In a campaign that was brilliant and nearly flawless, Barack Obama succeeded against daunting odds to win more than 300 electoral votes, way past the necessary 270 mark, to be the first African American in history to win two terms as president of the United States.
Whenever anyone asked me if I thought Obama would win, I always said yes. But to see it really happen was breathtaking. It was a very close popular vote but the Obama ground machine was focused on what it needed to do to reach the goal of 270 electoral votes. Congressman John Lewis said it best: “My congratulations to President Barack Obama and his campaign,” he said. “Their skill and expertise have led them to make history once again.”
The laser focus of the Obama campaign apparatus was augmented by the excessive overreaches of his opponent, Mitt Romney, and Republican Party operatives and supporters.
Efforts by more than 30 Republican-controlled states to implement stringent voter ID laws to suppress voter turnout among likely Democratic voters backfired. And further efforts to suppress the vote with shorter early voting periods also backfired. This GOP alienation of African-American and Hispanic voters cost them a victory in a nation that is becoming “browner” with every election cycle.
Romney’s ridiculous “self –deportation” suggestion for the estimated 10 million undocumented workers was countered by Obama’s brilliant and compassionate executive order to allow children of undocumented workers an opportunity to come out of the shadows.
In addition to the voter suppression efforts, more than 20 GOP-controlled states, including Georgia, continued the assault on women’s reproductive rights. These attacks on birth control and limiting parameters for abortions also backfired. Women, especially younger, single women, overwhelmingly voted for Obama in response.
The GOP ran what felt many times like a campaign for rich white men only. That will not and did not carry the day in 2012. America is well on the road to being a nation that is majority people of color. And the impact of money and power to advantage the special interests of a few will no longer automatically rule.
Again, Rep. Lewis said it best. “By re-electing President Barack Obama, the American people made a major down payment toward the building of a truly diverse, multi-racial democracy.”
And while most of Romney’s support came from mostly white, older voters, it was also heartening to see that Obama still retained 40 percent of the white vote, down only slightly from the 43 percent he received in 2008.
Yes, it was clear from this historic election, or re-election, that race, gender, age, class and region are still fault lines that our nation must continue to address. But his re-election is not a dream. Barack Obama is still president of the United States of America, and I and my mother lived to see it. Hallelujah!
M. Alexis Scott is publisher of the Atlanta Daily World.