As the holder of an Irish passport (as well as my American passport), I think I can safely ask just exactly what Bill O’Reilly is trying to say.
O’Reilly tried to wax profound last week after President Obama was re-elected with help from African-American and Hispanic votes. (One perky guest on MSNBC suggested a new motto for the Republican party: “Hello, Brown People.”)
On Election night, O’Reilly said: “It’s a changing country, the demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore, and there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama.”
O’Reilly added, “The white establishment is now the minority.”
In noting the shift in America, O’Reilly seemed to be harking back to some golden era in America when the Cabots and the Lodges sat around the Boston Common and sang Kumbaya with the Flynns and, dare I say it, the O’Reillys.
Was there ever a time in America when we were all just one happy family? After the settlers took the country away from the native Americans, that is. There were always newcomers to the land and the voting booths. They were noticeable by their clothes and their accents, if not their color.
It isn’t quite clear to me whether some of my Irish ancestors (on my maternal grandmother’s side) ever ran into help-wanted signs that said NINA – No Irish Need Apply. Did those signs actually exist in large numbers in the 19th Century, as some people claim? In a way, it doesn’t matter. There are always newcomers, always outsiders. And it’s funny how new people want things, like work and housing and education and a chance to vote, without public officials in Ohio and Florida making it tough for them.
O’Reilly seemed downright lachrymose when confronting the new reality – that voters of color now tilt the majority and helped re-elect a candidate who, despite being Kenyan and Muslim and, worst of all, an introvert, just might be the smartest person in the political room. The country keeps changing. Always did.
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