We won. By we I don’t mean “Democrats”. I mean liberals, and progressives. The Republican party has been saying, not quite to itself, that this was the last election they could hope to win without the Hispanic vote. They were wrong.
I think they knew they were wrong. One of the things which cost them the election was how that fear, of losing the levers of power they’ve been holding for so long, manifested itself. The huge efforts they mad to make it harder for non-white, and poorer, people to vote were strong indicators they feel vulnerable to that demographic shift already (1,2,3,4,5,6).
For some reason they went full-court press to try and get the White, reactionary vote. It was stupid. It was stupid because that group is getting smaller; because they are dying. and the War on Women they said they weren’t waging… they lost. Women turned out in larger numbers, and skewed way to the left of the men in their demographics.
The youth vote turned out; they aren’t slacking and things like Facebook, and Tumblr and Twitter make it easier to be in touch and (as I discovered once I got a smart phone) are motivating. The combined act of seeing other encourage yo and of being able to encourage others is a positive reinforcement. That’s powerful shit. It’s enfranchising. When the mis-calibrated machine in was discovered, and tweeted and made national news in an hour… that made it seem people really had some power. It reduces the the sense of being an insignificant speck, and replaces it with the sense that one is part of a greater whole. Nixon once said, “Until one has been part of something greater than oneself, one has not lived.” In times like these social media make it easier to join something greater than self.
But it’s not over. We won a battle, the war goes on. The Conservative movement in this country isn’t calling it quits. They have never admitted anything in defeat, even as they demand concessions when victorious. Gaslighting is a thing they do with appalling regularity. When they win it’s “Elections have consequences”. When they lose one is, “we have to put our constituents first.” For some reason, inexplicable, the Dems seem to think this is perfectly reasonable, and they don’t stand up to Republican bullying.
Grover Norquist is pulling this shit already. According to him the 3 million votes Obama racked up. above and beyond the 50+1 he needed to win the popular vote is proof that the election meant the Republicans need to be appeased. That’s bullshit. It’s dangerous bullshit. If we let the Dems listen to this crap we’ll get more the Republican Obstructionism that we’ve been subjected to for the past four years.
We can’t let it happen.
The exit polling says the world the Republicans believe is the Way Things Ought To Be, is headed the way of the Dodo. The question is merely how much we will let them screw us over; how much institutional damage will we allow them to commit on their way off the stage.
Women, the under 45 vote, hispanics, urban voters all went for Obama. That’s only going to get worse for Republicans as time goes on, and the older people die. As White Men become more of a minority that will increase.
They hate that. They are fighting, tooth and nail to prevent it. Bill O’Reilly, in his, “throwdown” with John Stewart was asked if we ought to do away with the Electoral College. He said no; because that would let the majority choose who the president is. When he was asked what happened last night he said, “It’s not a traditional America anymore… 20 years ago President Obama would have been roundly defeated by an establishment candidate… the White Establishment is now the minority.” His analysis was that a lot of voter, ” want stuff.” I’d say he has it reversed, a lot of voters are tired of being told only the White Establishment is allowed to have “stuff”. Stuff like equal pay for equal work. Stuff like presumption of innocence. Stuff like the right to serve in the military, or to marry.
The thing is, this election had a lot of harbingers to show that the sentiment of the nation is shifting. Four ballot measures about same-sex marriage were on the ballot. In all four of those the people said same-sex marriage was fine with them. That reversed the previous trend of 30-0 against. Two states legalised recreational use of marijuana. Three women were not only elected to the Senate, but one of them is openly not-straigt. One of them is a Progressive whom the Right waged a campaign to keep out an appointed office. All of them also defeated incumbents.
When Norquist tells his supporters that the lack of major shift in the House is evidence of the “Central Right” sensibility of the US, he is ignoring that. He’s also failing to consider the dichotomy between what he, and his fellows, who are in control of the Republican Party, are presenting as, “center right”. Nixon, and Eisenhower, were they running today couldn’t get so much as nominated, they are too Liberal for the Democrats to consider them. Nixon is too liberal for the “Liberals”. Even if we accept the US is “center right” that’s one hell of an indictment of the present landscape.
So what does it mean? Not a damned thing if we don’t keep the Dems feet to the fire. The things we care about, be it closing Guantanamo, ending drone strikes, reversing the loss of civil liberties, dismantling DHS and TSA, solving the issues of immigration, actually instituting single-payer health care, fixing income inequality, making equal rights for women more real, working to make equal rights for everyone fact; not myth.
We have the ability, but we have to exercise it.
Don’t just celebrate, organise.