White voters rejected the politics of exclusion

By Eric K. Ward, November 15, 2012

This election proves that many white voters are signaling their willingness to trade in old-fashioned white supremacy for an inclusive American identity.

While many TV pundits were quick to point out that the president did not win the majority of the white vote, they failed to point out that no Democratic candidate for the White House has won a majority of the white vote since the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

What’s more, there is no such thing as “the white vote.”

Yes, Romney won the majority of the white vote but in the midst of a racially charged campaign run by Republicans in hopes of derailing the first African-American president, 40 percent of white voters unequivocally chose to cast their ballots for Barack Obama. In a country with a long history of racial discrimination and discord, that vote says something.

In fact, Romney gained only 3 percent more white votes than Republican John McCain won in 2008. Republicans attempted to organize white voters into a virtually all-white political party, but they failed.

Obama actually did better among white voters than what John Kerry or Al Gore were able to achieve in their respective campaigns.

White male union members carried Obama in the state of Ohio. According to the AFL-CIO, Ohio union members increased their support by 5 percent over 2008. And 83 percent of union members in Ohio are white.

And look at Iowa: It’s 93 percent white, and Obama still managed to carry that state.

Luckily for America, neither the pundits nor the Republican Party have been able to stall this growing momentum towards a society where each person has access and opportunity.

Instead a new inclusive American identity is taking shape, and fortunately, a large portion of whites is just as committed to that identity as everyone else.

Eric K. Ward, a veteran civil rights advocate, is a founder of the Black Immigration Network. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.