Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election post-mortem

I admit I am still basking in the glow of this Tuesday's election results. After several months of vitriol, hate-mongering, and a near constant stream of statements from Republican candidates that made me seriously question what century they were in, the American electorate for the most part rejected their desperate attempts to sow fear and division. And that makes me feel pretty darned good, especially with how things turned out in Minnesota. Continuing our tradition of having among the best voter turnout in the nation (something like 75%, meaning there is still plenty of room for improvement) we soundly rejected both the badly written Voter ID amendment and the spiteful Marriage Amendment, and threw out the Republican bums in the state House and Senate that wasted our time and money by putting them on the ballot in the first place.While true marriage equality will still require legislative action to change existing law, with the DFL controlling both chambers and the governor's office the hurdles to this are now much lower than they might otherwise have been. Indeed by putting the Marriage Amendment on the ballot the Republicans not only badly hobbled their own electoral chances, they may hasten the exact thing they were (in theory) trying to prevent. The irony is quite delicious. And while I am pretty sure Minnesota will not turn into a progressive paradise overnight, the next two years present a golden opportunity to put the state's fiscal policy back on sound footing and make badly overdue investments in infrastructure and education.

Nationally, there were also many great strides made. Obama will get the chance to fully implement many of the reforms he set in motion, as well as potentially pick a couple more Supreme Court justices. The GOP Rape Brigade was sent home with their tails between their legs in a trouncing that will hopefully make sure attacks on reproductive freedom are never again a winning proposition. The Senate will be getting a true financial cop on the beat in Elizabeth Warren, where she can use her bully pulpit to make Wall Street play by the rules and ensure that the fraudsters get iron handcuffs instead of golden parachutes. And while the House remains in GOP control, which given the advantages of incumbency and the relative safety of gerrymandered districts was not surprising, they now have fewer Senate allies and will face an emboldened president who knows he no longer has to take their shit.

Most important of all though, is that the writing is now clearly on the wall for the White, conservative, fundamentalist brand of politics that has dominated the Republican party for the past decade. Race-baiting, fact-denying, rights-restricting, and inequality-exacerbating are no longer going to win them statewide (except in the old Confederacy) or presidential races, so in order to remain relevant the GOP will need to, in classic Darwinian fashion, adapt or die out.

I have seen a fair number of election cycles, some of which have left me satisfied and others dejected, but this is the first time I am coming out of one with true elation. Politics, they say, is the art of the possible, but after Tuesday's results those possibilities have become much more hopeful, and make me proud to be both an American and a Minnesotan.   

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