The Morning After

Photo of Barack and Michelle Obama embracing

Fighting a major post-election hang-over after a long night out celebrating good news. And there is so much good news! Obama won, earlier in the night than expected. Elizabeth Warren beat Scott Brown in a close race in Massachusetts, and Tim Kaine also beat George Allen in Virginia. And those Republican rape comments really bit them in the ass, with Richard “rape pregnancies are God’s will” Mourdock losing to Democrat Joe Donnelly in Indiana — an outcome that seemed extremely unlikely even a few days ago. Todd “legitimate rape” Akin also legitimately lost to Claire McCaskill in Missouri. And Wisconsin elected Tammy Baldwin, who will be America’s first out lesbian Senator.

What’s really incredible is that Democrats held off big-money Republican challengers and gained several Senate seats in a post-Citizens United election. Citizens United, for those who haven’t been paying attention or don’t live in the United States, was a recent Supreme Court case that gutted campaign finance laws, basically allowing unfettered spending on political campaigns in the name of free speech (I am simplifying the case greatly, but that’s the one-line summary). With deep ties to Wall Street and big business, and with a staunchly pro-business candidate on the presidential ticket, the Republican party saw their campaign coffers swell. The Romney campaign alone spent hundreds of millions of dollars, much of that from individual billionaires who donated up to $10 million apiece and from Super PACs who raised enormous sums from corporate and individual donors. Senate and House candidates on the GOP ticket were similarly flush, especially in key states like Massachusetts, Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin and Connecticut. Obama also raised a good amount of money, but not nearly as much as Romney, and the Dems didn’t benefit from Citizens United the way the Republicans did. But they still hung on to their Senate seats and even gained a few. That’s a big victory.

It was also a huge night for marriage equality. For the first time ever, voters in several states elected to allow all state citizens the right to marry who they choose, regardless of sex, gender or sexual orientation. Major kudos to Maryland and Maine for that one. Fingers crossed that my home state of Washington goes the right way when all the ballots are counted. Minnesota also voted down a measure that would have restricted marriage to heteros.

Cheers also to Washington State for legalizing recreational marijuana. It’s not a perfect law, but it makes it legal to buy and sell small quantities of marijuana grown by licensed sellers in the state. Pot will be taxed heavily and regulated by the state, with revenues going toward things like substance abuse programs, research, education and health care. DUI laws, virtually identical to those used for driving while intoxicated, will be implemented for marijuana use. So pot smokers over the age of 21 can smoke without fear of reprisal, the general public is protected as well as they can be (and probably more than they currently are), and the state gets a bunch of money to pay for necessary programs. Win win win. Colorado passed a similar law, although I’m not familiar with the details, and Oregon rejected one (wtf, Oregon?).

There were a few other victories
, and a few ridiculous laws that passed as well. A bunch of states love guns and hunting and are standing up to some invisible political enemy who’s trying to take their enormous stockpiles of weapons; nothing new there.

But generally, a pretty excellent night. Whiskey shots at midnight were probably not the best call for me personally, but otherwise, feeling good.

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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35 Responses to The Morning After

  1. FashionablyEvil says:

    Minnesota’s a win. They voted down an amendment that would have amended the state constitution to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman.

    So, they did vote no, but you wanted the answer to the question to be no if you support marriage equality.

    • Jill says:

      Oh crap! Read that wrong. Will update.

    • kb says:

      also, Minnesota still has a law that says man and woman. Not that blocking the constitutional amendment isn’t a good thing, but. . . I still had to legally swear that I was part of a man/woman couple to get married there.

      • April says:

        I’m really hoping this means we’ve opened the floodgates for actual marriage equality here. My god, I was on the edge of my seat all night… super happy at first with “no” having a solid lead, then as the margin decreased, feeling really hopeless… then waking up to “no” votes on both the marriage amendment AND the voter ID amendment! I was optimistic about the marriage vote, but much less so for voter ID. I could have just peed. I’m so proud of my state :)

  2. Odin says:

    Hey now, MN ‘s a win for social justice! We REJECTED our anti-gay and voter-suppression amendments. Legitimately too, without relying on the “blank = no vote”, and despite nailbitingly close polls on the marriage amendment and, a week ago, pretty universal expectation that the voter ID amendment would pass by a significant margin.

    Yes, Bachmann was re-elected by her constituants, but the rest of the state rejected the anti-gay amendment that was her legacy from her tenure in the state legislature.

  3. A.Y. Siu says:

    And boo to Minnesota, otherwise one of my favorite states in the nation, for voting down marriage equality. But hey, two out of four (and hopefully three out of four) ain’t bad.

    I honestly think this kind of confusing presentation of voting propositions was a huge factor in Proposition 8 passing in California. No way there are that many homophobic people in California. Yes means no, no means yes… dangerous!

  4. Nobody says:

    As a native Californian (now living on the East coast) I was thrilled to see that CA residents are finally getting tired of their state being an ungovernable mess thanks to the sh*ttrain that Howard Jarvis set in motion 30-odd years ago.

    CA has been in slow motion collapse for over a decade and I was honestly starting to think that people would never get fed up enough to do anything about it.

