Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Victory and Defeat

As Reed, the head of Butler Democrats said:

"Yes, that's right: the state that at one point had the largest population of KKK members of anywhere in the country, a state whose politics had long been corrupted by racists and segregationists, a state that had not elected a Democrat for President in 44 years, a state that re-elected George W. Bush in 2004 by a 60-40 margin, this same state elected a black, liberal, intellectual Democrat named Barack Hussein Obama as President!"

Indiana: dragged kicking and screaming into the modern world, but by a much wider margin than any of us expected. I think the final count was about fifteen thousand votes' worth of difference.

I'm amazed. We figured Obama would win the presidency, but Indiana? Really?

We waited to start drinking until Indiana's results were certain, but we did it! Guys, we shoved Indiana into the blue. As Suzanne said,
Obama has reminded us that this country was not just founded on the promise of financial opportunity. It was founded on the promise of -ideaological- opportunity. Of liberty and equality.

Until now, it's been fashionable to be cynical. But I think that's been to hide the pain we've felt as a society, for being so let down, for falling so short of our ideals.

And now, suddenly, it seems that this election tells us that the idealists are still a majority in this country after all.

THAT gives me hope.

Me, too. Other great commentary on this follows.

Daughter of slave votes for Obama
Amanda Jones, 109, the daughter of a man born into slavery, has lived a life long enough to touch three centuries. And after voting consistently as a Democrat for 70 years, she has voted early for the country's first black presidential nominee.

Historic Election Stirs Homeless to Vote
Frederick Williams, a Marine Corps veteran scraping by on unemployment benefits, describes his living situation as "not homeless but close to it" and says he never cared enough to vote -- until Tuesday.

At age 43, Williams shuffled into a Los Angeles homeless shelter carrying his worldly belongings in a small travel case and a knotted plastic bag and proudly cast the first ballot of his life with guidance from poll workers.

Williams said he voted for Barack Obama, whose message of hope and bid to become the first black president of the United States stirred him like no other politician.

"This is history in the making. I wanted to be part of that," said Williams, who lives in a transient hotel a few blocks from the polling station at the Los Angeles Mission.

"For once in my lifetime ... someone really cares about the small people out there."

Williams was one of hundreds of people -- many first-time voters lacking permanent dwellings -- who cast ballots this year on Skid Row, a 50-block downtown area believed to harbor the highest concentration of homeless in the United States.

Poll Analysis!
Digging through the numbers, we see:

* Obama won self-identified independents (52% to 44%), and self-identified moderates (60% to 39%). I guess no one believed the whole "maverick" thing.

* While Obama did far better with white voters than most recent Democratic candidates, McCain still won every age of whites -- except whites under 30, who strongly backed Obama (54% to 44%).

* Obama narrowly won among men (49% to 48%), and won among women by a large margin (56% to 43%).

* For all the talk about Obama being unable to win over Hispanic support, Hispanic voters backed Obama by more than a 2-to-1 margin. McCain's Hispanic support dropped 10 points from Bush's four years ago.

* Obama won Roman Catholic voters, another group he was supposed to lose.

I started making some notes the other day about the presidential election, the turning points, the strategies, etc. And it occurred to me that the entire Republican strategy was based on nothing but fear. Fear of change, fear of hope, fear of a skinny man with a funny name. Fear of socialism, fear of a tax increase, fear of government. Fear of anything that looked, sounded, or might be perceived as foreign. Fear of the light at the end of the tunnel -- it might be a train. (...)

It was striking to see how Americans responded to the fear-mongering. Obama's lead over McCain in the polls grew in the face of the economic crisis, but the lead even more when McCain and his party tried desperately to scare Americans. The more we were supposed to feel afraid, the more voters responded to Obama's message. The more intense the smears against him, the higher Obama's favorability ratings.

There were quite a few messages for the political world yesterday, but one came through loud and clear: We don't want to be afraid anymore.

Photos of Reactions Around the World

But lest progressives get too caught up in our victory, there is still a lot of work to be done. Proposition 8 (the California proposition being pushed by the LDS church to ban gay marriage and probably annul the marriages already performed) is looking strong. As someone with great respect for the establishment of marriage (something I didn't understand until I was in a years-long committed relationship of a my own), this saddens me.

As arctangent said, "I want to celebrate, I really do, but Yes We Can (But No, Gays Can't) is a rather difficult message for me to rally around."

Ballot Measure Results from CNN

The commitments of homosexuals were declared invalid in Arkansas (where they are now forbidden to adopt children), California and Florida (where they are now unable to marry their partners).

Stay strong, guys. This is your country, too. We haven't forgotten you. But here's my question: Where were YOU?
Constitutional ban on same-sex marriages passes by 238,000 votes statewide. (...)

And hey, San Francisco... the entire city cast only 177,000 "no" votes?! What gives? That's less than Pride Day! Where are the other 500,000 of you on this issue?

Help us out, here. We love you guys and we know you love each other. I know it's hard to be told again and again that you aren't capable of the same feelings and commitments that straight people are, and I know it's hard to be an exhilerated newliwed and then to have it taken away by people who claim they "don't discriminate."

But if you don't fight, who will? I know that it hurts to lose out on the Prop 8 battle because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints spread terrible lies about you and about this Proposition.

Right now there's a push to get the LDS church's tax-exempt status revoked because they used a religious organization to influence politics. Some info on that is here. At first I was on board with it, since I think that they were way out of line here. However, they were well within their rights even if they have permanently lost the respect of non-homophobic people nationwide.

So we may not be able to justify stripping them of their status with the IRS, but you can bet that the next time Mormons come to my door, they'll hear from me. And they will have some explaining to do and they will not enjoy it. Because if they're no friends of yours they're no friends of mine.

I know how much this must hurt, even if I probably can't really feel it as keenly as you must be. But I'm here. As long as you're still fighting, I'll be right with you. We'll get there.

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