Progressives and Democrats had a really great Election Day yesterday, re-electing President Obama, winning a larger and more progressive Senate majority, defeating a number of Tea Party Republican House members, and advancing the cause of marriage equality, among other victories. And we did all of this in the face of hundreds of millions of dollars of spending by shadowy conservative groups aided by a media that ranges from mindless pox-on-both-houses coverage to conservative apologists. In short, we have much to celebrate.
Over the next two years, we will be faced with many critical issues and policies to debate, long difficult fights to advance the progressive cause, and setbacks and disappointments. But part of being able to win those debates and fights, and to get through the inevitable disappointments, is to celebrate our successes, which is something we progressives tend not to do very well. Instead, we’re often so focused on identifying problems and working to fix them, we do not take the time to savor our victories. Winning Progressive urges us all to temporarily resist the urge to dive right back into the next fight and, instead, take a day or two to celebrate what we have achieved in this election.
Here are just some of the victories we should be celebrating:
President Obama Re-Elected – The biggest prize yesterday, of course, was President Obama’s re-election. As of this writing, President Obama had won at least 303 electoral votes, including every swing state except North Carolina. If Florida is won by the President, currently looking likely, he would end up with a 335 vote electoral victory. And as of 3:30am eastern time, the New York Times was reporting an approximately 1.8 million popular vote advantage for the President, with the bulk of votes remaining to be counted in Democratic states such as California, Washington, and Oregon. While Obama’s margins are smaller than they were in 2008, yesterday’s victory is still a strong endorsement of Obama’s first term and his sensible, moderately progressive governance.
A Larger, More Progressive Senate Majority – As WP explained in early October, this election presented an opportunity to gain a more progressive Senate with the election of Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), along with the re-election of Sherrod Brown in Ohio. All five of those candidates won! And despite having 21 seats to defend, Democrats have so far lost only one Senate seat (in Nebraska), though seats in Montana and North Dakota are still to be decided. If we win those two seats, we will end up with a 55 vote majority. And another step towards full equality was taken with the election of the first openly lesbian U.S. Senator in our nation’s history – Tammy Baldwin.
First Electoral Victories for Marriage Equality – With our nation making steady progress towards full LGBT equality, one of the few arguments anti-equality activists have had to fall back on is that marriage equality had never prevailed in a popular vote. That claim can no longer be made, as marriage equality has now prevailed at the ballot box in Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota, and appears likely to win in Washington State.
Leading House Tea Partiers Defeated – One disappointing area yesterday was in House elections, where Democrats picked up little ground. But even there, we won some victories. Most significantly, a number of Tea Party members – including Allen West (FL), Chip Cravaack (MN), Bobby Schilling (IL), Roscoe Bartlett (MD), Ann-Marie Buerkle (NY), Francisco Canseco (TX), and Joe Walsh (IL) – were defeated, while the race against Michelle Bachmann is still too close to call as of 3:00am Wednesday morning. Illinois’ 10th Congressional District, which was held by now-U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) for many years, is finally back in Democratic hands with Brad Schneider’s victory. And with both House seats in New Hampshire being won by Democrats, there is not a single Republican member of the House in all six New England states.