Streams

Opinion: Obama's Winning Coalition Looks a Lot Like America's Future

Wednesday, November 07, 2012 - 09:16 AM

The victory of Barack Obama four years ago signaled to many the rise of a new America, symbolized by the election of our first black president. The president's reelection last night confirmed that a new, diverse American populace has found its footing and is finding its voice.

Winning all across the country, President Obama should be buoyed by the broad mandate for him to move the nation, in the single-word slogan of his campaign, "forward." That he won is only part of last night's story; how he won is just as critical. Given a second term by an incredibly diverse array of voters, that multi-ethnic, multi-racial America of all hues and backgrounds and creeds reflects the president's frequently reiterated metaphor that we are not simply a blue America and a red America. That diverse new America was a victor last night -- an economic, cultural and political force that all parties and politicians need to understand, embrace and engage.

The president hit upon this theme in one of the most compelling passages in last night's address. "This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth."

From diversity comes strength, the president argued. From many, one.

Obama wove the theme of diversity into his points about our liberty, our shared values, our common dreams. But diversity was more than a rhetorical point. It was it the composition of he loud, passionate crowd that joined him, and in whose faces we saw the catharsis of hopeful celebration. And that assembly in turn reflected the truth of Obama's electoral victory: that more minorities, young Americans, new voters and members of disenfranchised and marginalized communities are making up our new American majority.

Americans have elected our first openly gay Senator, and our first Buddhist Senator, who is also our first Asian-American female Senator. Americans elected a larger representation of women in the Senate than ever before. Americans affirmed their respect for their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in ballot initiatives across the country.

Last night marked the end of a campaign where a president's race and a challenger's Mormon faith never surfaced as issues in the last laps of the general election and seemed far from the minds of most voters. It also saw the first time that of the four Americans occupying the top-ticket spots of the two major parties, not one was a White Protestant.

This is a new America. President Obama's campaign saw and understood that. Along with an improving economy, a decade of war ending, and a meticulous field campaign, the strength of diversity helped secure a second term for Obama and Biden -- and has secured for them the opportunity to build bonds among all Americans over the next four years.

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Comments [2]

"Last night marked the end of a campaign where a president's race and a challenger's Mormon faith never surfaced as issues in the last laps of the general election and seemed far from the minds of most voters."

Say what??? The dog whistle of the other was used early and often by the GOP candidates, Mr. Romney included. The Democrats did manage to keep Mr. Romney's mormonism off the table but I have no doubt that the 9 point drop between Protestants and Catholics for Mr. Romney was largely about his LDS status.

Nov. 08 2012 03:29 PM
Richard Spiegel from Staten Island, NY

It bothers me that commentators are questioning whether President Obama can achieve unity. I don't think he emphasized "unity," rather "union." There's a big difference. There may very well be a "union" of diverse opinions as there is of different states. We can live in a union, but that's far different from a uniformed consensus which is the connotation of "unity".

Nov. 07 2012 11:33 AM

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