I, like many of my colleagues, took a breath of relief last night when Obama won his second term. In addition, a lot of the other interesting races went Democrat as well, Elizabeth Warren most notably, but also Donnelly and McCaskill (seems like the Republicans got bit pretty hard over their rape insanity). The only thing that would’ve made me happier (aside from the entirely unlikely possibility of the Democrats taking the House) is if Jim Graves put Bachmann out to pasture once and for all.
Not all of my colleagues are relieved today, however. Since I started coming in to the office more (new team) in August, and as the pressures of the race started to make it daily conversation, I heard a lot of crazy things coming from engineers that I would otherwise respect. I can’t be sure, but I don’t think that they make 250k a year either. I guess Texas is Texas even in Austin.
We had a lot of nice propositions on the ballot for Austin too and most of them passed which hopefully translates into a lot of new funding for great projects like libraries, museums and – most controversially if you judge by yard signs – a new medical school for UT.
However, returning to the national level, the picture is almost resoundingly positive for we progressives.
The Supreme Court
At least one, if not more of the justices will be replaced in the next 4 years due to death or retirement. Ginsburg is likely who would’ve been replaced by a conservative judge in a Romney universe. Instead a younger liberal judge will be put in place. Other’s like Kennedy or Scalia would be wins for the Democrats, and for sanity, as things like Citizens United, Roe v. Wade, and hopefully new reforms are challenged in our highest court.
The life term limit for the judges makes their influence long reaching and for Obama to get another one or two appointments to the bench would go a long way to avoiding future conflict for major progressive reforms (if we get that far). For the record I don’t advocate violating the Constitution for these reforms, but I do believe that the Constitution was written 200 years ago and must be interpreted to be relevant today.
The Punishment of Liars
The GOP is full of lies and misinformation. There’s no way that you can deny that they’ve been involved in some of the most vapid and factless campaigns in history. From Romney’s 2010 Lie of the Year coming up in a debate two years after it had been thoroughly debunked, to the fact that the Romney campaign “won’t be dictated to by fact checkers” to the bold-faced, consistent and totally idiotic lies from day one of the Obama presidency (i.e. Obama is a muslim/socialist/fascist/anti-christ/gay/communist/Kenyan).
On top of it, Mitt Romney’s campaign promises were many and details were few. While I can’t say he didn’t have a brilliant set of tax deduction eliminations and plugged loopholes to offset his tax cut agenda, I can say that if he did he’s an idiot for not being specific and that lack of details likely means he was bullshitting us all in an attempt to get elected on a mound of empty promises.
If the GOP had been rewarded this cycle with the Presidency or a new majority in the Senate, it would cause them to view lying and empty promises as a valid tactic. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and in fact the Democrats made gains at every level nationally. I’d be surprised if the GOP does some soul searching and realizes that they need to come up with concrete solutions instead of promises next time around, and I fully expect the next round of utter bullshit is already being cooked up, but if we can establish a pattern over a few more cycles of “crazy and/or liars = unelectable” maybe the Democrats can take the House in 2014 and the Presidency again in 2016 and then after so many cycles of failure, they’ll get the point. Maybe they’ll realize that pandering to the extreme right for the primary and then tacking hard back to center for the general election is a losing strategy. Then perhaps we’ll get a real alternative party or, even better, a party that is willing to cross the aisle and compromise when the American people universally realize that we need progression instead of regression.