It’s 7 November!
That means the election is over. The absurd attack ads, the ping-pong vitriol, the campaigning — all of it. Except on Facebook, where people are awfully depressed in my news feed. Which isn’t overly representative of what most of my friends actually think — on my author Facebook, there is a disproportionate number of conservative religious folk who are writers I know.
You know what else is over? Seeing Mitt’s beatific, oddly non-expressive cardboard smile everywhere. I’m grateful for that. There are many things I’m grateful for today.
Here are some of my rather general thoughts on yesterday.
My post yesterday was the story of my second mum and her partner, with whom she has been in love for over twenty years. Today, I woke up in a world where not only can NeeNee marry Carrie in their home state of Washington, but my friends and loved ones here in Maryland are free to marry whomever they choose in mine. And in Maine. And Minnesota voters condemned a ban on same-sex marriage, voting NOT to instate it in theirs.
Wisconsin elected America’s first openly gay senator.
I can’t express what it means to me that these huge steps were taken. When I grew up, it was before even Will and Grace. Before homosexuality really started to gain acceptance. And in my short lifetime, I’ve lived to vote for equality. And after the disappointment in California and other states in the last four years, waking up today and telling myself again what happened yesterday only reaffirmed the belief that it gets better.
It gets better.
A whopping 54% of the electorate yesterday was female. Yesterday’s results can be credited in large part to the women of America for making a choice to vote for a man who respects us, doesn’t talk down to us, doesn’t make outrageous comments about rape (or binders), respects our rights to our own bodies, acknowledges our potential and contributions to society, believes we should be compensated fairly for our work, and above all, is a man who believes his two daughters are going to change the world.
I see that every time I watch Barack Obama look at the two first daughters. And in what he said about them last night, putting their strength and intelligence before their beauty. That language is telling more than anything else.
Yesterday is what happens when women vote in force, and I could not be more proud. Romney lost over 12% of the women who had voted for McCain. More on that in a minute.
We women are real winners today.
Alongside the massive turnout of women was the massive turnout of African-American and Latino voters. I have no doubt that this decided the election. More and more, our country is a diverse nation filled with people from all over the planet. We are all guests and immigrants, and the demographics of our country are not a static thing. They are changing.
I personally love it. It means people still want to come here. And it will force us to work together. Which brings me to my next thought.
In this election, Mitt Romney alienated huge demographics of America by taking hardlined stances about immigration, electing a running mate who co-authored a bill with blackballed GOP Senator Todd Akin that included the term “forcible rape,” threatened to cut Medicaid, and got caught calling 47% of the country freeloading jerks.
From here on out, no election will be won without the support of women, African-Americans, the GLBTQ community, and (not or) Latinos.
Let me repeat that in a different way: America is no longer a nation that can be controlled by straight white Christian men.
The face of America has changed while the GOP was busy stewing for the last 6 or so years.
And you won’t convince me that’s a bad thing. This country will move forward, and if the GOP can’t adapt, can’t make themselves relevant to minorities and less repulsive to women, a new party will take their place. More and more Americans identify as independents. What that says to me is that the Republican party’s uber-conservative social policies have made it abhorrent to a large chunk of the country that would otherwise be considered fiscally conservative or moderate.
More and more people believe that civil marriage is a civil right. More and more people believe that immigrants to this country should get to stay here. More and more people believe that women should have the rights to choose when and if they have children. More and more people believe that women should be compensated the same as men for performing the same jobs.
Those are not currently values of the Republican party. The rest of America is shifting away from an extremely conservative base, and that extremely conservative base does not like it.
I’ve said multiple times this election that if Mitt Romney was running on the same principles that made him governor of Massachusetts, he would have a chance at my vote. But I can’t take a politician seriously when he says one thing to one person, then turns around and says something diametrically opposed to the first statement to someone else and repeats that cycle indefinitely.
The GOP needs to remake their party, because guess what? Latino voters, African-American voters, LBGTQ voters, and women are not going anywhere in this country. I think we saw last night that the minorities formed a coalition to get a majority.
Also lost to the GOP was the youth vote. One of the pundits last night said that historically speaking, if youth vote for one party three times, they won’t switch later. And the youth went overwhelmingly to Obama again. The next generation is moving leftward organically, especially on social issues.
The Republicans would be wise to consider that starting now.
Or, you know, don’t. Whatever. I’m just saying that if they want to win elections, they need to stop alienating over half of the country. That’s not crazy libbie speak. That’s simple arithmetic.
It’s gonna be a long, hard climb. Onto a saner time, so I invite you, friend. Come take my hand.*
I woke up today to a nation deeply divided.
Deeply, painfully divided.
I only have to look at my news feed on Facebook to see that some people (so far all white, mostly middle-aged, all Christian in the case of my Facebook people) are hugely distressed by last night’s outcome.
I don’t have any words of comfort. The world is changing, and they feel frustrated and probably disenfranchised. I can only guess that many people, either consciously or subconsciously, believe that their values are getting sidelined.
One thing I would say, which is admittedly a bit of a devil’s advocate-y thing to say to them, is this: if the wide perception of your party is that it is a party of hatred and exclusion, you need to be asking yourself honestly why. Not getting upset with people, because we all know how much that changes minds. Not pointing to the Bible, because all of us are wondering why you point to the Old Testament and Paul’s writings instead of the red letters. Not trying to convince us that gay people are evil, because that’s just silly.
Ask yourselves why so many people think your party is exclusive and hateful. Don’t start in with Rush Limbaugh apologetics, actually think about it. And better yet, talk to people and hear why they think that. I guarantee you they have reasons. If you want to maintain or not lose more political power, you have to compromise with the changing face of your nation.
Don’t get left behind. We have a long road ahead to recovering this nation. Come with us instead of digging in your heels.
I’ll wrap up with this, The New Colossus, which people always seem to forget is emblazoned on our Statue of Liberty:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
That is what our nation was founded upon.
What do you think about the election? Are you satisfied with the outcome? How are you going to take up the responsibility to move our country forward?
*These are sort of paraphrased lyrics to a Libby Roderick song.
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