I often complain that the media treat all of politics as a horse race. Despite that, looking back at Tuesday night, it's clear to me that there were some winners and losers throughout the country, and I'm not talking about the candidates.
Rape lost. Big time. All of the candidates who were noted for making imprudent or just plain crazy comments on rape lost. In Wisconsin Roger "some girls rape so easy" Rivard lost. in Indiana Richard "pregnancy from rape is something God intended" Mourdock lost. And Todd Akin learned that making "legitimate" offensive comments about rape "has a way of shutting the whole thing down". So - can we all finally agree that all rape is a terrible thing and that there are not degrees or types?
Bigotry lost. Not to say that it's gone, but it's thrown for a loop, as happens every so often in our history. The first black president was re-elected. Wisconsin elected two openly gay people to major offices. Gay people will be able to marry in Maine, Delaware, and Washington. There will be a record number of women in the U.S. Senate. But oh, the things we had to put up with to get there. Disgusting campaign buttons. Cretinous comments on web sites (and I'm pretty sure they're not going to stop now). Terms I'd never heard for gay women being bandied about on Twitter like the world is some sort of straight boys' club, and we're all in the locker room. Bigotry may have lost at the polls, but a dark side of America was revealed that really ought to frighten us all, no matter what color we are or who we love. So - I'd say this one was won, but by a nose. And there's a new race every day. I can only hope that some day we will not as a country keep placing bets on this one.
Civil Rights lost. I'm incredibly grateful that President Obama won last night. The alternative was disturbing, and next to impossible to read. But let's face it, despite the great things that President Obama has accomplished, we still live with drones poised to kill whoever comes up on the kill list, a deteriorating position for organized labor, a still-murky election system, NDAA and indefinite detention, and a lot more. So - I'm grateful for the outcome, but we all need to work for more change. A lot more change.
Money and Oil lost. Or at least it lost the skirmish. Despite huge amounts of money being poured in to campaigns from dark money sources, the President won, Tammy Baldwin won, and life goes on with a little more lilt to it. However, the ward is just firing up, and I'm afraid things willl just get worse. Without meaningful campaign reform we can look forward to continuing escalations of the attack ads, nonsensical statements, and constant phone calls begging for money to support our candidates. This is nuts. It has to stop.
Wisconsin lost. Sadly the Republicans have taken back total control of the legislature. That along with a Republican Governor means that the juggernaut of regressive policies is likely to continue. Wait for that mining bill to roar back to life, and for attacks on the environment, labor, health care, and more to proceed apace. Irresponsible sand mining and other industries cannot help but be encouraged by a continuation of the hand's off legislature. It's time to hold your legislators' feet to the fire. Constantly.
Voter Suppression lost. At least on a national level. Even with the massive attempts by the Republican party and ALEC to suppress minority voting through legislation, intimidation, and any other means possible, enough minority voters got to the polls to elect Obama and others. If you don't believe it was women and minorities who kept the president in office, you've not been paying attention to the results. White men would have overwhelmingly put in Mitt Romney. The end result has been a litany of whining from the conservative media and pundits that the country is being lost to "brown people." This was not news to the rest of us, and most of us didn't think this was necessarily a bad thing, just something that is happening. The fast demographic shift of the country to a world where the non-white voter pool is growing quickly is just a fact of life. If the Republicans continue to fight it rather than embrace it, they will soon not be able to win any races.
The Planet lost. Again Practically no mention of climate change on any front from any candidate. How can we continue to fight over miserable little issues and political ideologies and ignore the now-obvious changes happening to the earth. There won't be a whole lot of opportunity for "job creation" if we are continuing to have weather-related disasters on a regular basis and having trouble growing food.
Women won. 20 women are going to the senate, includint Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warren in two very hard-won battles. If rape loses (see above) women win. If health care wins (see below) women win. Now if only some of the jugheads in the world would understand that when women win, men don't lose. It's really not a zero-sum game. And happily, women winning means, on a more personal note, that my wife and daughters win, so it's personal.
Health Care Wins. Or at least, I think so. An Obama win makes it less likely that Congress will gut the ACA. I suspect, however, that the sting of this will make certain congresscritters double down on crippling it in any way they can. Expect to see a lot of skirmishes over funding and implementation. Perhaps our Governor can now either be willing to do something about the health care exchanges, or at least let the Feds do their job and implement it for us. It would have been nice if the people in the state had been able to have some input, but this is what happens when you elect people to govern who hate governance. They dig their heels in any time a useful decision needs to be made. We have to live with the consequences.
Gerrymandering wins. In particular in some of the races in this part of the state, it's pretty clear that the re-organizing of the districts by the Republican legislature has made it difficult for Democrats to win seats being held by incumbent Republicans. I'm thinking in particular of the difficulties faced by Pat Kreitlow, Jeff Smith, and Jim Swanson, all of whom ran very strong races, and all of whom lost.
There were many other winners and losers, and of course, life is like that. Our job in the coming years is to continue to push to have the people of Wisconsin and the United States win. That should be what we're all working for. Forward.