The Big Picture for President Obama is this. After a year in office, he's passed an historic, if imperfect, health care law -- don't call it a "bill" anymore; it's the law of the land now. The devastating job losses that marked the final year of Bush/Cheney have begun to turn into job gains. A Puerto Rican woman now sits on the Supreme Court. And the war in Iraq has faded from the news, as Americans no longer die in battle there. Look again -- that's health care, the economy, the Court and the war -- the full spectrum of Presidential responsibility -- all successes for the new President.
Republicans see it differently and their TV talking-bubbleheads persistently press the point. Obama is out of touch with the great American majority. They especially like to use the term "middle class working people" and claim that Obama has virtually no support there whatsoever. They won't say it, not out loud anyway, but what they really mean by "middle class working people" is -- white folks. Most mysterious of all is their reasoning that Obama never had any support from "middle class working people" -- white folks. They're not saying he's lost favor among them. They are saying that "middle class working people" have never supported this President. That is the lynchpin of the right's prattling cry of this President's illegitimacy.
The Big Picture the Republicans see is a scenario where Barack Obama and "The American People" - white people - are separated by a wide divide, a chasm certain to result in his being a one term Chief Executive. Do they really believe this or are they simply ignorant? I don't know. You decide. Here are some pertinent facts that may be helpful.
Barack Obama received more votes than any person who has ever run for President of the United States. Okay, already I hear the statistic-geeks hollering that the increase in the US population and the constantly expanding number of voters means that this happens in every new Presidential election. That's not true.
It's been a half-century since JFK ran for President. In the romance surrounding the Kennedy's we have forgotten that John Kennedy got fewer votes than Eisenhower did in his second election. In 1968, Richard Nixon failed to equal the vote total achieved by LBJ four years earlier. Nixon did better in his 1972 reelection, but both Presidents Carter and, contrary to what many are sure happened, Ronald Reagan too couldn't equal or surpass the disgraced Nixon's second term vote total. Reagan did go on to set a modern vote record in 1984. But, then it took 24 years for another candidate to pass that mark. Bush 41, Bill Clinton twice, and Al Gore in 2000 all failed. Yes, Gore in 2000, because remember, he got more votes in that election than the "winner" did. Go figure.
Bush The Younger did set a new record for total votes in 2004, with John Kerry also breaking the old number in defeat. But in 2008, John McCain couldn't equal the votes received by either Bush 43 or Kerry, and Barack Obama's 69,456,897 votes smashed all previous counts. Who were these nearly 70 million Americans?
Today, right-wing pundits and along with them, Republican "leaders," would have you believe that Barack Obama was elected President without the support of the American people, and certainly without any help from "middle class working people." These are, don't forget, the same pundits who said McCain would carry Pennsylvania for the same reasons, because Obama couldn't rally any support from all those white folks in western Pennsylvania, especially the ones who voted for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary. And then, Obama won Pennsylvania in a rout, by 11 points. You could look it up. The implication being pushed these days by Republicans, with a heavy hand on the scale, is that Obama was elected by some bunch of left wing radicals and a massive turnout by people of color. Nobody else. Nobody from among the great majority of Americans where "middle class working people" live. Nobody, they mean, who was white.
Here's what really happened in the 2008 election - 74% of all votes were cast by white people; 13% by blacks; 9% by Latinos; 2% by Asians; and 3% by "others." Barack Obama received 95% of the black vote, 67% of the Latino vote, 62% of the Asian vote and 66% of the "other" vote. Is this why he's President? Maybe the right wing is right. No. The combined vote total for those ethnic groups was 34.935 million. Even had he received all those votes - which he didn't - that many votes wouldn't have gotten Obama elected 50 years ago. How could it be then that Barack Obama got to be President of the United States of America?
Here's how. More than 41 million white people cast their ballot for him. Yes, 41 million white folk voted for Barack Obama to be President. The youngest of them, those white voters ages 18-29, voted for Obama by a wide margin over the Republican Party ticket. In all the other older groups of white voters Obama received between 40% and 42% of their votes. Not a majority, but that's a higher total than Bill Clinton got and he was elected President twice. Keep in mind that Obama's 2008 18-29 year old white voters will join those older demographic groups for his reelection campaign in 2012. Those 40-42% numbers are likely to rise accordingly.
The right-wing's Media Mouth Machine would have you believe that practically nobody worth anything (i.e. middle class working people) voted for Obama in 2008. They want you to write-off 35 million Persons of Color and Other voters as if none of them were "middle class working people." And, I suppose, they expect you to deny altogether the 41 million white votes, or dismiss them all as far-left radicals. Now there's a Big Picture to scare the pants off Republicans. Imagine what this country would look like if there really were 41 million far-left, radical, white voters.
Americans who are "middle class working people" are not all white folks. They come in all colors, ages, religions, from all national origins and with all shades of political ideology. No party can truthfully claim they are the standard bearers for "middle class working people." If Republicans go into the 2012 campaign thinking that they already have the "white vote" in their pocket because they cannot or will not distinguish between white people and "middle class working people," they are in for quite a shock when the votes are counted.