I’d like to write more but I at least wanted to share a few brief thoughts on the election results.
My primary emotion regarding the election is one of hope and optimism that I thought I would not feel anytime in the near future. And it is not particularly related to Obama. My feeling of hope and optimism is related to the very broad sweeping victories for progressive candidates and ballot measures across the country. As Rachel Maddow put it, “Republicans got shellacked.”
Progressive victories include:
1) Abolishing the death penalty in the state of California.
2) Repealing three strikes and your out law in California.
3) Legalization of Marijuana multiple states. Holy crap, this is so friggen overdue, for so many reasons. (Check out this video of conservative economist Milton Friedman talking about this in the 60s.)
4) Tea party candidates losing across the board, which includes most notably Paul Ryan. I think the presidential election was a kind of referendum on the Ryan budget.
5) The first openly gay candidate getting elected to the Senate.
6) A general changing of the guard with so many women getting elected. I believe there are more female congress members now than at any time in history. And we now have for the first time in history a state with all female congressional representatives.
7) Elizabeth Warren winning her race. She is a dynamic progressive whom I hoping will be the next Democratic presidential candidate. Check her out breaking it down:
8) Obama defeating Mitt Romney. I suppose this should probably be on the list somewhere. I think what was interesting here is that this happened not because of Obama but actually in spite of Obama. The country voted decisively against Romney and the Republic party.
9) Gay marriage was legalized in several more states.
10) The higher than expected turnout by minorities. I just hope this trend can improve and they will not be tricked by future campaigns to vote against their interests. Rousseau said that people always want the general good but they don’t always know what it is. And it might not be as obvious next time around, or Republicans will get better at hiding their agenda. They are already talking about passing immigration reform.
Lastly I’m hopeful that as a society we now understand better that change doesn’t come from top down but from bottom up. I was watching the democracynow.org election coverage and there was a large segment that featured Benjamin Jealous of the NAACP. One of the things he said that was very powerful was that “We don’t elect a politician to make change happen, we elect a politician to allow us to make change happen.”
And I thought it was interesting that Obama said a very similar thing.
And I’m hopeful, hopefully not naively so, that there will be a lot of grassroots organizing and direct activism to move America in the direction of becoming a more just society, or “a more perfect union” to use Obama’s phrase.
I also wanted to take a moment to express gratitude to all the people who worked really hard for years to make all the of the above happen, especially those working behind the scenes registering voters, getting signatures to get measures put on the ballots, etc.