  5. Kristen J. says:

    Here we celebrated with cake and beer. Sadly, Sheriff Joe was re-elected. Boo.

  6. Faithless says:

    sigh, sadly even with the taxes on it, that means the street price of weed will go up in surrounding states since there will be legal options across the border :(

    • Anon21 says:

      I don’t understand why you would expect the price to go up. Wouldn’t the price go down, to compete with the new source of supply?

  7. FYouMudFlaps says:

    Yeah, just echoing the others who said Minnesota voting NO was the desired outcome since the amendment was going to enshrine inequality in the state constitution.

  8. FYouMudFlaps says:

    My avatar thingy is so cute!

  9. de Pizan says:

    As I understand it, Oregon’s marijuana measure was more radical than the ones that passed. It said that anyone could grow plants without a license as long as you were over 21; there was no maximum cap on how much you could have in your possession; and companies could grow hemp for industrial purposes without regulation. There was also much much less spent on advertising the bill as in the two other states.

  10. GallingGalla says:

    Unfortunately, the news about marijuana in WA and CO isn’t as good as it seems, as marijuana is still illegal at the federal level. No legitimate vendors of marijuana can realistically be expected to develop when they are threatened with Federal raids and arrests – as has been happening with medical marijuana, where the Feds are prosecuting desperately ill patients and their suppliers. So I think the victory is symbolic.

    • Donna L says:

      On the other hand, I guess people don’t have to be worried that they’re going to be arrested if they walk down the street smoking a joint.

      • ColoradoSal says:

        Actually, here in Colorado possession will be legal, but not public use. So… even without the state vs. federal issues, this would be a problem. I’m very curious to see how things play out.

      • Radfem says:

        I know with medical marijuana in California in many cities the cities/counties just use code enforcement and the court system to close dispensaries. That happened in my city.

    • Jill says:

      The victory isn’t just symbolic. It means, as Donna points out, that people won’t be arrested nearly as often for simple possession. And it will be quite interesting to see how the feds handle this — if there’s a directive to just ignore it, or if they pursue raids etc. If they do pursue raids, it could bring about some interesting and influential legal decisions.

      • zuzu says:

        One thing the feds have been doing here in CA is going after the landlords of the dispensaries, with limited success. At least if the pages and pages and pages of 420 ads in the local alt-weekly is any indication.

  11. Raudya says:

    Congrats for people in the U.S :D So happy. Even though there’s a lot of “even thoughs” that could be levied, but there are a lot more great news to be celebrated. 4 more years. Here’s hoping the progress that has been made in this election could become a standard for years to come.

    Btw, there’s an interesting video by the Guardian, interviewing people around the world’s reaction to Obama’s win : russians, egyptian, chinese… quite interesting. Interviews.

  12. Tony says:

    The result doesn’t change the damage that Citizens United does. It’s the giving, not the spending, that matters; by giving huge amounts to candidates, secret super-wealthy donors have what they want, which is influence over the candidate and the party. Yes, this time, an outpouring of small donor support for Barack Obama and an exceptionally better field and data operation on the Democratic side cancelled out the Republicans’ SuperPAC spending, but that won’t always be the case. Middle class and struggling families shouldn’t have to spend their money giving to political candidates just to keep the plyaing field even, and the Republicans will improve their ground game and political operations. Eventually, that money will be decisive.

    The bigger story to my mind is that- going into this cycle, the Republicans embraced the SuperPACs, but the Democrats were reluctant. Going forward, both sides will be embracing SuperPACs in an escalating arms race to court wealthy donors. Candidates on both sides will have less independence than before, the there is no end in sight to the continuing trend of more billions being poured into every single cycle. 2008 blew out 2004 in money spent, 2012 blew out 2008, and every indication is that 2016 will blow out 2012. The impact of the ruling will be felt in the long term.

  13. Raudya says:

    Aah, bad news.

    From Wired; 4 more drones and a more comprehensive robotic warfare would be implemented soon. Not good at all.

    • Fucking of course.

      Because no matter who leads it, Rome 2.0 marches on.

    • Raudya says:

      @macavity, I wonder if it’s “valid” or not to talk about things like this. Because if romney had won, things would be much worse. Is it not ‘thankful’ to just accept things? Are those issues too soon to be adressed? But then I read some new reports about more deaths and bombings and conflicts and projects of war… those are important, and I think it’s still worthwhile to devote at least a little bit of the attention to those. /sorry for rant.

      • Honestly, Raudya, I don’t know. Part of me feels vaguely guilty for being a party-pooper with my comment above, part of me is all “some parties need pooping” and the rest of me doesn’t think that the celebration is independent of the depression.

      • SophiaBlue says:

        Defeating Romney was work that needed to be done and is worthy of celebration, but I don’t think there’s any problem with reminding ourselves that the work is far from over.

      • EG says:

        Agreed. Glad that Romney lost, but that doesn’t mean all is well.

  14. Raudya says:

    Aah, bad news.

    From Wired; 4 more drones and a more comprehensive robotic warfare would be implemented soon. Not good at all.

  15. Stella says:

    Considering that Obama was an acting president and his opponent a mormon he did really badly.

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