Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Getting Results: Who won? We did

Published in the Portland Phoenix

We did it. The progressive, thinking, socially minded, involved people — people like you, the readers of the Portland Phoenix — won the election. For years, we've been talking about marriage equality, about preventing religious ideologues from getting between women and their doctors (and pharmacists), about the fact that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers, that we are all on this Earth together, that "I've got mine" is a terrible philosophy dividing and destroying us rather than freeing us to some self-powered higher achievement.
We knew, when we heard the speeches, that Obama was right — nobody who built a business in this country did so without the help of roads and schools and firefighters and police officers. (Not to mention the government-insured bank accounts that let all of us stash our earnings safely.)
We agreed with Massachusetts US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren when she declared during her campaign, "You built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."
We knew it was wrong for Governor Paul LePage and his fellow Republicans in the Legislature to cut off state-subsidized health-care coverage for thousands of young poor Mainers.
We knew Mitt Romney's claim that the government shouldn't pick "winners and losers" in the business world was misguided because he failed to mention the federal tax policies that picked him and his investor-class ilk to become incredible winners, at the expense of all us workaday losers out here.
We know climate change is happening — and we've already taken our own action to slow its progress. We know it is wrong to throw out immigrants who are trying to help us make this country better. We know handing senior citizens coupons toward private health insurance isn't a way to guarantee a human right.
So while conservative pundits, misogynists, homophobes, racists, and corporate raiders lick their wounds and re-evaluate how they got everything so wrong, we — the Portland Phoenix and our readers — can take heart. After years of being made to think we were the minority, the underclass, the un-privileged, those who lack support, we can now take comfort in the fact that the people of Maine, and the American public at large, have our backs.
On November 7, we woke up in our world. Even Bill O'Reilly admitted on Fox News on election night, "It's not a traditional America anymore." He was referring to demographic change, but his statement has a much wider truth: "Traditional America" isn't what a lot of people thought it was.
Joel Benenson, Obama's chief pollster in 2008 and 2012, wrote a post-election piece in the New York Times, describing the "set of values that define an America that the majority of us wish to live in: A nation that makes the investments we need to strengthen and grow the middle class. A nation with a fair tax system, and affordable and excellent education for all its citizens. A nation that believes that we're most prosperous when we recognize that we are all in it together."
We knew it — and we've been saying it — all along.