It is the morning after the election. I am sipping coffee as I sort through the headlines. Our friends on the blog have had a spirited debate on the merits of voting verses direct social action. My own position is that we must do both. Several things happened last night that bear out the importance of keeping one foot in the process even as we keep one foot out. Here are 5 good things that happened last night in no particular order. Feel free to add to my list drawn off the top of my head.
1. The tide is turning for GLBT citizens. Maine and Maryland passed marriage equality laws. America elected its first openly gay senator.
2. More young people voted in this election than in 2008. That has to be a good sign for our future.
3. Energy issues figured prominently in this election. Big oil, gas and coal pumped money into this campaign. Romney ran on a campaign more drilling and coal mining and fewer pollution laws. It didn’t work.
Last month, for instance, Hart Research Associates found that nine out of 10 Americans, say developing renewable energy should be a priority for the president and Congress, and that includes 85 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Independents. A survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that 80 percent of car owners want to raise fuel efficiency standards to 55 miles per gallon by 2025. -Huffington Post
4. Women’s issues are moving front and center. This election produced an 18 point gender gap. Todd Akin, who led through most of his campaign, lost major support after a dismissive comment on rape. And there is a bright new star in our political sky named Elizabeth Warren
5. Mainstream Republicans are beginning to break ranks with extremists within their party. Flair ups during the campaign are not a bad sign for the grand old party. Instead they are repudiation of the Karl Rove thug strategy that has attempted to purge the party of moderates, and has left the party with many candidates who could not pass a basic mental health exam. The willingness of mainstream Republicans to lose this campaign rather than support tea party extremists was an act of patriotism that should be appreciated by us all.
So, elections do matter. But now, the morning after, is when the real political work of a citizen begins. Now, and for the next four years, we have a duty to work in grass roots movements that represent the people and causes that aren’t on the agenda of either of the two major parties. We need to work to disentangle government from big money, to move renewable energy to center stage, to develop other political parties to break the binary thinking of two party politics. And, as always, we need to advocate for the wretched of the earth over and against big corporations and the American military industrial complex.
Some great things happened last now, but now it’s time to get to work.