(The Root) — In Republicans' burning zeal to deny America's first black president a second term, the GOP's tactics and their unintended consequences ensured that Barack Obama would have four more years.
GOP legislators and politicians offended African Americans. Offended women. Offended Hispanics. Offended gays. Apparently only straight, white Christian men were off-limits.
Their never-ending, flagrant disrespect of Obama, their racist dog whistling about the food stamp president and their systematic attempt to suppress the vote awoke the sleeping black giant. There was a serious threat that a mild case of black indifference was setting in, until the Republican schemes to discourage and dampen certain voter participation became evident, morphing the presidential election into a 2012 civil rights movement.
There was also Mitt Romney's post-NAACP speech to an all-white audience. After his appearance earlier in the day at the historic civil rights group's national convention, where he had been booed for promising to end Obamacare, the quarter-billionaire responded later to a group of donors in Hamilton, Mont.: "If you're looking for free stuff you don't have to pay for? Vote for the other guy; that's what he's all about, OK? That's not, that's not what I'm about."
More than half the electorate voted for the other guy. In some instances, in record numbers.
In bellwether state Ohio, for example, blacks, who make up 12 percent of the state's population, cast 15 percent of the votes Tuesday night.
Extreme right-wing Republicans launched a battery of attacks around women's issues, from anti-contraception to the redefinition of rape, enticing America's largest voting bloc — 53 percent — to favor President Obama. Women voted in record numbers, giving the president 55 percent of their vote, according to exit polls, while Romney got only 44 percent. Among single women, Obama beat out his Republican challenger by an amazing 38 percentage points.
The GOP's anti-Hispanic tone and legislation worked against them as well. Right-wing immigration policies, Arizona's profiling law and Romney's recommendation that undocumented Latinos "self-deport" have made the GOP one party that Hispanics prefer to skip. Now 10 percent of the electorate, 71 percent of Hispanics voted for Obama, whose street cred with them is about as good as the Republicans' is bad.
Since becoming president, Obama has appointed Sonia Sotomayor as the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice, supported comprehensive immigration reform and signed an executive order initiating the policies of the DREAM Act, thus stopping the deportation of hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants.
Republicans have also alienated gay Americans by relaunching their culture wars, targeting same-sex marriage and attacking Obama's repeal of the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. According to an exit poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 77 percent of the gay vote went to the president, with the Republican challenger only getting 23 percent. The poll also reported that 5 percent of the electorate self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Romney won, as Comedy Central's Jon Stewart pointed out, "most of the Confederacy."
Obama won 25 states and the District of Columbia for a total of 303 Electoral College votes, 33 more than the 270 necessary. Romney won 24 states, 206 electoral votes. Florida's 29 electoral votes (which Romney has conceded) are not in the totals because Tuesday's election votes in the Sunshine State are still being counted.
Just weeks earlier, Republicans were still dreaming of regaining control of the Senate while keeping control of the House. Tuesday's election saw them losing seats in both, although they continue to control the lower chamber.
The Election Day thrashing caught most Republicans off guard. Since most conservatives find their comfort level in the right-wing echo chamber where the Fox News Channel, Newsmax and Rush Limbaugh spoon-feed narrow points of view, few understood that there was another America out there and that it was bigger and better than the one they thought they were taking back.
Even Romney was in the bubble. The candidate was so cocksure of winning that he hadn't written a concession speech, only one for his acceptance.
And there is many a one-percenter much the poorer for pursuing the fool's goal of sending the president packing back to Chicago. Instead, the president doubled back to 2004 when, as a senator, he came to national prominence while addressing the Democratic National Convention with his "blue state, red state" speech.
This week, the president's acceptance speech was purple.
"The speeches had remarkably similar refrains," reported the Washington Post. "Both mentioned red states and blue states. Both included references to this country's opportunities, no matter whether 'you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight.' "
Even as the president was winding up his victory speech, his next major crisis was looming on the political horizon: the fiscal cliff.
Unless the president and Congress can come to an agreement, in what amounts to a one-two punch, at year's end the federal budget as we know it could fall off a cliff. The Bush-era tax cuts will end. Across-the-board spending cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs that could total $800 billion next year will kick in. Also looming are reimbursement cuts to Medicare doctors and the end of a payroll-tax holiday and extended unemployment benefits.
An ugly fight is just waiting to begin.
It still remains to be seen if the Republicans will continue to be obstructionists or whether Tuesday's election losses taught them to behave as if they care more about country than party.
After all, the next congressional election is just two years away.
Cybercolumnist Monroe Anderson is a veteran Chicago journalist who has written signed op-ed-page columns for both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. and executive-produced and hosted his own local CBS TV show. He was also the editor of Savoy Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.
Cybercolumnist Monroe Anderson is a veteran Chicago journalist who has written signed op-ed-page columns for both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times and executive-produced and hosted his own local CBS TV show. He was also the editor of Savoy Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.