Reasons to Be Cheerful (Part 2)We didn't have much time to celebrate before that stupid sordid sex scandal sucked the oxygen out of the room. Wingnut Captains of Industry with delusions of grandeur are trying to sabotage the economy. Republicans in Congress are still going to obstruct everything, and are already laying the groundwork for impeachment (and even the Gaza cease fire, cause for genuine happiness, is an excuse for them to attack the President).
But today is Thanksgiving, so today I'll focus on what we can be thankful for.
And there's a lot:
- The old spells didn't work this time. For decades, Republicans held a (mostly) winning hand: social wedge issues; race-baiting (the Southern Strategy); and a perception that they were "strong" (and Democrats "weak") on defense. They played them all this time, and they lost.
Introducing dozens of anti-abortion bills in Congress may have brought out the crazy Jeebus vote, but it also motivated people who value choice. Attacking access to contraceptives may have seemed like a canny play for Catholic voters, but it underscored how extreme and out of step the Republicans really are. The wedge was on the wrong side for them.
Coded appeals to white resentment from the Romney campaign (their welfare ad) and surrogates (Sununu, Trump, etc.) didn't work either--partly because Mr. Let Detroit Die didn't have a lot of credibility with working-class white people in Ohio, but mostly because the electorate just wasn't as white as it used to be. Again, when your strategy is division, you need to make sure you're on the wrong side of the divide.
When Benghazi happened they thought it was 1980 and the President was Jimmy Carter, and this was the moment of hopeless weakness that would make the country turn to a Big Strong Daddy like...um, Willard Romney. But it isn't 1980. Whatever you think of his national security policies (I have mixed feelings), President Obama has at least temporarily erased the (always unfair) image of Democrats as weak and incompetent on foreign policy.
- We made huge steps toward equality. After 32 defeats, one win for marriage equality would have been worth celebrating. We got 3 1/2 (the Minnesota vote didn't advance the state, but kept it from going backwards). We also got our first openly gay Senator. And the first President ever to endorse marriage equality--it didn't hurt him at all, and probably helped.
- Voter suppression backfired spectacularly. It turns out that fear of losing one's vote is a powerful motivation to get out and exercise it.
- Big money didn't win. They poured billions of dollars into defeating the President (and every down-ballot Democrat) and it didn't work. That's a hell of a return on investment for supposedly savvy businessmen like the Kochs and Adelson. In part, this was because outside money is inherently inefficient: they couldn't coordinate on the ground game, and they were paying higher media rates than the campaign itself. But the main reason, I think, is that we finally reached a point of diminishing returns for campaign spending.
That's my list. What are you all thankful for?
Update: Amanda Marcotte has a great piece on why feminists have reason to be thankful.