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November 8, 2012

After the Election – A Poll Worker’s View

Patricia A. Kelly

The election is over, $2 billion have been spent, and we have ended with essentially the same government we already had. Although the Electoral College voted heavily in favor of the president, the popular vote was very close. About 50 percent voted for Barack Obama and 48 percent for Mitt Romney.


There were slight losses for Republicans in both the House and Senate, but the majorities remain the same. The House majority is Republican, the Senate is Democrat. Gridlock again.


More than 93 percent of black Americans and 79 percent of Latinos voted for President Obama. A minority of Caucasians, only 39 percent, voted for the president.


What does all this mean? No matter what anyone spins, there is neither a big win anywhere, nor a mandate. Certainly the racial divide is troubling; and, in spite of what some have said, if there is any racial prejudice showing, it is on the side of blacks and Latinos, not Caucasians.


In very rough financial and economic times for our country and the world, our electorate was conflicted, even paralyzed, unable to do much but default to their personal comfort zones. The clearest choice obvious was that they don’t want Akins or Mourdochs, who said such egregious things about rape and abortion.


Election Day at a working class polling place proved interesting. Mixed race couples, people of every color, primarily African American and Caucasian American, but many others, too. Since I was holding a Romney banner, comments often related to that, ranging from thumbs up or down, to chanting, but only one screaming vulgar epithet. There were a number of glares, primarily from African Americans, and a number of thumbs up, primarily from Caucasians.


One African American man told me he voted for President Obama last time because he was black, and “We didn‘t think one of us could be elected President“. He said that he doesn’t think the president has done a very good job, but voted for him because he thinks he is trying, and making some progress. Imagine his surprise when he heard how excited I was in 2008 to see that the U. S. had elected a person of color.


People said that President George W. Bush was the cause of the current economic mess, and that President Obama couldn’t turn it around in only four years. One said she thought that Governor Romney is a crook beneath it all. She said her primary reason for voting for President Obama was the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and that she also thinks he understands and cares about her. One tiny Burmese American woman admitted to voting for Mitt Romney, whispering, “He’s a good man” before regaling me with stories about her efforts to learn perfect English.


At my polling place, among the steady stream of voters throughout the day, few appeared affluent or drove really nice cars. There were mixed couples, people of color, a large number of obese people, and a handicapped young couple who drove up on their scooters. Cars ranged from a rare BMW to old, unwashed, inexpensive models with rusted roofs, and bungee cords holding the trunks closed. Lots of little ones showed up with their parents.


Observing this group, I came to the conclusion that the American demographic has changed. Mitt Romney was unable to win the trust of this new American society, no matter what their disappointment in the current president, or with the way things are going for them.


Our president, we all agree, is a great speaker, and a great campaigner. It’s a shame that these qualities are his best qualifications for the office of president.


It’s a good time for Republicans to take stock and even recreate themselves.


We have a new society, people.


Our society is not into Caucasian, socially conservative, fundamentalist Christian values. They don’t have to be, as we are a secular country. From our beginnings, although most of our early citizens practiced some form of Christianity, the commitment of our society has been to religious and personal freedom.


Many of the most visible conservatives are looking to make this a Christian country, and to project their personal moral values onto a society that does not share them. If they want the freedom to live according to their own values, they better get over this soon.


Even those in our society, who share these values, do not trust that conservatives will allow them freedom and prosperity. From the history of the Republican Party, they have reason for this.


The Republican Party needs to reinvent itself, both in reality and in the public mind, reaching across society to welcome and respect diversity. Conservative government has much of real value to offer to all in our society.


It’s very significant that the people barely elected a guy that they personally like so much.


How unfortunate that these, mostly personal and cultural issues, cost us the opportunity to be led out of our current morass by someone as accomplished and capable as Mitt Romney


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