Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Postscript on Proposition 8

It was midday today, Wednesday, before The New York Times, via the AP, was able to analyze the demographics behind the success of the most expensive ballot issue in American history that didn't deal with the oil and gas industry:

Exit polls for The Associated Press found that Proposition 8 received critical support from black voters who flocked to the polls to support Barack Obama for president. About seven in 10 blacks voted in favor of the ban, while Latinos also supported it and whites were split.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thoughts on the aftermath of victory

As some pundits have said, perhaps November 4, 2008, marks the true beginning of the 21st Century. The American voters have taken the "whites only" sign off the desk in the Oval Office. We have done what no other Western nation has done--elect to the highest office in the land a man of color. Under different circumstances, we could have had the first women to occupy a power position within the White House. I am more proud of my country now than I have been in forty-eight years.

Yet, with the likely passage of Referendum 8 in California, a measure that will, perhaps for the first time in American history, take away a constitutional right from an entire class of citizens, we must face the fact that, at least for gay men and lesbians, the American Dream is still in black-and-white, not color. Arizona, likewise, voted to deny marriage equality to its gay citizens. No state has yet failed to discriminate against gay men and lesbians when given an opportunity to vote straight up-or-down on the issue. I guess you could say that those of us who love a person of the same sex have yet to "win" a single electoral vote, let alone a majority. Furthermore, with no chance that our percentage of the electorate will ever exceed the current 5-6%, the picture is unlikely to change unless straight voters have a change of heart.

There is a stark irony in the fact that African-American voters, the very ones who were most vindicated in this election, are the same demographic that votes most one-sidedly against gay rights. The same voters who put Obama in office are probably responsible for the abrogation of equal rights in California.

So, I do have mixed feelings about today's events. More than most, I see the light but at the end of a longer tunnel. I have a little less reason to hope for change, slightly less belief that true change--change that could impact my personal happiness and prosperity significantly--will happen in my lifetime. If I could make one request of the president-elect tonight, it would be this: I voted for you. I was thrilled that you said the words "gay and lesbian" in your speech tonight. Will you work tirelessly to see that, before your first term ends, I have the same rights under federal law that you do?

Election day dots

Here are my random thoughts on this election day, 2008--

It doesn't take a Ph.D. in punditry to understand that this will be a watershed election. The choices are so stark as to shock the imagination:

The first-ever African-American candidate for president

The first-ever woman candidate for vice-president

Youthful exuberance vs. wizened experience

Liberal vs. "maverick" conservative

Hope vs. fear

Statesmanship vs. vituperation

American prestige and worldwide respect restored vs. continued suspicion and contempt

US leadership on worldwide economic recovery vs. fumbling ineptness and indecision

US leadership on addressing the root causes of global warming vs. drill, baby, drill

Rebuilding American infrastructure vs. another four years and $600B squandered in Iraq

More freedom for more people vs. ongoing discrimination against gay men and lesbians

Competency and vision vs. incompetency and political expediency

Civility vs. fear-mongering

Statesmanship vs. demagoguery

Team depth vs. Ohmigod, SHE's commander-in-chief!

The issues are so clear-cut that I have serious trouble understanding how anyone could be undecided right up to the day of the election. (Polls indicate that perhaps 5% of voters still fall into this category.) I suspect that they know how they will vote, they just don't want to say. My guess is that 75% of them will vote for McCain.

It's this simple, if Obama wins, things will get better. If McCain wins, they will get worse.

McCain has no idea how to win in Iraq other than by keeping the troops there indefinitely. McCain has no new ideas on how to cure the economy. He says the economy is in the ditch but he helped to put it there, voting with George W. Bush's economic game plan every time.

McCain's theme of "Country First", while helping him connect with his base--which seems to have been the primary focus of his campaign, will not help to mend relations with Europe or Asia, let alone the Arab world.

McCain's willingness to listen to the admonitions of Karl Rove's proteges to take the low road--eschewing discussion of the issues in favor of personal attacks upon his opponent--during his campaign, will assure that the heavily Democratic Congress will have little inclination to cooperate with his legislative agenda. This would mean four years of likely deadlock, which would be disastrous for the country and the world. We've had quite enough of rule via executive orders, signing statements, and vetoes.

The plight of the shrinking middle class will continue. Good-paying jobs will continue to migrate oversees while ever-cheapening labor here in America will assure a growing supply of Mexican workers eager for the relative riches here, while native-born poor will continue their slide into despair. Health care will, even more so, be the sole province of the upper middle and elite classes.

With a Supreme Court packed with clones of Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Roberts--assuming a President McCain can get his nominees confirmed in the Senate--women's power over their own bodies will be a thing of the past, consumers will find it nearly impossible to find compensation for their injuries in the US courts, and the notion that "all men are created equal" will become "you will get what we say you deserve".

In short, America's reputation for being a haven of individual liberty, equality for all, and the iron fist in the velvet glove in foreign affairs will be in danger of being lost forever. The political gutter-sniping that will have given McCain victory will become standard fare for decades to come. Soon, America will be but a shadow of it's greatest days and the world will curse our name as the chaos that is sure to come from global warming sweeps across our only planet home.

My prediction? Obama will win with close to 300 electoral votes and 52% of the popular vote. The joyful noise on the morrow will be heard around the world.