My blog post of yesterday was probably one of the most precise expressions of my state of mind that I’ve ever written down. Like a lot of people I spent election night monitoring results on my computer, streaming PBS and watching tweets roll by, the latter endlessly amusing. A lot of journalists were tweeting; one of them noted “Florida’s giving me a heart attack.” Before he or anyone could melt down over that gun of a state, however, it was all over but the shouting: Obama was called pretty early, before 9:00 here in California. Of course, the Mitt didn’t concede right away, so I didn’t hear Obama’s speech ‘til my middle-of-the-night bathroom summons.
They’d been telling us all along it was going to be sooooo close, which got me and a lot of other people nervous. For what seemed like hours that infernal map blushed as if deeply embarrassed. Since I tend to forget that only about six people live in each of those red states, I was gnawing on my fingernails, wishing I’d done some phone calling for the Dems, worrying about yet more material deprivation in my future…and then suddenly Pennsylvania goes for Obama, and then another populous state, and Hey will you look at that! He’s Still the One!
My whole body collapsed right here in my chair. I hadn’t realized how tense I was, but when my muscles let go in relief I knew I’d been terrified about this election. Sure, we’ve had presidents as bad as Mitt Romney—Reagan, GWBush (The Nitwit)—but none of them were emboldened the way the Republicans seem to be nowadays. I might be wrong, but I suspect that a right-leaning president would do a lot more damage today than in the past. More than The Nitwit? I ask myself. Yeah. He was incompetent, but as I said, he wasn’t operating within the same toxic atmosphere; it was only just developing when he was in power.
But it’s a moot point. Not only did Obama win, he won big. The Reps are gathering in groups, scratching their heads and yelling at one another. They lost big among young people, Hispanics, and women. Doh! No young woman in 2012 is going to vote for a man or a party that calls pregnancy by rape a God-given blessing. No Latino worker is going to vote for the party that expects him to “self-deport.” These guys better get their act together or else, as their own Michael Steele and conservative think tanker Norm Ornestein are saying, they’re going to become fully irrelevant and unelectable.
You Must Remember This
John Nichols, a writer for The Nation, said on Democracy Now this morning that people, particularly progressives, need to understand this was a big win, and pressure President Obama to use the mandate for real change. It matters a lot, says Nichols, that he didn’t just crawl into the Oval Office or squeak through by a few lousy points. Florida’s results aren’t in yet, and neither are those of Washington State and a few other places, but Obama’s ahead mostly everywhere, and by the time the counting’s done he’ll have at least 100 more electoral votes than Romney.
How this works: The bigger a President wins, the more support he has from the voting public, and the more permission he’s been tacitly granted to implement the agenda we endorsed. As Nichols pointed out, Obama’s not a big progressive; he’s not even a liberal. He’s a centrist, on top of which he has a strong tendency to compromise. The only way he’s going to be emboldened—like a Republican in similar circumstances would be—is if the people who voted for him put on the pressure. One president, I think it may have been Lyndon Johnson, told those who voted him in that now they had to make him do their bidding. We need our leaders to lead us—and they need us to push them to lead. When they enact the policies we want, they’re not being radical or despotic: they’re doing what they’re supposed to do. That is how it’s supposed to work. Our representatives represent us. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Happy Days Are Here Again / The skies above are clear again / Let’s sing a song of cheer again!
A bit of music trivia: Happy Days Are Here Again was written by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen in 1929 and used in the film Chasing Rainbows, as well as in dozens of other movies. It was the theme song for FDR’s 1932 presidential campaign and as a jumpy jingle became the unofficial song of the Democratic Party. In 1962 Barbra Streisand came along and rearranged it as a torch song for her first commercial success. Brilliant and beautiful. Check it out.
Report on the California Props :
Proposition 30: YES. Endorsed by Governor Jerry Brown, this prop temporarily increases state sales tax and income tax on individuals making over $250,000 to avoid “trigger cuts” to the state’s public education system.
Proposition 31: NO. Would have created a two-year budget cycle for state government, allowed the governor to cut the budget in fiscal emergencies, and required performance reviews in state programs. This was a blatant anti-union proposition, and big money came from out of state to support it (currently under investigation).
Proposition 33: NO. Would have required insurance companies to set rates based on previous insurance history of drivers with better rates for drivers who had insurance in the past.
Proposition 34: NO. Would have repealed California’s death penalty and replaced it with life in prison without parole. Death penalty will still be used in CA.
Proposition 35 : YES. Increases prison terms for human traffickers. Does a lot more than simply punish traffickers. This prop is a perfect example of the problems inherent in the initiative process. This looked good—after all, who’s not against human trafficking? But these are complex issues and the prop was written in such a way that most people did not see its flaws. While legal experts pointed them out, none organized or gave money towards stopping its passage—because again, who’s going to come out looking like they’re pro-trafficking? So a bad law was passed by a wide margin (80%).
Proposition 36 : YES. Changed the “Three Strikes” law so that life-in-prison sentences only apply if the third conviction [strike] is “serious or violent.”
Proposition 37: NO. Would have required labeling of genetically-modified food and prohibited it from being labeled “natural.” The food industry, especially the Monsanto corporation, spent over $20 million to fight this measure. They won, we lost. Watch what you eat–if you can tell what it is!
Proposition 38: NO. Would have hiked up state income tax for 12 years, allegedly for education.
Proposition 39: YES. Requires multi-state businesses to pay income taxes based on percentage of sales in California.
Proposition 40: YES. Keeps the California State Senate lines as they were drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission in 2010. Rep. Barbara Lee supported it.