A Few Final Thoughts on the Election

For those of you who hate politics, I promise this will be my last political post for a while. But several interesting things happened this week that deserve mention.

A Good Day for Gay Rights

Four states voted on proposals related to gay rights, and all four supported equality. Voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington State all approved same-sex marriage. Voters in Minnesota voted down a constitutional amendment that would have explicitly banned same-sex marriage. Gay marriage has appeared on ballots many times before across the country and lost every time until yesterday. Bravo to those states who approved equal treatment for all regardless of whom they love.

In related news, the voters of Wisconsin elected Tammy Baldwin as the first openly gay U.S. Senator. According to the article, the campaign focused on political issues rather than Baldwin’s sexual orientation, which is exactly how it should be. Congratulations, Senator Baldwin.

Obama’s Second Term

Although I voted for Stein knowing she wouldn’t win, I was hoping Obama would win rather than Romney. While I am pleased with the outcome, this is no time to gloat. I disagreed with many of his positions, but Romney seems like a good man who cares about our nation and would have worked hard to make things better.

More importantly, Washington is still broken and paralyzed by partisan bickering. We have serious problems and need serious solutions. Both Obama and the mostly-unchanged Congress have a huge amount of work to do, and most of it will be arduous. Obama and the top leaders in Congress have all committed to work together and listen to each other’s ideas to get some things done, the big thing being avoidance of the fiscal cliff. Obama even said he wants to get input from Romney. I want to believe them. Compromise is the only way to solve the problems we face. But I will remain a skeptic until I see some real progress. Best wishes to all involved on both sides of the aisle.

The Makeup of Our Nation is Changing

During the election coverage Tuesday night and in reading the analysis before and after, I was fascinated by all the data being hurled at me. USA Today compiled a great breakdown of the results by a variety of demographic divisions. A few things stood out, many of which do not bode well for the Republicans unless they change their approach and platform significantly:

  1. Rural and small-town voters tend to vote Republican, even in swing states and some largely Democratic states. Except in heavily Republican states, urban voters tend vote Democratic. Virginia was a great example. On the map, the vast majority of counties went red, but there were so many blue voters concentrated in the big cities that the state went to Obama.
  2. Whites, rural people, older people, rich people, evangelicals, and men lean Republican. Pretty much everyone else leans Democratic, including nonwhites, gay people, gay sympathizers, city dwellers, middle- and lower-class people, people of no faith, Catholics, mainline Christians, women, and younger people.

I say these tendencies are bad news for Republicans because the demographics of our nation are shifting in favor of the Democrats. The percentage of whites is dropping as the minority population is rising, particularly the Latino population. People continue to move from rural areas to larger cities. Gay acceptance is rising. Evangelicals are losing people to the “spiritual but not religious” movement, and some believe they are already losing influence. If our young people continue to lean Democratic once they reach voting age, the general population will skew bluer over time. Obviously, not all of these trends apply here in deep-red Texas right now, but our Latino population is growing rapidly, which could end Republican dominance here.

Mixed Reactions

Regarding the presidential race, about half the country is happy, the other half sad. I saw a few jubilant posts on Facebook. I also heard one guy at work say we were in for “four more years of Islamic communism”. I have hidden or unfriended most of my politically obnoxious Facebook friends, but I still saw some negative comments right after Obama was declared the winner. Interestingly, the Romney supporters I know probably voted mostly for Republicans, which means most of their candidates were victorious. Yet some of them are devastated, even “physically ill” according to one friend, over the one race at the top of the ballot that they lost, as if a Romney victory would solve all our problems. It makes me even more convinced that many people, even some of the ones who get really worked up about politics, don’t really understand how our government works.

As for me, I voted for a mix of Greens and Dems, not a good combination here in Texas. Every single one of them lost. Sure, I disagree on many issues with Senator-Elect Ted Cruz and Congressman Kenny Marchant, but I’m not freaking out because they won, either. As I wrote earlier this week, life will go on regardless of who won.

There is one thing all of us can do whether our candidates won or lost on Tuesday: when appropriate, contact them regarding our views on an issue we care about. For now, that’s about the most we can do to influence them. Contacting your representatives or the President is easy. No, they can’t read every message they receive, but their staffers capture and track the general sentiment of all the messages to know how their constituents feel. If you aren’t happy about who won, contact him or her and speak up. It’s more effective than whining on Facebook or complaining to the people around you.

Thanks to all of you who voted, regardless of whom you chose.