The whole campaign season did not just depend upon the presidential race that finally came to an end last night. Yes, the country voted clearly to give Barack Obama another four years in the White House. He received more than 50 percent of the vote and won handily in the electoral college. Yet, it is what happened down the ballot that shows the nation’s move toward progressive values.
It appears that Democrats will pick up a couple seats in the lower chamber but the real change happened on the senatorial level. Voters said no way to Republicans Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock after they attempted to scapegoat women and downplay the trauma of rape and sexual abuse. Furthermore, women won in Massachusetts, North Dakota, Hawaii, and Wisconsin for their first terms. All four of them will be more progressive legislators than their predecessors. In Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin will be the first openly gay Senator. Meanwhile, Arizona will send the first openly bi-sexual person to the House as Kyrsten Simena appears to have won the 9th Congressional seat.
That leads me to four ballot initiatives in which voters said yes to equality in three state and no to discrimination in another. Maine, Maryland, and Washington voted to legalize same-sex marriage. Or better yet – recognize the love and commitment that two people have for each other, regardless of sexual orientation. Minnesota’s ballot question would have amended the state constitution to ban marriage equality. Voters said no to the amendment and state sanctioned discrimination. These four victories are the first for marriage equality at the state level.
California voters had the opportunity to vote on a few ballot initiatives (only in California) with a potential impact on the nation. Voters said yes to raising taxes the richest of California households. They also said no to limiting the political voices of working families in a proposition that would limit union involvement in election… while continuing to allow corporations near unfettered control.
Washington and Colorado did not want to be outdone. Both states voted to legalize small amounts of recreational marijuana for people over the age of 21. These two states now lead the movement to decriminalize a harmless drug that has sadly placed too many people in prison and cost taxpayers far too much money.
We could go further into the details of statewide initiatives but these pretty much show the drift of the country. Mitt Romney stayed competitive because of whites and older voters. President Obama won re-election because he appealed to a more diverse populace. He won with voters under 40 and each minority group. Simply put he won over a majority of Americans.
The results from last night do not guarantee over night success as Color of Change says in the statement:
“Throughout the election, the choice couldn’t have been more clear. President Obama’s commitment to fight for everyday people in his next term stood in stark contrast to the failed economic and social policies of the other party.
“But we’ve still got more work left to do to ensure that our efforts at the polls result in real change for our families. There are far too many folks suffering from the effects of this long-lived downturn economy, and we look forward to working with President Obama and advocates across the nation to push for reforms and policy solutions that will help Americans everywhere achieve the American Dream.”
That much is true. But the country did move to the left last night. I find it hopeful. I am heartened by the results.
Statistically I should feel the opposite. I am a straight, white male and a Christian. Born and raised in rural Illinois. I should be a Republican because of either social issues or fiscal concerns. But I do not identify with the party because of my compassion for others, regardless of who they love, their ability, their ethnicity, faith or gender. I believe in equality and justice for all. It is for those reasons that I find opportunity to further justice and equality after last night.
I welcome the work we have ahead of us because their is grace and love on the left. Walk the progressive walk and experience the grace throughout a diverse and welcoming cause. Feel the love in accepting people for who they are and the compassion to advocate for others.
The country moved to the left. Let us rejoice for today. Let us mobilize for tomorrow.
Photo by HowardLake
More posts will be coming soon. I am overwhelmed right now with a couple projects and it is hindering some work for the site itself. So, for all the people coming and reading about the controversy with Change.org, please stick around. I write a lot about the progressive movement, workers’ rights, and how the political process impacts individuals.
In the meantime please enjoy a little Lee Camp.
Kos notes the changing demographics in polls coming from four states that will vote on marriage equality in November. Marriage equality would win in each of the four states.
Washington – 51-42
Maine – 55-36
Maryland – 57-37
Minnesota – 49-44
We still have a lot of work to do in each of these four states but we are on the right track.
By now you have heard that President Barack Obama position on marriage equality finally evolved into support. All of this happens the day after North Carolina residents overwhelmingly backed an amendment to their state constitution banning it (and a host of other domestic partnership rights). The state that Obama carried in 2008 joined the rest of the former confederate states in once again saying one class of citizens is inferior to the majority of the voting bloc.
Having a person in the powerful position such as the Presidency of the United States carries, well in Vice President Joe Biden’s words, a big stick. Sadly, the movement for marriage equality will not see the most powerful person use that stick and fight for them. Obama’s announcement makes it clear that he will continue to leave it up to individual states. A place where marriage equality has lost each and every time it has been on the ballot. This is despite a majority of Americans now in support of marriage equality.
The basic rights of people cannot be left up to the states. We cannot live in the United States while individual states divide against each other in battle to legally recognize the love of two people regardless of their sexual orientation.
Obama cloaked his struggle with marriage equality in his Christian faith. Others hide behind the same faith to discriminate against their neighbor, coworker, or even a close family member. You may have heard someone say that marriage is an sacred agreement with God. My faith tells me a loving relationship cannot be denied and should be more fully nourished. But that is not the argument. The fight exists within the eyes of the law, not in the eyes of God. We cannot begin to see the same as God but we can try to see the foundation of our nation’s laws – the Constitution.
Preventing two men or two women from obtaining a legal document that recognizes their relationship in the same manner as mine is a violation of the Constitution. I will not stand for it and neither should the President. The people elected him to head the executive branch of our country to uphold the Constitution. He took an oath to do so despite Chief Justice John Roberts fumbling of it during the inauguration.
So I will not cheer or applaud the President on something that he should have already done. We can only ask how much longer for justice and equality. We can only look on in disbelief and wonder what more can we do.
The fight moves onto Washington and Minnesota where voters will say yes or no to equality for gay and lesbian couples. If President Obama wants to leave it up to the states but personally support it then he damn well better campaign for it in those states.
I realize progress comes slowly. Powerful tells us to wait. This cannot wait. We are not the land of liberty while our country denies fellow citizens rights that others enjoy. So President Obama, welcome aboard the band wagon. Now will you lead aggressively or merely stand back and watch?
Rise Against could add a few more names to the song featured above, the latest being 14 year old Jamey Rodemeyer of Buffalo. The teen openly struggled with his sexuality and sought acceptance from others in his school and online.
“JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND [sic] UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” one post said, according to local reports. Another read, “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it It would make everyone WAY more happier!”
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