Originally posted on my own site - The Political is Personal
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.