For the past two years I have been holding my breath. The pain and worry has only grown the more I saw and there were times when, given a wish, I would wish for an election where I didn’t feel like my and the basic rights of my friends and loved ones were in immediate peril. This was a long, scary election season that is now over. My emotions can be summed up by two West Side Story songs: this one for before 11:30 and this one for after. Both are mixed feelings, and that hasn’t changed. Nothing left but the analysis. In bullet point format.
– The consensus among Obama supporters is not really a feeling of joy akin to 2008, but a feeling of relief. This election wasn’t really about a far reaching vision, it was about trying very hard to hold on to the advances that we made and to prevent things like gay rights from stalling and women’s rights from reversing. It wasn’t about a grand idea of what the future could be, it was about avoiding having wasted four years.
– That being said, this election was the Republicans’ to lose. They could have taken this in a walk all over the country, but the overreached badly. They saw an opportunity and decided that so long as it was theirs, they might as well run on every crazy idea they’ve been keeping quiet. The Tea Party killed their chances at the Senate by nominating people like Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and Linda McMahon. There’s no reason why they should have lost Indiana and Missouri, but by ditching Dick Lugar in the former and nominating the person Claire McCaskill wanted to run against in the latter, they basically gave Democrats the seats. Also, 2008 Mitt Romney would be president now, but an increasingly rabid base demanded that he run to the right as far as he could and President Obama held him to his word.
– Every one of the “rape isn’t that bad” candidates lost except for Steve King. This is a good sign, and King was pretty much a lock to begin with, so I’m not worried.
– Speaking of locks, Michelle Bachmann won, but by the skin of her teeth. Fellow reality denialist Allen West seems to have lost his seat, so I suppose that means he has to torture people unofficially now.
– As of this writing, Florida has not been called, but it’s such an amazingly close race with the president in the lead. I really, really would like my state to stay blue. On an up note, Amendment 1, which would have pointlessly tried to prevent the individual mandate from taking effect here, and Amendment 8, which would have sent taxpayer money to religious organizations, both failed miserably. So did Amendment 6, which prevents tax money from being used on abortions, which is already banned by the Hyde Amendment. Also, Bill Nelson won re-election and Alan Grayson got sent back to the House after losing in 2010.
– One of the major disappointments was that out atheist Pete Stark lost his congressional seat to Peter Palumbo-style Democrat Eric Swalwell. I wouldn’t be as ungodly angry about this if Swalwell didn’t run against Stark’s atheism. So it looks like we won’t be doubling the number of atheists in Congress this year.
– That being said, it looks like Kyrsten Simena may win the AZ-9! Full disclosure, I’m a little in love with this woman, since I heard speeches she’s done. The presidential race was about fear and avoiding the extreme Republican plans, but this was the race that my heart was in. If Simena wins, she will be the first open bisexual in Congress, as well as the first open atheist to be elected (Pete Stark was outted after he already has the seat). She’s also an amazing speaker and, with Alan Grayson winning his old seat back, I would love to see the two of them team up and tear the Hill apart. It’s still a very close race, but as counting continues, her lead increases. She is my people twice over and I will be so incredibly proud to see her go to Congress.
– Similarly, speaking of queer rights, we had a lot of victories last night. Tammy Baldwin will become to first openly gay member of the Senate from the great state of Wisconsin. But even more exciting than that, we swept marriage equality! Gay marriage was approved in three states and an effort to ban it in Minnesota was defeated. I wouldn’t even allow myself to consider that a sweep was possible, so this has shocked and delighted me. And in a less-noticed race, NOM failed to unseat an Iowa judge who voted to bring marriage equality to that state. By a lot.
– My offer to help anyone who said that they were moving to socialist paradise, Canada, if Obama wins another term still stands. I am not going to stand in your way of doing something irrational that makes nights like this even more likely in the future.
– I sincerely believe, despite people like John Cornyn saying otherwise, that Republicans need one more really bad defeat before they start fielding moderates again. This time they will pull the “we weren’t conservative enough” narrative. Fox was doing that within five minutes of Ohio being called. They refuse to believe that their ideas are way outside the mainstream and keep hoping that a base they’re trained to support anything they say and a media machine that will prevent them from having enough data for critical thinking will push them over the top.
– Speaking of which, Michael Steele’s idiotic analysis on MSNBC had me in fits of laughter. He claimed that this wasn’t a rejection of conservatism, just of the way it was presented. “We sounded unsympathetic.” The fact of the matter is, when you tell people that they cannot visit their same-sex partners in the hospital and have to carry their rapist’s baby, you are unsympathetic. There’s no “presentation” that makes that anything less than monstrous.
– The conspiracy theories will begin any minute now. Get ready for people to start saying that we’ll be a dictatorship in two years, talk about joining militias, grumbling about Kenyan Muslims, and saying that guns will disappear despite no evidence of it happening. My only regret about all of this is that we have to listen to four more years of this lunacy.
– There are a whole lot of implications for what was really a very blue tide, but I am so tired. I look with dread on the idea of armoring up to defeat Rick Scott in two years, considering he will pull every dirty trick he can to get re-elected. Mostly, I’m just exhausted with the whole thing. We won, and now we get a small reprieve before having to do this again, but it was so draining to phone bank and drive people to polls and write like crazy here and try to change every mind I could. I need a rest and just hope the lessening in rhetoric for a while might help.
What I can say is that this election was about a lot of things. Demographics was a big one, and Republicans lost partially because they tried to tell minorities that they shouldn’t care about the things they do care about and care about the economy instead. Being told that our concerns were meaningless compared to vague and unsubstantiated promises of economic prosperity was a lot like being asked why we would want a cow when we could have these magic beans instead.
It also was about a party that ran one of the most dishonest campaigns ever and still did well with people who didn’t really care about what was real, they cared about winning.
Mostly, it was about what we want as a country, and that’s still unclear. I would think that we want unity, but unity at no cost. We will have four more years of hard fights and gridlock if we don’t learn to bend on some things, which disappoints everybody but is vital. I’m not sure how we get there, but maybe, just maybe, we’ll find a way through this mess.