My preferred outcome came to fruition, Romney lost. That is not to suggest that I supported Obama. Obama’s white-washing of criminal torture (we signed a treaty which is binding law), use of drone attacks, support of warrantless wiretaps, prosecution of whistleblowers, increased federal raids on medical marijuana clinics compared to Bush, and other examples of executive overreach made me extremely unsupportive of Obama. However, Romney would have maintained, at the least, and done much worse in these areas (reinstituting torture).
I almost ran the wish-list table here as well. By and large, the far right wing republicans were sent home. Richard ‘rape is a gift from god’ Mourdock and Todd ‘magic uterine powers’ Akin lost to not insane candidates. Also Allen ‘only my religion counts’ West is unemployed. The legislative IQ average increased by 6.4 points with the loss of Akin and West.
Locally, I was most heartened that my senator is still Amy Klobuchar and my representative is still Betty McCollum. Furthermore, Rick Nolan defeated Chip Cravaack. I was less heartened that Michele ‘swine flu is a democratic plot’ Bachmann was reelected again. However, there is a rainbow with Bachmann’s reelection. Based on redistricting, which made the MN 6th district even more conservative than it was previously, and the fact that she spent 10 times more than her opponent, Bachmann should have won in a landslide. She won by 1.18% (4207 votes). On a positive note Keith Ellison was also reelected. As an actual Muslim, you know that has to chaff Bachmann’s hide.
In this case, I ran the table. My senator is Bev Scalze and representative is Jason Isaacson. More importantly, both houses are in DFL hands as is the executive. Maybe some things can get done.
Two No’s for victory! The constitutional amendment to redefine marriage as one man:one woman failed. The religious right used the meme that gay marriage was a redefinition, but as far as I can see marriage has been a moving target since its inception and has until recently in the US been a mechanism of property control (the property being women). In an example of cognitive dissonance the party most aligned with ‘traditional marriage’ also flocked behind Mitt Romney whose own religion supported polygamy until the US army threatened to squash them out of existence.
Secondly, the voter ID amendment also failed. This was a strategic plot to disenfranchise voters most likely to vote democratic, veiled in a logical sounding sound bite.
The Way Forward:
We all know the election results, it’s old news. So now what? Do we wait until the 2014 election hoping things get done? The short answer is ‘no’, or at least I want to suggest you should not think the answer is no. Now is the time to actually try and get something done. The politicians we just sent to office are now, at least unconsciously, beginning to think about reelection. So if you were motivated before, stay that way. Now is the time to start writing to your senators and representatives at the state and federal level. Tell them what you think and why. Do not simply say that you are for or against something, tell them why you are for it or against it. Give them the evidence/ammunition to use to help deliver what you want.
Insist on rationales. If your senators and representatives are for or against something, then have them explain why. Even if your preferred candidate didn’t win, contact your senators and representatives. They must understand they represent you, not simply those who voted for them. If your candidate is against tax cuts on the job creators, ask them for evidence that the tax cuts will create more jobs or that the job creators actually create jobs. You might even use evidence to bolster your questions. Did you get an answer you do not like? Write a letter to the editor in the local paper. Do some shit.
Do you have a skill set or expertise? Contact your senators and representatives let them know and volunteer your expertise in the event an issue comes up that you might be able to help with. Are you a licensed plumber? Let your congress people know that. Maybe a bill will come down the pike on regulatory issues related to pipe joining compound that your expertise can provide insight. Likely this wouldn’t be the case in a major federal law, but the state representative you help out next month might be your next US senator. Remember: one hand washes the other.
Were you like me and voted against the Minnesota marriage amendment? Well, all we accomplished was to make gay marriage not exceedingly difficult to legalize. The fact is in the state of Minnesota, the legal rights associated with civil marriage are not available to a significant number of citizens. I did not support the NO vote, simply to have gay marriage be illegal. I supported the NO vote as a necessary first step to legalization as was done in Maine and Maryland in this very election. There are numerous issues the Minnesota state legislature has to deal with and two days after the election the DFL stated that they are unable to multitask. Bullshit. Now is the time to keep their feet to the fire. The state has already concluded that gays and lesbians should not be constitutionally relegated to second class citizen status, but they are relegated to second class citizen status by law. Now is the time to change that.
We just completed an election cycle where sanity beat out insanity. But you know what? In the off-cycle elections the more moderate voices stay home, which is one of the reasons we saw massive wins by the tea party in 2010. The founding of the tea party had some reasonable voices that made points worth considering, but these were quickly lost by the right wing fringe that showed up and took over the tea party. They most extreme factions vote in droves in the off-cycle elections, so now is the time to maintain your involvement because it's the best chance you have to accomplish things you believe in and/or support. Now is the time to make sure your legislators hear your voice often. (FYI: a letter saying thank you when a legislator supports your position is always appreciated.)