My site is not about politics, but these events are too big to pass without remark, and many of them do relate to social justice and skepticism.
The end of white power
The white portion of the electorate is now just 72%, lower than ever, and projected to drop more by 2016. Obama got just 39% of that segment. The GOP can not longer count of the white vote to win presidential elections, largely attributed to a growing hispanic population and the demographic shift as the baby-boomer generation dies off.
These facts no doubt inspire a certain panic among certain conservatives. Some of whom have been freaking out about the diminishing stranglehold of whiteness on political power, apparently without irony. We can only wait and see how the GOP will respond to this demographic threat to its power base. NBC news predicts a battle within the GOP of it’s “mathematicians” (those who understand these demographic shifts) versus the “priests” (those who believe faith in ideals carry elections).
While it’s unfortunate that race is a major factor in the consideration of any candidate/vote pair, the hysteria is unwarranted. We should evaluate candidates based on issues. To the conservatives I say, hey those brown-skinned people you fear? They’re Americans, like you. And America needs some of them to step and lead, too.
The end of the power of the religious right?
This is less than certain, but this election was the worst ever for the Christian Right in America. To start with, a minority Christian sect often considered a “cult” or “not really Christian” by many churches was the only choice to back. No mainline Christian conservative could even win a primary, let alone the oval office. That aside, Romney/Ryan didn’t much court the “values” voters. Not a single “family values” issue was at the core of Romney’s campaign which focused on economic and foreign policy.
American’s without any religious affiliation is, by far, the fastest growing group and it now accounts for 20% of Americans, even higher among the younger demographics. In light of these facts, the once-powerful Christian Right, credited with launching Ronald Reagan era conservative domination, is no longer decisive in elections and never will be again.
The best damn night for gender equality in a long time
19 women will serve in the next United States Senate, an historical high mark (previously 17)
First openly gay Senator in history, Tammy Baldwin (and she’s a democrat from Wisconsin. Think on that, Paul Ryan)Elizabeth Warren defeated the republican incumbent in Massachusetts
Opponents of women’s rights and sayers of crazy rape stuff were all defeated:
While 19 is not enough female senators and there are still plenty of misogynist representatives out there, this is good progress and it sends a clear signal about what kind of people get to represent us.
Ballots in four states had same-sex marriage initiatives in play. In Maryland, Maine, and Washington legality was at stake. Minnesota voted on an amendment banning same-sex marriage. For the first time, ever, voters (as opposed to legislatures and judges) passed same-sex marriage- and not just one place, but three! Maine, Maryland, and Washington have all voted to legalize same sex marriage. Congratulations to citizens of those states! Meanwhile, Minnesotans defeated the amendment, perhaps a positive sign for the future.
With the President’s endorsement of marriage equality, and more states than ever voting to legalize, it can be hoped that today puts a great deal of pressure on the remaining states to catch up.
The criminalization of a comparatively innocuous drug (compared to say, alcohol) under the overdramatized “drug war” banner has taken a nearly incalculable toll on the nation. The first cost is economic. Half of the United States’ vast prison population are there for drug charges alone. We all have to pay the bill to arrest, try, and imprison these perpetrators of victimless, non-violent crimes. Drug laws in the US have also pretty much always been motivated by racism. This is why originally some drug laws only applied to non-whites. Today, they unfairly target minorities in both enforcement and sentencing. Lastly, the banning of pot is totally unconstitutional. It has been justified under incredibly weak “interstate commerce” auspices, even in cases where a single person with no mode of transportation merely possesses a tiny amount in which they have no means or will to sell to anyone in another state.
Five states had initiatives or amendments legalizing the use of pot:
Washington: passed (recreational)
Colorado: passed (recreational)
Massachusetts: passed (medicinal)
This is a huge win for liberty and social justice! Overt legalization of purely recreational use is legal in two states for the first time ever. It’s worth noting, too, that the defeats were narrow. In Oregon the measure won 45% of votes and in Arkansas 49%. 22 US states have medical, recreational, or marijuana decriminalization statutes. It remains to be seen how the Obama Department of Justice will respond to these changes.
Puerto Rico votes to become a state?
Puerto Rican’s voted for the 4th time on the issue of whether or not the status quo of relations with the United States should change. For the first time ever they voted to change. Of the possible options for changing (full autonomy, “more” autonomy, or statehood), statehood had the most votes with 61%, but fewer people voted for the second part than the first. Ultimately, the US congress will decide if this constitutes a clear desire among Puerto Ricans to become a state, and only Congress has the power to make it happen. Still, riveting stuff!
Genetically modified foods labelling
Californian’s, myself included, voted against a law mandating foods with GMO components to be labelled as such. This was not a good initiative because it would have raised food prices, hurting the poor for the benefit of the well-to-do hipsters with an irrational fear of modern scientific agricultural advances. There is no evidence that GMO foods are harmful.
While I find much to criticize about President Obama, and about democrats in general (I am not a member of theirs, or any party) this election night brought more hope and change than most of us dreamed of and not just promises, but realities. Fewer people getting arrested for harmless non-crimes. More people being able to marry the person they love. An eroding stranglehold on power by a single xenophobic group.
This is the slow, inevitable march of progress.