The 2012 election is over. Ballots are still being counted in some states (and counties), but what is clear is that the overall victories earned tonight — by Democrats, minorities, same-sex marriage supporters, and the President — were mainly the result of a young, female, and racially mixed electorate. That is not to say that some white, old men did not vote to move forward, but the strongest support for progressive ideas and candidates came from a generation that showed itself more tolerant than its elders, from minorities who showed themselves more progressive than Caucasians, from women who showed themselves more open to change than men.
I spent Election Night in the lobby of the Broadway Performance Hall, where the Strawberry Theatre Workshop held their Election Night Bash. Getting out my camera at just the right moment, I was able to capture the crowd’s reaction when CNN projected Obama as the winner of the Presidential Race:
As you can see, Abraham Lincoln decided to show up for the event, as did Geraldine Ferraro, back from the dead. There was trivia, and prizes, and booze, but I left with my meetup group soon after the results were called in search of a better TV (and a less noisy atmosphere). On street corners in Capitol Hill, some people were lighting up joints in anticipation of marijuana being legalized in Seattle (it was, but it comes with some restrictions).
Finding a bar with a large TV, we were able to see Mitt Romney give his concession speech (apparently, he did write one) and President Obama give his victory speech. The biggest cheer of the night? When Obama said, “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, or Hispanic or Asian, or Native American, or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try” (italics mine, to emphasize a cheer so loud that I had to go to this article to find out what Obama said after speaking those words).
The President’s re-election, however, wasn’t the only good news of the night. Along with female Democrats defeating incumbents in the Senate came the first openly gay candidate to win a Senatorial seat and the first Asian-American female to win a Senatorial seat. As for the House of Representatives, Michele Bachmann may have narrowly won her race, but the tide is turning against the Republicans, and if they do not recognize that the electorate is changing, in several years time, they, too, will become a minority.
Washington State also benefited from this changing electorate. Besides legalizing marijuana, the other big ballot measure for progressives was Referendum 74, which would legalize same-sex marriage. While it hasn’t officially passed, it looks to be heading that way. Also, voters in Seattle approved a property tax increase to repair the Alaskan Way Seawall (77%!), but then Washington voters approved two measures (Initiative 1185 and Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution 8221) that make it more difficult for the legislature to raise taxes/ borrow into debt (we really need an income tax in Washington State if we want the tax burden to be equal among all who live here, but that’s also an unpopular issue. Oh, and Tim Eyman is an asshole.). On a positive note, Democrat Jay Inslee looks like he will defeat Republican Rob McKenna (again, the ballots are still being counted, but Inslee has the advantage in King County, and without King County, Republicans can’t win the governorship).
But returning to the Presidential election. In reading through articles for this blog entry, I came across this sentence at the end of one of those articles: “Obama is the first president to win re-election with unemployment above 7.2 percent since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936.” After reading that, I thought, “How appropriate for a President who oversaw the worst economic disaster since Roosevelt,” and if he didn’t win in a landslide, like Roosevelt did, perhaps that is more a reflection of the fractured nature of our nation than a reflection of his accomplishments in office.
And, of course, we all know what Roosevelt did in his second term: he tried to balance the budget, plunging the U.S. into a deep recession. So, for all those Republicans to whom balancing the budget is a top priority: if history is any guide, this is a bad idea.
Time to move forward.
Update #1: This election also saw the first practicing Hindu elected to the House of Representatives. Go, Hawaii!
Update #2: Referendum 74 has officially passed: http://westseattleblog.com/2012/11/election-2012-marriage-equality-referendum-74-passes-county-readies-for-marriage-license-issuing