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2013-01-21

Civil Rights Leader Julian Bond: Obama Won with a New Electorate: "The Coalition of the Concerned"

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Julian Bond, the leading civil rights activist and former chair of the board of the NAACP.

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Julian Bond, the leading civil rights activist and former chair of the board of the NAACP, speaks to the Peace Ball about how changing demographics in the United States helped propel President Obama to re-election. Bond helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. "The depth of Republican dependence on white voters explains a lot about recent election — not least about its outcome," Bond says. "Republican efforts to suppress minority voters backfired, big time." [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: As we turn back to historical voices, another of the speakers at last night’s Peace Ball was Julian Bond. The leading civil rights activist, former chair of the board of NAACP, he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, was a state legislator in Georgia for over two decades. He spoke about the effects of Obama’s election victory.

JULIAN BOND: Now, we are gathered here to celebrate the re-election of President Obama, an accomplishment arguably as astounding, if not more so, than the first. And we are here celebrating the best news: The president is acting as if he won.

And win he did. In every state that was part of the Confederacy, John McCain won a larger share of the white vote four years ago than he did nationwide, including almost 90 percent in both Alabama and Mississippi. Similarly, in this cycle, Romney won the presidency of the Confederate States of America, carrying nine of the 11 rebel states. He achieved his highest share of the white vote in the state with the largest percentage of black voters, Mississippi. Indeed, Romney’s strong national showing among white voters was almost exclusively driven by historic support from Southern and Appalachian white voters. George W. Bush got 62 million votes in the 2004 election, and conservatives said he had a mandate. Barack Obama got 62 million votes in the 2012 election, and conservatives started a secessionist movement. But the Obama campaign took it to them and made a difference in the end. They helped create a new electorate, a coalition of the concerned, and they turned it out on Election Day.

Our two political parties are separate and not equal. The percentage of Republicans who are white has remained fairly steady since 2000 at about 87 percent. The percentage of Democrats who are white, in contrast, has dropped from 64 percent in 2000 to 55 percent now. Independents have gone from 79 to 67 percent white since 2000. The depth of Republican dependence on white voters explains a lot about the recent election—not least about its outcome. Republican efforts to suppress minority voters backfired, big time. In Florida alone, 266,000 more Hispanics voted than in 2008. Similarly, in Ohio, 209,000 more blacks voted than in 2008. Overall, while Romney received 59 percent of the white vote, Omaha—Obama—Omaha? Obama got 93 percent of the black vote and 71 and 73 percent of Hispanic and Asian votes, respectively, meaning that almost 90 percent of Romney’s voters were white. Obama carried 55 percent of women’s votes.

AMY GOODMAN: Julian Bond, civil rights leader.

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