7 Big Lessons from Obama's Win
Continued from previous page
A few short years ago it was considered unthinkable for politicians to support civil unions for gay Americans. But this year’s ballot initiatives on marriage equality and marijuana may have hurt Republicans, as all Americans – among them young people of all political views, including young evangelicals – are becoming markedly more liberal on social issues, as marriage equality initiatives won in Maine and Maryland.
In a victory for free choice, Florida’s attempt to ban the use of public funds for abortion failed. At this rate some conservative will soon write book about Democratic victories in the Deep South called What’s the Matter With Mississippi? (Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?)
4. Harry Reid! Good ol’ Harry Reid! He’s got a mandate.
This election was a great victory for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Reid strengthened that majority, despite being forced to defend more seats than the Republicans, and he did it with candidates who tended to be strongly progressive.
Warren won in Massachusetts, as did Sherrod Brown in Ohio both. Tim Kaine pulled out a win in Virginia, in part by decisively rejecting the “centrist” agenda of the austerity-minded Simpson Bowles proposal. Meanwhile a candidate who did embrace the “centrist” agenda, Bob Kerrey, was defeated in Nebraska.
As Majority Leader, Harry Reid now has a clear mandate to fight for populist causes and resist the radical-right agenda of Congressional Republicans. Reid has made it clear that he opposes any cuts to Social Security benefits. With Senators like Tim Kaine, Elizabeth Warren, and Sherrod Brown by his side, he has the moral and political capital to defend them.
Reid also has a mandate to reform the Senate’s procedural rules, which minority Republicans have repeatedly abused in order to thwart the will of the American majority. Newly-elected Maine Senator Angus King, who is a relatively conservative Independent, campaigned on a platform of filibuster reform. Harry Reid alsohas the political capital to reform the Senate.
Harry Reid. He’s not loud or pushy, but he last night he got it done. (Update – When it comes to Social Security, Harry’s already on it. Like we were saying: Good ol’ Harry Reid.)
5. “Socialism” sells
In today’s political rhetoric, the word “socialism” is used to describe policies that were universally accepted by politicians across the political spectrum. Here’s one example: The Republican Party platform of 1956 boasted that millions had been added to Social Security’s rolls, and to the membership of America’s unions, during Dwight D. Eisenhower’s first term. Eisenhower built the Federal highway system. President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency and proposed a universal guaranteed income for all Americans.
From Roosevelt to Reagan, the ideas now labeled as “socialist” were universal American values.
Those values won again last night. President Obama’s victory in Ohio would not have been possible if he hadn’t taken the most “socialistic” action of his Presidency by taking over the auto companies in order to rescue them. He saved millions of jobs – and turned a profit for the country, too.
And while Florida hasn’t been called as of this writing, it’s in play because the President strengthened Medicare,while his opponents tried to destroy it with their voucher proposal, and because Republicans attacked Social Security with a privatization scheme.
6. Unions and progressives matter.
Unions turned out for the President, providing invaluable help in key states like Ohio. Progressive organizations and individuals contributed their time, money, energy, and ideas. That helps explain progressive victories around the country, as well as the President’s national win.