Romney Blames the Money and the Ethnic Vote

The 1995 referendum in Quebec came pretty close to tearing up Canada. The campaign in favour of separation gained just a smidge under 50% of the vote. A swing of less than 1% would have given separatists an unprecedented victory. But, alas, the Parti Quebecois and their leader, Jacques Parizeau, came up just a little bit short. The years of work they had dedicated to their vision of creating the nation of Quebec ended in defeat… and quite a bit of frustration.

Mr. Parizeau, his political career fading, decided to ditch the last of his dignity wtih an attack on Anglophones and minorities (emphasis mine):

“My friends

“It’s lost, but not by much. But it’s a success, it’s a success in a way. Please, let’s stop talking about the francophones of Quebec, would you? Let’s talk about us: at 60% we voted for (independence). We fought well, and we … we even showed clearly what we wanted. And we missed by a small margin, by a few tens of thousands of voices. Well, in a case like this, what do we do? We spit in our hands and start all over again.
“I really wanted this to go through. I wanted it so badly, like all of you, that it would get through. We were so close to a country. Well, it’s been delayed a little … not for long, not for long … we won’t wait 15 years this time … no, no …

“It’s true, it’s true that we have been defeated, but basically by what? By money and ethnic votes, essentially. So all it means is that, in the next round, instead of being 60 or 61 per cent to vote YES, we will be 63 or 64 per cent and it will suffice. That’s all. But now my friends, in the months that will come, we are going to… Listen: Some people got so afraid that the temptation to take revenge is going to be something! And never again will it be more important to have a Parti Québécois government to protect us until the next time!”

(Source, including the original French version.)

‘The money and ethnic votes’ became the vile epitaph for the Premier’s career. (It is understood that by “money”, he meant Quebec anglophones. The implication was that there were certain people who were ‘real’ Quebecois, or “pure laine“.) No doubt, he was not going to remain in his role with a referendum defeat anyway, so his racist outburst was little more than a tasteless parting shot to his supposed oppressors.

 It appears Mitt Romney has had his own ‘Money and ethnic votes’ moment, via the LA Times:

Obama, Romney argued, had been “very generous” to blacks, Hispanics and young voters. He cited as motivating factors to young voters the administration’s plan for partial forgiveness of college loan interest and the extension of health coverage for students on their parents’ insurance plans well into their 20s. Free contraception coverage under Obama’s healthcare plan, he added, gave an extra incentive to college-age women to back the president.

Romney argued that Obama’s healthcare plan’s promise of coverage “in perpetuity” was “highly motivational” to those voters making $25,000 to $35,000 who might not have been covered, as well as to African American and Hispanic voters. Pivoting to immigration, Romney said the Obama campaign’s efforts to paint him as “anti-immigrant” had been effective and that the administration’s promise to offer what he called “amnesty” to the children of illegal immigrants had helped turn out Hispanic voters in record numbers.

“The president’s campaign,” he said, “focused on giving targeted groups a big gift — so he made a big effort on small things. Those small things, by the way, add up to trillions of dollars.”

Clearly, Mr. Romney’s comments do not sink quite as far into the muck as Mr. Parizeau’s. Nonetheless, a touch of grace, rather than a focus on race, would serve him well.

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.


  1. Quebecois aren’t ethnic? Dude’s nuts. Everyone who’s not a WASP is ethnic.

  2. Its more than just a lack of grace. Romnoid doesn’t seem to think the things he was offering to his voters as actual things. Tax breaks, more money for medicaid, more defense spending, etc are tangible offerings to people. In fact all parties offer things that they will believe meet the interests of people. Romnoid doesn’t seem to think the things O offered are real or acceptable things, they are just baubles to mollify those darn moochers. His offerings are good and noble and right; they are a higher level of offering to the good kind of people.

    • No, it’s worse than that: If Obamacare is a gift to the moocher class, then it’s impossible to not characterize Romneycare as the same. Romney’s not being a clueless class warrior, he’s just pandering to his donor base. Even after he lost. Pathetic.

  3. Though I believe that Romney would have been a good president, this does touch on one of the major areas of discomfort I had with him. Back when he was governor of Massachusetts, he went out of his way to repeatedly denigrate my home city (“Colosse”). “We should do this for Boston because we can’t let Boston become like that hellhole Colosse!” (Okay, he didn’t use the word hellhole, but he might as well have.) He tends to ensconce himself into wherever he is at the moment and is quick to point out the outsiders, whether it’s a purple city in a red state in the south (while he’s the governor of a blue state) or… this. He even took swipes at Salt Lake City’s awesome city-street infrastructure for no other reason than to define himself against the other for fear of being associated.

    What Greg says is true, though I don’t consider that to be a Romney problem per se. In fact, I wish it were a Romney problem. It’s something that I believe the Republican Party itself is going to have to come to terms with for the reasons that Dennis explored in his post.

    If I write a post about the GOP and where I believe it should go from here, it’s going to be along the lines of the Douthat-Salam Sam’s Club Republicanism that it would have been great if it had carried Pawlenty to the nomination. It’s mocked by Corey Robin and the like, but I think it’s a pathway towards reconnecting to people they need to reconnect with and building bridges they’d been flicking lighters on as of late.

    • You are correct its not specifically a Romney problem. It’s a repub problem.

      Romney is very much a chameleon or Zelig. To many of the criticisms of his character really seem to ring true.

      • I’m starting to think that Romney’s gracious and sincere-sounding concession speech says nothing about the man except that he knows that concession speeches are supposed to be gracious and sincere-sounding.

  4. The money was, in fact, very much on Mr. Romney’s side in this case, but I still like the comparison.

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