Progressive Victories from Coast to Coast
While re-electing President Obama is obviously very good news for progressives, so much more happened to bring progressive change to communities across America. These victories are further evidence of an emerging progressive majority in this country that will help take us forward as we all fight for change in ways large and small.
Here’s the rundown of some of last night’s winners and losers.
- The Facts: Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan tried to run a post-truth campaign that was fact free, deceptive, and insulting to voters. They paid a heavy price for their false claims about the auto industry in Ohio. Nationally, voters affirmed that facts and a candidate’s policy positions do matter.
- The Middle Class: Voters supported a president who will make the investments in the middle class that we need to create jobs now and grow the economy over the long-term. President Obama will redouble his efforts to create an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few.
- Equality: For the first time in history, voters embraced marriage equality at the ballot box — and not just once. In Maryland, Maine, and Washington state, voters approved marriage equality referenda. In Minnesota, an effort to ban same sex marriage was defeated. Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin is also the first openly gay person elected to the Senate; the person who won the House seat she vacated is also openly gay. Nationally, voters rejected the most anti-immigrant presidential ticket in history. In Maryland, voters approved a state-level version of the DREAM Act.
- Women: In addition to defeating a ticket that threatened women’s health and economic security, a record number of women were voted into office. The Senate will have a record 20 women and the House will have at least 77, also a record.
- Marijuana: Voters in Washington state and Colorado both legalized the recreational use of marijuana, though it remains a federal crime.
- New Hampshire: The state elected progressive champions Anne Kuster and Carol Shea Porter to the House and will be the first state to send an all-female House and Senate delegation to Washington. Democrats also seized control of the New Hampshire House back from the Tea Party extremists who seized control of it in 2010.
- Maine: Democrats wrested control of both the Maine House and Senate back from extreme right-wing Republicans who spent the past two years pursuing attacks on voting and unions, among other things.
- Minnesota: Democrats won back control of both the Minnesota House and Senate. Republicans forced a government shutdown last year because they refused to raise taxes on the wealthy to close a budget gap, even though Minnesota’s wealthy pay a lower tax rate than everyone else in the state. The new majorities should be able to work with Gov. Mark Dayton (D) to create a more progressive budget. Minnesotans also rejected a constitutional amendment that would have instituted Voter ID in the state. It had been expected to pass.
- Michigan: The state’s voters repealed an “Emergency Manager” law that allowed the governor to seize control of cities from their democratically-elected representatives and put an unelected emergency manager with sweeping powers in complete control. The law is most often applied to communities with high minority populations. Voters also rejected a measure that would’ve crippled the state legislature by requiring a 2/3 majority to raise taxes.
- Iowa: Democrats maintained control of the Iowa State Senate, meaning they can continue to stop attacks on marriage equality, women’s health, and unions from the the Republican-controlled House and Gov. Terry Branstad (R). Iowans also rejected the latest effort by anti-gay Christian conservatives to remove a justice from the Iowa Supreme Court merely because he had joined the court’s unanimous decision in favor of marriage equality. Three other justices were successfully removed in 2010.
- Colorado: Democrats seized control of the Colorado State House and will install the first openly gay Speaker of the House. The current Republican Speaker blocked consideration of a civil unions bill even though it had the votes to pass.
- California: Progressive change happened in a big way in one of the nation’s most progressive states. Yesterday, voters:
- Approved a tax increase on households making over $250,000 in order to fund education and help reduce the state’s perpetual budget deficit.
- Reformed the state’s corporate tax code in order to create billions in new revenue for clean energy.
- Modified the state’s “Three Strikes” law so that most non-violent or non-serious third offenses don’t automatically result in a life sentence. A similar initiative failed by almost six points in 2004, while yesterday’s initiative passed by more than 35 points.
- Rejected a right-wing effort to severely limit the political activities of labor unions. Just days before the election, the initiative’s backers revealed that they broke the law by laundering $11 MILLION in contributions through out-of-state groups linked to the Koch Brothers.
- Gave Democrats a supermajority in both the California Assembly and Senate, meaning Democrats can finally overcome the 2/3 vote requirement needed to raise taxes and make California governable and solvent. Republicans have consistently blocked tax increases, forcing governors to put any tax increase before voters.
- Tea Party Extremists: Voters tossed out some of the most extreme voices in the U.S. House, including Joe Walsh, Allen West, and Chip Cravaack. Michele Bachmann very narrowly avoided defeat in her heavily-Republican district.
- GOP Candidates Who Made Offensive Comments About Rape: From Todd Akin to Richard Mourdock to Linda McMahon, all of the Republican candidates who made outrageous comments about rape in recent weeks lost.
- Grover Norquist: Signing the Washington lobbyist’s infamous pledge to never raise taxes became an anchor for many candidates.
- GOP Donors: They donated billions, much of it to Super PACs and secret money groups, in order to defeat President Obama and Democratic Senate candidates. Polluter-backed groups alone dumped $270 MILLION in TV ads during just the final 8 weeks of the election. It didn’t work.
- Our Voting System: Voters across the country faced almost unprecedented obstacles to casting a ballot. Conservatives did nearly anything possible — legal and otherwise — to keep people, particularly young people and minorities, from voting. Early voting was curtailed, onerous photo ID requirements were put in place, voter registration was made more difficult, technical changes meant to disqualify more ballots were implemented, dirty tricks were employed, and the list goes on. The net result was that tens of millions of Americans faced long lines and other hurdles when attempting to exercise one of their most basic rights. Millions more who might otherwise have voted didn’t vote at all.
- Ending Medicare, Slashing Taxes on the Wealthy: By selecting Rep. Paul Ryan (R) as his running mate, Mitt Romney put the GOP plan to end Medicare as we know it in order to slash taxes on the wealthy front and center on the ballot. Voters rejected these plans and the GOP should drop them once and for all.
- The Residents of Michigan’s 11th Congressional District: They elected a man who actually believes he is Santa Claus to represent them in Congress.