We have done it again! We've held an election without violence, and the re-authorization of government has occurred without force. God bless America.
Whatever your take on the outcome on Tuesday (I am overjoyed!), now is the time for all citizens to look calmly at the road ahead. There's lots to be done.
President Obama won both the electoral college and the popular vote by substantial margins. Democrats gained seats in both houses of Congress. The American public has clearly spoken about the direction they want to go, but in a conversation with so many topics, the 'answer' is still complex.
From time to time, I listen to the pundits from 'the other side.' In the two days before the election, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, and others were predicting a landslide for Romney. Some of my friends listen to those voices, and were shocked with the outcome of the election, when they need not have been, because there was accurate information out there, from credible sources.
I don't expect the weight of 'other people's opinions' to change anyone's opinion (except maybe 8-yr-old kids concerned about popularity at school). But in order to form an opinion and choose an effective direction, in order to even understand what there is going on that becomes an issue, a person must see the landscape clearly and understand a bit about how the water runs.
As most folks aren't able to devote the time to become students of politics, folks who are not constant observers must seek out trustworthy watchers as sources. At some point, when sources differ, a listener will have to make a choice: whose observations are reliable? Volume alone will not tell. Then, in a point-of-time event like an election, the world declares who was observing more accurately.
The right-wing punditry seems to have been either poorly informed, or not very observant, and their lack of reliability led those who depended on them astray. Before a pundit can declare 'all Americans believe . . .' or before anyone can analyze and explain a situation, a person must know accurately what the situation is and what the others are thinking. In this case, Ideology trumped observation. Romney supporters who expected a win need to find new observers, or a way to get the old ones to clean their lenses. While Rove and others are still trying to spin their misjudgments, former Rep. Newt Gingrich had the good grace to say today, "I was wrong."
So beyond the election of President Obama, what did we see? Citizens stepping forward to pay the bills (California), citizens voting for more toleration and beginning to give up on prohibition, one out of three of the newly elected being women, an endorsement of universal medical care by most with several states stepping back to let the feds do it, tinkering with local taxation in various ways, most but not all of the brashest speakers (Akin, Mourdock, West, Brown, Walsh) being replaced with more moderate voices, the likelihood of a less aggressive foreign posture, the importance of youth and minority participation, the desire for reformed immigration policy, a demand that the numbers add up and that our leaders say the same thing from one audience to the next.
Also, any observer saw the long lines and the complicated ballots which did nothing but make the voters' task more difficult. I am freshly appreciative of the conveniences of Washington's and Oregon's decisions to move to the mail-in ballot. And we saw the repeated questionable voter purges that removed grannies who had voted for fifty years and veterans who had just returned from combat zones from the voter rolls -- a tactic designed not to win the campaign by the strength of one's ideas, but by the subterfuge of denying others the right to vote. (It is, in fact, an admission by behavior that they don't have the ideas that will be chosen by the majority.) So one task before us all, D, R, or I, is to improve consistent and fair access to the ballot box. (While we're doing that, we need to tuck away for the next census period, the issue of flagrant gerrymandering -- Pennsylvania and Ohio being among the most outrageous, but the practice is endemic.)
And congratulations to the students of Wenatchee High School, whose mock election last week correctly predicted the national outcome.