In the warm afterglow of Tuesday’s elections, it’s natural to want to take some time off to celebrate and just enjoy the fact that Mitt Romney will never be president. It’s a good feeling, I know.
We can also take some time to celebrate all of the other victories that occurred Tuesday night. We saw the election of four new female senators including the first out lesbian senator (Tammy Baldwin) and the first Asian-American female senator (Mazie Hirono), as well as the first female senators to be elected from Massachusetts and North Dakota* (Elizabeth Warren and Heidi Heitkamp, respectively)
In addition to Senator-elect Baldwin, LGBT candidates won a number of races in the House of Representatives, including our first LGBT POC Congressman (Mark Takano of California). LGBT candidates also won several races for state legislatures, even in places like West Virginia (Steve Skinner), North Dakota (Joshua Boschee), and Texas (Mary Gonzalez- our nation’s first open pansexual to be elected).
Not only that, but there were victories for marriage equality in four states. Maine, Maryland, and Washington all voted to legalize same-sex marriage, while voters in Minnesota defeated a ballot measure that would have banned it.
It’s also worth celebrating the defeat of every single member of what Rachel Maddow termed the GOP’s “creepy rape and abortion comments caucus” (aka Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Joe Walsh, John Koster, Roscoe Bartlett, Rick Berg, John McGovern, Paul Ryan, and Tom Smith). Even if you don’t believe in a deity, I’m sure we can all thank God for that.
All in all, it was a great night for the good guys. But let’s not get carried away here.
Remember 2008? Remember the Obama landslide, the 60 seats in the Senate, and the overwhelming majority in the House? Remember how ecstatic we all were and how panicked the GOP was? Do you remember this?
Yes, demographic trends do favor the Democrats, and the GOP is in a shambles. The United States is becoming more diverse by the year, in terms of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation/identity, and any number of other factors. And each these trends favor Democrats and the broader Left.
But this was just as true in 2008 as it is now, and we all know what happened next. Instead of moderating its platform (as all the smart Republicans suggested at the time), the GOP swung hard to the right and used the astroturf “Tea Party” movement to win control of the House in 2010. It was an ugly campaign fueled by the white establishment’s resentment of those they viewed as inauthentic Americans looking for handouts.
Or, as Bill O’Reilly said it Tuesday night:
It’s a changing country. It’s not a traditional America anymore, and there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things. And who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it. And he ran on it.
The white establishment is now the minority
Presidential elections are fun and get lots of attention. Midterms, by their very nature are a lot less exciting and therefore have much lower turnout. They’re base-driven campaigns that are won and lost based on who can generate the most excitement among their hardcore supporters and rally them to the polls. Moderates don’t do that, ideologues do.
So yes, I’m very pleased with what happened Tuesday, but 2014 is going to be an important year. The GOP is going run a base (pun intended) campaign filled with sexism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, and god knows what else. Enjoy this while it lasts, but remember to go vote two years from now, as well.
*Jocelyn Burdick served as senator from North Dakota for three months in 1992, being appointed after the death of her husband Sen. Quentin Burdick. She did not seek reelection.