It’s been a pity party of grand proportions for many Republicans since Tuesday, with politicians and pundits seeking to blame the outcome of the election on everything from sinister pollsters to Mitt Romney being, if you can believe it, “not conservative enough”.
Did I say pity party? Over at Fox News Channel it’s been a regular pity prom. Karl Rove, following his election night meltdown when Ohio was called for Obama, has since fingered, among other things, Hurricane Sandy (the idea of Christian conservatives struggling to come to grips with the idea of an Act of God favoring the Democrats is just too delicious) to (irony alert) voter suppression. The simple fact that Barack Obama will be staying in the White House because more Americans want him there is something Mr. Rove seems unable to fathom.
On election night, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly had this to say: "Obama wins because it's not a traditional America anymore. The white establishment is the minority. People want things." The following morning Fox News commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano concurred: “O’Reilly is right … he put his finger on the meaning of the evening. We’re talking about a dangerous situation … the majority of Americans no longer embraces the traditions that we were taught as children ... things are changing right before our eyes and we need to be aware of what’s happening.”
Tell me about it, Judge. This is not the America I grew up in either. But my America was not O’Reilly’s or Napolitano’s America. Their America never really existed. Not in 1789 or 1861 or 1918 or in the 1960s and 1970s when I was growing up. The lily-white, white collar, white bread Traditional America they’re thinking of - the America where Dad liked Ike, Mom wore pearls while dusting, and their 2.4 children never heard of Ludlow, Little Rock, Selma, Stonewall or Wounded Knee - was a myth manufactured by marketing executives to sell cigarettes, toothpaste and automobiles. The Traditional America O’Reilly and company “remember” went off the air a long, long time ago.
Today there is a new Traditional America. New and improved. A Traditional America for the 21st century.
When Congress convenes in January there will be 97 women, the most ever, representing their constituencies in Congress, including 20 in the Senate. For the first time, one state’s (New Hampshire’s) entire congressional delegation - senators and representatives - will be women. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) is the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate and the first Buddhist. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) has been elected America’s first openly gay senator. Freshman congressman Mark Takano (D-California) is both Asian-American and gay. The first Hindu congresswoman, Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) will join Muslim incumbents Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) and André Carson (D-Indiana). They will serve with Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), a Thai-born, double amputee war hero, also elected this past Tuesday. The 113th Congress will have a record number of Latinos, 31, as well as 45 African-Americans, 11 Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, and one Native American, Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma).
This is what democracy looks like. Those who make the decisions and the laws in our country are finally beginning to represent the real America.
And sitting in the Oval Office is a popularly elected leader of mixed race who represents us all.