What could have been a very bummer election turned out to be pretty awesome. There were a few negatives but the dramatic leftward movement on some key issues caught me totally by surprise.
Before we hit the good stuff let’s get the minor bad things out of the way:
1) California Prop 30 passed which increases the state sales tax and places a higher tax burden on the upper wage earners. This money is supposed to funnel to schools. I’m all for educating the kids but giving more money to the hooligans and cronies that populate the education system is sinful. These extortionists need pink slips, not greenbacks. Fix the dysfunctional system before pouring more money into it.
2) Abolishment of the death penalty failed (Prop 34). A few years ago I wouldn’t have cared about the death penalty but hearing the news about the number of innocent people executed by the state of Texas opened my eyes. Governor Perry faced with overwhelming evidence of innocence; still allow executions to go ahead because he didn’t want to appear soft on crime. His self-image was more important than the life of another human. I can see this happening elsewhere, like California, given the current state of politics. If there is a possibility that an innocent person could pay the ultimate price than the death penalty must be abolished.
Onto the good stuff:
1) President Obama was re-elected. I’m far from happy with the President’s performance but the alternative is unthinkable. In addition, it proves that his initial election was not a fluke and we are making racial progress.
2) After years of defeats in more than 30 states, pro-gay marriage initiatives finally passed in 2012. Same-sex marriage passed in Maryland, Maine and possibly Washington pending a more detailed vote count. Also, Minnesota voted down a ban on gay marriage. Progress!
3) California updated its draconian three strikes law. Now, the three strikes law can only impose a life sentence when the new felony conviction is serious or violent. Prop 36 also allows re-sentencing for previously closed cases along with a few other provisions. It’s socially fair and will save the state a lot of money.
4) Colorado and Washington legalized the recreational use of cannabis. Finally, brave citizens of these two states said “enough” to the conservative agenda that consistently criminalizes human behavior. A plant that’s been used by humanity for 10,000 years was made illegal for dubious reasons approximately forty years ago. How the Federal government attacks CO and WA will be interesting. Big money from the pharmaceutical and prison industries pay politicians to protect their interest so the Fed may crack down hard on the states. The Obama administration has hit states hard on medical marijuana even though he campaigned otherwise in 2008, basically he lied to the younger generation to get their vote. Perhaps now that re-election worries are no longer warranted, he will honor his original commitment.
5) Many younger voters took a liberal stance again in 2012, as they did in 2008. Also, the thirty-somethingers voted for the Democratic candidate for a third straight presidential election. Once a citizen votes two or three consecutive time for the same party, they usually vote that way for the rest of their life. This gives hope to the possibility that a future progressive movement can undo all the damage caused by Republicans over the past thirty years.
6) Women, in huge numbers, voted to re-elect President Obama. This should send a strong message to the Republican Party that their attempts to keep women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen will not work. And certainly the party’s politicians that make statements like “legitimate or justifiable rape” need to be removed from office.
2012, positively progressive!