Republicans Want 'Stuff' Too

Mitt Romney variates on a theme:
A week after losing the election to President Obama, Mitt Romney blamed his overwhelming electoral loss on what he said were big "gifts" that the president had bestowed on loyal Democratic constituencies, including young voters, African-Americans and Hispanics. 

In a conference call on Wednesday afternoon with his national finance committee, Mr. Romney said that the president had followed the "old playbook" of wooing specific interest groups -- "especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people," Mr. Romney explained -- with targeted gifts and initiatives...

"With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift," he said. "Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents' plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008." 

The president's health care plan, he added, was also a useful tool in mobilizing African-American and Hispanic voters.
There was a great deal of talk after the election of the "fever" breaking around the GOP, and the party coming to their senses. Perhaps Bobby Jindal's aggressive rebuttal evidences some of this. 

At any rate, I think it's worth noting that all political parties organize around their interests, around pay-outs, as Romney calls them. Mitt Romney, for instance, represented a coalition whose stated interests lay in expanding the policies of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, outlawing national protection for abortion, doing nothing about climate change, and decreasing the tax burden on the "makers."

This is interest-group politics. It is not a nefarious evil. It is the practice of American democracy. At least that's what it is when taken up by interest groups who are predominantly white, predominantly male, and rooted, electorally, in the old Confederacy. When the practice is taken up by a coalition of women, gays, the young and people of color, many of them tax-payers, it is suddenly deemed a "pay-out" or "stuff," as it was so recently put. 

But they too want "stuff." They want the right to discriminate against gay families. They want the right to enact poll-taxing. They want the law to force all pregnant women into labor. That many Americans disagree can only be the result of Chicago-style bribery. I win or you cheated.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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