I honestly feared that he wouldn't be able to do it.
I expected to be facing today with a heavy heart learning that Barack Obama lost the presidential election to Mitt Romney. But that didn't happen, despite every last bitter effort from the GOP over the last four years to discredit and disenfranchise the President and his supporters. Barack Obama won the election, Romney conceded, and the worst of my fears were soothed.
But I am not celebrating. I am pleased about the outcome, relieved, but infinitely more somber than I was after Obama's 2008 win. His victory yesterday was hardly a mandate from the American people; almost half of them voted for a man who became best known for his remarkable facility to lie, conceal, dismiss, offend, and vacillate on his positions almost daily. Horror shows like Michelle Bachmann and Sheriff Joe Arpaio were retained, despite overwhelming evidence that Arpaio is a corrupt racist of the highest magnitude, and Bachmann is a feeble-minded zealot. The House remains in strong Republican control, and John Boehner already weighed in last night with a vow to never raise taxes; the obstructionist Congress with continue. The GOP added more governors to their ranks last night, leaving us with the bizarro world of places like my home state of Wisconsin, where voters didn't recall the Tea Party billionaire's batboy, Scott Walker, yet went blue for Obama.
Over one million American citizens voted for Missouri GOP Senate candidate Todd Akin, he of the fabulously, stunningly, horrifically ignorant "legitimate rape" position. One. Million. People. And once again, we see simple facts played out on a big red-and-blue patchwork map: the poorest, least-educated, most religious, primarily rural areas overwhelmingly vote conservative and the wealthiest, most-educated, and least-religious areas with higher-density urban populations vote progressive.
We remain, today, still fundamentally divided, and no closer to working together as a functional democracy.
So, if you don't want four more years of the GOP spending all of their time and effort pandering to the richest and their pathetic money-hoarding, self-serving, morally-bankrupt agenda, trying to buy their way into heaven by pretending to care about babies, and smirking while every credible, non-oil-industry-paid-for scientist screams that we must act NOW to stave off more destruction to our planet, you have to step up. Not just at election time, but ALL the time. And not the other guy, either...YOU. It is YOU and YOU ALONE that can break the grip the ignorant and fearful and intolerant have on our country, and if you do not, we aren't gonna make it. Radicalism on both sides will become even more prevalent, and radicals often behave like they have nothing left to lose.
If you want the gridlock to end, you must become your government representative's NEW BEST FRIEND. If you don't know the names, phone numbers, websites, and email addresses of ALL your state and federal reps, do it TODAY. Post them where you can see them every day. Then tell them, often and with steely resolve, that you expect far more from them now. Tell then you are aware that many in Congress will be up for another term in a year or so, and that you and all your pals enjoy voting. Tell them they have to work together to serve ALL the people, not just those with the deepest pockets. And I cannot stress this one enough: pay VERY VERY close attention to what happens as Supreme Court vacancies come up and the nomination process begins. This will be the real legacy of Obama's presidency, and it is crucial that the very finest legal minds with characters that cannot be corrupted into making more devastating democracy-destroying decisions like Citizens United are selected to serve.
You must let your representatives know that you DEMAND transparency and equality, or you won't get it. And I include President Obama in that demand, for he too must answer for the NDAA, Guantanamo, drone warfare, and doing more to protect us from insidious "states' rights" horseshit that is so effective in achieving voter suppression, cutting off access to legal reproductive choice, and changing public school policies to promote religious-right beliefs.
No one man, and no one political party can do it alone. You voted, and I thank you. Now the real work starts. Take the momentum from today and keep running, or we will have learned very little from the last four years.