Waking up to a more progressive America?

America, you beauty!

Not only did you re-elect your African-American “Islamic Socialist” gay-marriage supporting president, you also: elected more women to the senate than ever before (still highly underrepresented at just 18 senators), elected the first ever all-woman state delegation in New Hampshire, shut down the GOP’s senate rape caucus and several of the most virulent tea party leaders, voted in gay marriage in 3 states (making it 9 in total), legalized marijuana in 2 states, and in California, weakened three-strikes law, and voted to raise taxes for education!! All in the middle of an economic depression and in an election where the white oligarchy poured billions of dollars against all of these causes. Could it be that this election has actually been a bigger win for progressives than we had dared hope? Bigger surely than the last time around? Well done!

And my progressive friends: time to really get to work now, harder this time, to hold the President’s feet to the fire on the environment, human rights, Guantanamo, drone wars, foreign policy, and everything else he promised but failed to deliver the first time around. Drop your despair over his failures – recognize that he had the most intransigent and well funded opposition ever faced by any American president – and recognize the big progressive space he seems to have actually opened up in American politics. He galvanized all the racist, misogynist, regressive political forces of the white oligarchy into a frenzy that had us all scared: and beat them handily despite all his apparent failures (in the eyes of the right and the left) in his first term! Yes, I know he is beholden to some elements of the oligarchy too, but this election also shows that money, even unlimited corporate money, cannot buy votes, not yet in this country. Yes, the country is still sharply polarized, but he spoke about the need to change the electoral system to make it more inclusive. Yes he has failed on many environmental issues, but he broke the deafening climate silence last night in his victory speech, and spoke to a recently storm-battered nation that may actually believe in the reality of the threats from climate change now, about wanting our children to live in a world without the destructive power of global warming.

Perhaps I am being delusionally optimistic (optimism is a character flaw I gladly embrace), but this morning I feel that this election is a bigger win (or series of wins) for progressives in America than the last one when Obama was voted in on that wave of hope-and-change. Now lets make sure this country doesn’t slide back.

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