I spent Tuesday making GOTV calls from the Imperial ballroom at the Fairmont Hotel. I was an honored guest at the Obama reelection celebration Tuesday night. It turns out that honored guest was way better than special guest. We had a dedicated shuttle, separate access through the metal detectors. I stood 30-40 feet from the presidential seal and podium. Unfortunately McCormick was a gigantic Faraday cage. So I was unexpectedly cut off from Internet and twitter. I couldn’t brag about a setup that seemed like a Visa elite triple platinum points reward commercial backstage with Alicia Keys.
Fractal inequality is never absent from events like that. Waiting around for the event to begin, I spot a line of other honored guests near some opening in the curtain. A polite staff member asks me: “Do you have a wrist band?” “A wrist band? Wha—?” No I do not have a wrist band. There were apparently categories of even-more-honored guests above me. It’s not fair that some people get all the breaks…
I kindof expected to be surrounded by middle-aged affluent folk. But maybe because the real high-rollers were elsewhere, my section included people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. At some point during the night, the place erupted when Maryland’s same-sex marriage results were posted. Two minutes later, an even bigger whoop went up maybe 10 people to my right. A young woman had proposed to her partner the moment the initiative was approved. The night was special like that.
For decades, Republicans have portrayed Democrats as the “other,” as less authentic or worthy Americans than the white Christian, heterosexual supposed mainstream. This effort–which reflects the genuine sentiment of many within the Republican base—reached its apotheosis in birtherism and Donald Trump’s self-parodying video calling for Obama’s college transcripts. Yet the charge was always broader than that.
Looking up at the big screen TV, I watched Romney’s counterpart audience to ours. The screen was almost entirely filled by upscale middle-aged white folk, You can’t win the presidency in 2012 when you concede 90% of the African-American vote, 77% of the LGBT vote, 70% of the Latino and Jewish votes, the large majority of women who care about the right to choose. And you don’t deserve to win, either. Republicans talk about those of us in these various categories as if we were somewhat unwanted guests in their country. That exclusionary sales pitch worked pretty well for a long time. It doesn’t work anymore.
Governor Romney made tactical mistakes. He got some unlucky breaks, including the failure of his Orca computer system and the arrival of hurricane Sandy. He didn’t lose because he was unlucky, though. Indeed Romney got one huge lucky break when President Obama unaccountably blew the first debate. In reality, Romney blew his own electoral chances when he made the conscious decision during the Republican primaries to run right on immigration, and when he kibitzed with cossetted rich donors about the supposed laziness of 47% of his less-fortunate fellow citizens.
Romney was vague about critical aspects of his domestic policy plans. But the broad outline was clear enough. It turns out that most Americans don’t like the idea of cutting social insurance programs and snatching health coverage from 30 million people while financing another round of regressive tax cuts.
In hard economic times, the popular vote was too close for comfort. As the economy recovers and the nation absorbs the election results, I predict President Obama will be markedly more popular. He’s human. He needed the help of a huge coalition to get over the top. Most Americans like and respect him, want him to succeed. I certainly do.
On election day, the Obama campaign had one million volunteers. I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors, made many more phone calls. Many others, including my wife Veronica, did more. I did enough to feel that special mix of joy and exhaustion watching that electoral count pass 270 late in the night. My personal superpac spent $1000 making two commercials to support one candidate. He won. Sheldon Adelson spent $53 million to support two candidates. They lost. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.