2012. Election night.
Fifty years after the rioting that surrounded the forced integration, with student James Meredith at the University of Mississippi, about 400 students demonstrated on the Ole Miss campus to protest President Obama’s reelection; the political slogans and chants, mixed with racist statements and profanity, sadly reminded me how much further we need to travel.
2012. Election night. Yes, we can. Yes, we did. Four more years!
The wisdom of our founding fathers was vindicated by this historic election that repudiated the narrow definition of America as a bastion of white privilege and entitlement and expressed the people’s desire to celebrate a diverse nation of inclusion and opportunity.
Ascendant America. Diverse. Live with it, together. Celebrate!
An ascendant America: despite Mitt Romney’s blindness toward African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, Muslims and women, all of whom voted for Obama in overwhelming numbers, a majority of Americans embraced this new vision of America.
Schadenfreude: it’s tempting. I have to admit my first instinct this week was to write a gloating column that would rub salt into the wounds of those who supported Romney: it’s hard not to do. Forgive me if I offend.
But I knew it wasn’t their fault that Romney had run an unbelievably incompetent campaign, detached from the reality of America, 2012. That Romney had run a campaign based on assertions that thoughtful citizens rejected; that he had run a campaign that failed to recognize today’s cultural, social and political realities.
While it is their fault that they never did due diligence either about their candidate or about what he was offering America, I knew it wasn’t their fault that Romney ran a campaign that tried to divide America rather than unite it. However, more is at stake than who won and lost. America needs a viable two-party system and I don’t want the Republican Party to be swallowed up by the excesses of its right-wing. My concerns should be Republican concerns.
Today, celebrate that truth prevailed.
Today, celebrate five women: Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan, senators Shaheen and Ayotte, and representatives-elect Shea-Porter and Kuster. What a great moment both for the Granite State and the nation. Today, celebrate that in January there will be 20 U.S. senators with wombs.
Celebrate that Wisconsin is sending a gay woman, Tammy Baldwin, to the Senate, and that three states endorsed marriage rights for all Americans. Celebrate the wisdom of the voters who defeated the misogynists, science deniers and Islamophobes and sent them back into their caves.
Schadenfreude: I celebrate the irrelevancy of Sheldon Adelson, who thought he could manipulate American foreign policy through his support of Romney’s candidacy. I revel in the shame and mocking of Fox News, Dick Morris, Karl Rove, George Will, Ann Coulter and others: they who continue to live in a fog of disbelief and denial and who want to blame Sandy and Christie for Romney’s loss rather than acknowledge their own ideological narrowness.
I do want to celebrate Doug Preisse, an Ohio Republican Party County Chairman who said in an e-mail, “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American —voter-turnout machine.”
Tuesday in Ohio black voters got mad and voted, accounting for 15 percent of the vote, up from 2008’s 11 percent. Obama wins Ohio: Thank you, Doug Preisse!
Our United States, with its history of disenfranchisement of blacks and minorities, re-elected a black president. When officials tried to suppress participation, voters got angry and participated in unexpected numbers.
Celebrate, then, that more African-Americans voted in Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia than in 2008, that Romney got just over 2 million fewer votes than Sen. John McCain got in 2008 — 2 million who perhaps rejected the politics of division.
From the ungraciousness of loser Ovide Lamontagne’s concession speech to Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan to the letter writers who think this was a election about “giving voters more ‘free stuff'”— get over it.
Obama’s victory was an acknowledgement that the promise of America should be extended to all its citizens.
Celebrate with me the irrelevancy of Bill O’Reilly, who said, “Obama wins because it’s not a traditional America anymore. The white establishment is the minority. People want things.”
Yes, Bill O’Reilly, people want things. They want fairness. They want to be able to exercise their franchise without jumping through hoops. They want Obamacare. They want a tax system that is equitable and a financial system not manipulated by the very people it is meant to regulate. They want to be judged not by the color of their skin but by their character and abilities.
To me, this election victory is greater than the last, because not only was the choice clear, but also because Americans, in both electoral and popular votes, clearly embraced the path they wish to follow.
Honor the choice.
On Election Day, Americans knew what was on the table: higher taxes for the rich and the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act — and they voted for Obama. They knew the future ideological balance of the Supreme Court might be at stake, and they voted for Obama. They sent a message that their president, the black man with the foreign middle name who ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden and who has crippled Iran with sanctions, was the man they trusted to be America’s guardian, and they voted for him.
Honor the choice.
The battle is not over, but I think America exorcised some of its demons Tuesday night. The tea party excesses have been repudiated.
Honor the repudiation. Resurrect in their place a Republican Party that will stand in opposition to the Democrats on a platform of inclusiveness and hope — a philosophical platform free of resentment that will honor the reality of a diverse America. Let us together reject any attempt to divide Americans along ideological lines.
Today, Democrats and Republicans, progressives and tea partiers, celebrate with me the wisdom gleaned from the prophets and the courage of the activists, of Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad, of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Thomas Paine, of Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez and Lily Ledbetter.
Celebrate with me the promise of America.
This column appeared originally in the Portsmouth Herald.