From afar, it was never going to go differently. Mitt Romney was never a number one choice of a candidate for the Republican Party. A Mormon and a moderate, he was simply unable to speak to the base of the party, many of whom you heard during the election, arguing legitimate rape, anti-abortion stances after wanting to kill health care. The choice of Paul Ryan, an untried and radical part of that base, was a gesture to that conservative element, but it also meant that Romney was even more isolated in his campaign: Ryan had to be careful monitored, his mouth taped shut, a constant, silent reminder to women around the country that their uterus was not their own. Add to that that Romney himself could never shake the image of being a billionaire who made money closing down companies, that he never could offer people a record of a companies built from the ground, and that he was, as Julia Baird said, "The kind of man who walked into a company and sacked your Dad," then there was no reason to vote for him, unless you simply hated the current American Government.
And that, lets be honest, there was that.
Inheriting debt in the middle of a global financial crisis, Obama and the Democrats went into the election with high unemployment, uninspiring economic growth, and a certain malaise in relation to Obama himself, who never lived up to the promises of his 2008 campaign of hope and change (something he was never going to do). If the Republican Party had managed to put up a moderate candidate who ran on self made business, the narrative that Romney himself tried to create, then it would have been the close race that a number of people thought that it was going to be. The election was there to be lost for Obama, which is perhaps the thing that it going to stick in the Republican mouth for some time, but they buried themselves so easily and throughly that it was always a question of not if Obama won, but by how much.
What I did find interesting, throughout the whole of yesterday, was how many people said that only white men, and angry white men, vote for the Republican Party. It was part of a larger racial comment in the election in general, where people felt comfortable saying that only Black men and women, and only Hispanic men and women would vote for Obama. Also, women would vote for him, because he was for womans issues (and the economy, dontcha know, isn't a womens issue). I don't know who Asians were voting for, because no one ever considered them. But having heard it said so often and so repeatedly, even I--a white Australian on the other side of the world--started to feel insulted by the claims made either way. Racial motivation is an easy and simple minded thing to do, and while base voting blocks do have a racial element, there's also a strong socio-economic and cultural play into it as well. But also, mostly, it's lazy--it's lazy to say only one kind of person will vote for this person based on their skin colour. And given that over a hundred million people voted, it's lazy and disingenuous to say it.
It also has the additional negative impact of giving a sense of validation to the claims of various right wing nuts who say that the white man's time is over. We can only hope that it is, but not for any of the fear mongering that they are pushing. We hope it is because the dominance of any race or gender by one other is an untenable thing and flies in the face of equality, a goal that we all ought to strive for. Terrible things are done when all people are not treated with the respect and dignity that people everywhere deserve. Terrible things are being done because of this right now. So there should not be any attempt to give the radical voices that loom close to KKK territory any validity, and the lazy division of such a large amount of voters into simplistic racial blocks that ignores all individuality does this. Rather, what should be celebrated is the diversity, the range of people, who vote to support either candidate.
After all, African Americans do vote Republican. So do Hispanics. And so do women. And white men--white angry men, even--do vote Democrat.
Except for, perhaps, white men who live in Australia with their American girlfriend. They don't vote Republican or Democrat. In fact, they don't vote at all. Something to do with them not being American citizens, and all.