ON ELECTION NIGHT, a couple of hours before President Obama was declared the victor, Bill O’Reilly offered his explanation for why Mitt Romney was about to lose.
“Because it’s a changing country, the demographics are changing,” Mr. O’Reilly said. “It’s not a traditional America anymore.”
In case anyone might be confused about the meaning of “traditional,” he elaborated: “The white establishment is now the minority.”
In other words, the problem was too many voters of color. And Mr. O’Reilly explained why that is a problem.
“There are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things, and who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it, and he ran on it. . . . You’re going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming for President Obama, and women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things, and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?”
In a phone call with supporters Wednesday, Mr. Romney echoed some of the O’Reilly analysis. He attributed his defeat to the incumbent’s “gifts” to some of the same demographic groups whose rise troubles Mr. O’Reilly.
“The Obama campaign was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped they could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls, specifically the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people,” Mr. Romney said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
So, you may ask, what’s incorrect in that analysis? Mr. Obama “evolved” on gay marriage just in time to solidify the gay vote. It wasn’t until his fourth year in office, with Hispanic voters in play, that he decreed a path to legality for some young undocumented immigrants. Coincidence? Don’t be naive, Mr. Romney is telling us.
Our guess is that Mr. Obama thought that both policies would be good for the country — at worst, a confluence of good politics and common sense — just as Mr. Romney saw promises of lower taxes and expanded drilling as in the national interest, not “gifts” to small businesses and oil companies. Yet he seems to view extending health-care insurance to the uninsured as a political payoff to minorities.
“With regards to African American voters, Obamacare was a huge plus,” Mr. Romney said. “You can imagine for somebody making $25- or $30- or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care — particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 a family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge. Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus.”
Yes — and shouldn’t it be? Would Mr. Romney prefer that people making $25,000 a year remain uninsured? Does the man who expressed pride in extending insurance to everyone in Massachusetts really see the Affordable Care Act as nothing but a play for votes?
We think voters generally make decisions based on a complex assessment of their own interests and what they think is good for the country. Mr. Romney apparently views the people as a series of segmentable, selfish market shares. That is “absolutely wrong,” said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). “We have got to stop dividing American voters.”
It’s encouraging that many Republicans are repudiating the contemptuous, and contemptible, O’Reilly-Romney worldview.