The Election—III

Mother Jones
A still from a video of Mitt Romney talking to wealthy donors at a fund-raiser in Boca Raton, Florida, May 17, 2012

Darryl Pinckney

Mitt Romney admitted to the new social truth in America when he remarked that had his parents been Mexican he’d have a better shot at the presidency. That the United States is a changed country, demographically, from the one that white men of Romney’s generation grew up in became manifest in the last presidential election and will do so again.

Republicans who argue that the Hispanic vote is less than 4 percent of the electorate in eight swing states must not be counting Florida. Romney’s select audience at a secretly filmed, private event in May in Boca Raton applauded a story from a fellow diner about Senator Marco Rubio’s parents telling him that if he went to school and worked hard then one day he, too, would be successful. They followed the political script that promised the Republicans would be supported by good immigrants who believe in the American way—i.e., success as exemption. But maybe not enough Hispanic voters will forget the Republican Party’s anti-immigration rhetoric and its angry opposition to Obama’s support for the Dream Act, by which undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as minors would be given a way to qualify for permanent residency.

Yet the Republican Party seems unable to concede that its ticket hasn’t much chance of winning the Latino vote. “If the Hispanic voting bloc becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African-American bloc has in the past,” Romney said at Boca Raton, “why we’re in trouble as a party and, I think, as a nation.” However, his appeal to his base that evening comes across in the Mother Jones video as an injured sense of personal whiteness, confusion that his being the candidate of rich and right-wing and male whites hasn’t made him more respectable and convincing to the nation as a whole.

Romney derided Obama’s charm as his only foreign policy, asserted that the Republican ticket could capture women, and added that college kids feel let down by Obama, too. He predicted that Obama’s campaign would be an “attack of one American against another American.” The president will attempt to divide the country “by going after those who have been successful.” He was calling in the tribe, shrugging off the likelihood that he won’t be able to reach that 47 percent of the American electorate that is going to vote for the president “no matter what.” He put his own faithful at around 45 percent of the electorate.

This descendant of white men who went into exile in Mexico in order to practice polygamy will always be remembered for his claim that 47 percent of Americans have been corrupted by their dependence on government. They are “victims, who believe…

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