Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Did Something Happen Yesterday?

It's early here on the prairie.  I know Joe Walsh will be returning to Illinois sadder but certainly not wiser.  Tammy Duckworth will roll onto the House floor in January and the rest of us should walk a little straighter, perhaps.  Down in Florida, Allen West gets yet another less than honorable discharge.  Up in Wisconsin, our badgerly friends did us all proud, electing Tammy Baldwin to the United States Senate.  Out in Massachusetts, Sen. Scott Brown might have a gig doing NBA sportscasting offered because, well, he needs a job now.  Elizabeth Warren managed to snap some folks out of their McDreamy; I don't think it helped that Brown's Cosmo photo shoot had him using only one hand to cover up his privates.

Pot is legal in Washington and Colorado.  Not medical marijuana; Cannabis sativa, in one of its useful forms is being decriminalized from west coast to east.  I do so hope the Department of Justice finds better things to do than go after people who are doing what their state laws allow.

Gay marriage was a big winner.  It won in Maryland.  The President who came out in support of it won.  We have our first openly gay United States Senator (Larry Craig wasn't very open, just wide-stanced).

For all that, the government we elected doesn't look a whole lot different from the government we've had the past two years.  Which means not a whole lot will get done; House Republicans will continue to refuse to do anything with President Obama then turn around and blame him for being obstructionist.  If Harry Reid is smart, he'll do away with supermajorities to get legislation up for a vote.  He should probably do away with the use of Senatorial holds, too, so that people nominated by the President can be confirmed or not.

For all the talk about "throwing the bums out" - and when have we ever really done that? - we managed to stay remarkably the same, overall.  This was, in many ways, a status quo election.  I don't expect great things from a second Obama term, but I do expect fewer bad things than would have emerged from a Romney Administration.  As I was told over and over again, that's called realism.

Yet, President Obama did so some really good stuff.  Signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act.  Repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell.  He stopped defending DOMA in the courts.  The Affordable Care Act has already provided health insurance for millions of Americans who didn't have it, or even have access to it.  These are things most folks should be able to concede are worthy of celebrating.  And, obviously, worthy of a second term.

So, some important, incremental changes while the larger picture looks the same as it has for the previous four years.  I do think Charlie Pierce's encomium rings true on several levels, even while I think that, while another battle is won, the longer war in which we make America look like the place we want it to be goes on.  That, I suppose, is to be expected.  It is also a good thing.  We shouldn't get so comfortable in our national skin we forget that being America is, as Pres. Obama reminds us, hard work, a project that is on-going.

At the end of  a very long day, and even longer, more tiring election season, it's nice to see that we continue to believe it's better to work together and argue together and disagree together than it is to turn our backs on our common life and struggle for the main chance.  There's enough of that already.  That we re-elected our first African-American as President, that's no small achievement in a land where our collective demon, racism, still keeps its claws deep.  It is something we should celebrate about ourselves, regardless of ideology or party.

Virtual Tin Cup

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