Romney’s new ‘free stuff’ meme: Obama won because of the ‘gifts’ he gave blacks, Hispanics, young voters

Opinion

As Henry Decker explains in The National Memo:

Obama’s overwhelming support among the black community is not hard to figure out. While African-Americans are historically the Democratic party’s most reliable constituency — and many in the community feel a special connection to the bi-racial Obama — the Republican party surely drove any undecideds into the Democratic camp by actively antagonizing the black community throughout the campaign.

From Mitt Romney’s widely derided, antagonistic speech to the NAACP, to his reliance on bigoted surrogates like John Sununu and Donald Trump, to his flagrantly false ad campaign invoking well-known dog whistles about welfare reform, to the Republican party’s transparent attempts to discourage minorities from voting through “voter ID” laws, the GOP was disturbingly comfortable with using racial politics to build an elderly, white coalition in 2012.

The voter suppression laws were especially egregious. The laws were clearly targeted at minority voters, a fact that some Republicans didn’t even try to hide. Former Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer, for example,admitted under oath that “political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting,” and added that party officials discussed how “minority outreach programs were not fit for the Republican Party.”

Ironically, scare tactics such as the menacing billboards that went up in black neighborhoods in Cleveland ultimately backfired, increasing black voters’ motivation to get to the polls. As Latino Decisions co-founder Matt Barreto told The Nation‘s Ari Berman, “There were huge organizing efforts in the black, Hispanic and Asian community, more than there would’ve been, as a direct result of the voter suppression efforts.”

It’s not just black voters who turned their backs on Romney and his campaign.

He, after all, was the author of a 2009 op-ed saying the federal government should “let Detroit go bankrupt”; produced false ads claiming Chrysler was going to outsource Jeep jobs to China, only to be slapped down by both General Motors’ and Chryslers’ CEOs; named as his running-mate Paul Ryan, the author of a House of Representatives plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program; and made serial mistakes during the campaign — including the infamous “47 percent” remarks — that alienated white working class voters, who were crucial to Romney’s defeat in his home state of Michigan, Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin, and of course, in Ohio.

It’s also not exactly rocket science that Latino voters preferred the president who issued an executive order protecting young DREAMers from forced separation from their families, to the guy who advises immigrants to self-deport while referring to human beings as “illegals.”

Is Romney really so shocked… shocked!… to discover that young people preferred the guy who cut banks out as student loan middlemen and expanded Pell Grants, over the team that wanted to eliminate federal education funding and slash the Department of Education down to the size where you can drown it in a bathtub?

And it’s not exactly surprising that women who were appalled by the number of Republicans who made contraception, abortion and even rape into campaign issues decided to pass over the ticket that included Congressman Ryan, who has described rape as just another “method of conception,” and go with the guy who signed the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act.

That’s not transactional — it’s rational. Even Ayn Rand would say so.

And while I’m not a businessperson like Mr. Romney, I’d guess that the best way to attract black, Hispanic and young voters — let’s call them customers — back to the Republican Party is probably not to continually insult them as only voting for whoever hands them “gifts.”

Romney has decided to double down on his “makers vs. takers” argument that Americans who vote for Obama only do so because they want “free stuff.”  (Ryan, meanwhile, in his own post-mortem of the campaign, claimed that the reason he and Romney lost was because of all those “urban” folk…) But the truth of the matter, and of the campaign, is that to paraphrase the Republican Party’s favorite slogan during the 2012 campaign: if you’re Mitt Romney or a member of his party and you lost in the recent election — you built that.

Follow Joy Reid on Twitter at @thereidreport.