by Jan Baughman
(Swans - November 19, 2012) On November 7, 2012, the Lebanon, Ohio, tea party woke up to proclaim that "the world mourns the loss of America. Socialists, welfare and unions took over this country yesterday. Today I wear black. The day America died." As for me, after so many election cycles of disappointment, being shut out by the two-party system that doesn't represent me and that has drifted steadily to the right, I awoke feeling pretty good, thinking that when inspired people will vote their values, that actions do have consequences, and change can be more than just a campaign slogan. Was my optimism really just relief-in-disguise that the Romney/Ryan, elite white male duopoly that stands against everything that isn't them lost? Or was it true, justifiable optimism? Let's see.
Super PACs spent an estimated $2 billion to try to buy back the White House (on top of Romney's $2 billion), and still Obama won -- demonstrating that when real citizens unite and vote, they can defeat the "Citizens United" corporate front. (That said, we still need to pressure President Obama and Congress for a Constitutional amendment to repeal CU). Eighty-one percent of San Franciscans approved a measure to end corporate personhood. A symbolic vote, but momentum has to start somewhere, and it often begins in California.
Todd "legitimate rape" Akin and Richard "pregnancy caused by rape is something God intended to happen" Mourdock -- along with a handful of other anti-abortion, rape and pregnancy delusionals -- were defeated. (The joke, according to my nephew Matthew, is that you know your party is in trouble when asked if the "rape" guy won, you answer "which one?"!)
In stark contrast to the wingnuts, Elizabeth Warren took Scott Brown's US Senate seat in Massachusetts, despite the fact that "the financial services sector gave Mr. Brown more than $5.5 million to defeat her. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said that 'no other candidate in 2012 represents a greater threat to free enterprise than Professor Warren.'" (NY Times, November 11, 2012) You go, Elizabeth. Give 'em hell, and give free enterprise a run for its money... In Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin beat the conservative Republican former governor Tommy Thompson and made history twice in one night, becoming the first openly gay politician and first woman elected to the US Senate from Wisconsin. Washington, Maryland, and Maine approved gay marriage; Colorado voted to legalize recreational marijuana; and California approved a 3-year tax increase on people making over $250,000 in order to save education (all eyes will be on the state to see if the economy and job market implode and the millionaires flee en masse...), voted in favor of revising the ridiculous "Three Strikes" law, and solidly defeated yet another union-busting measure.
No, the 2012 general election wasn't perfect. There were still conservative gains and progressive losses. California yet again failed to abolish the death penalty. Environmental protections were ballot absentees across the country, and the nearly extinct third party representation took the form of 26 candidates who competed against each other for barely 1.5 million votes. However, in addition to successes previously above, this election showed that the 1% is in fact the minority. White, conservative males and their wives who stand behind them may be losing their hold on the agenda as other women, gays, "minorities" (rapidly becoming the majority...), and young people have a different vision for America to which they'll be forced to adapt. And perhaps most importantly, corporate speech may be free and well funded, but it can be silenced if we scream over it loudly enough. That alone made me wake up feeling pretty good.
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