They tried to stop people from voting and Black people and Latinos and Asians came out in huge amounts, angry at the effort. Giant majorities in the Black and Latino communities. Even more startling Asian Americans (including Vietnamese) voted 3 to 1 for Obama. Native Americans in North Dakota pushed the Democratic candidate over the top. And Jews, despite Sheldon Adelson, stayed solidly behind Obama by 68 percent. Nearly 30 years ago Jesse Jackson ran with the program of the Rainbow Coalition - and that very coalition, of people of color, women, gays and lesbians, environmentalists, peace advocates and others, won!
In fact, Adelson, Koch Bros and other billionaires spent millions and got nothing to show for it. The Pro Wrestling Queen dumped millions of her own money and still got taken down. Amazing that voters saw through the sleaze and the lies, saw through the misogyny and racism. I am so proud that Americans refused to be bought. Or at least the 51 or so percent of them who made it to the polls.
It was a totally savvy organizing crew by Obama - statistical Walt Whitmans rolling out catalogues of possibles and reliables to be mobilized - but it wasn't just number crunching. People were on the ground - all those campaign offices - working people to people that got out the vote, despite the long lines. It does pay to have experience as a community organizer. And there are indications that Obama will not fold up the machine as he did last time but keep some aspects of the campaign operation going to pressure Congress.
Progressives won many ballot initiatives, marriage equality, pot, taxes, candidates of all sorts - Asian American woman vet with no legs to Samoan Hawaiian woman who's Hindu.
And it was a joy to see Rove and O'Reilly and all the other bullies of the right stagger in dismay. They were so sure they would win, and their techniques were so antiquated that they hadn't realized how out of touch they were, and now they suffer from cognitive dissonance on a gigantic scale. May they forever walk around in a dizzy stupor
I don't know if this is a defining change in America, but it is the second presidential election in which the future won - so perhaps the future is here. But the 61 percent of white folks who voted for Romney are nothing to sniff at. Many can be won over and will be, but in places such as Mississippi there's a rage ready to boil over the top and all sorts of resistance to change and possibilities of violence. Wall Street and corporate power will not roll over - and the budget wars (along with the drone wars) continue. The fight is not over, by any means, but it's possible to feel optimistic - and glad.
Congratulations America, you surprised the world one more time - in a good way. I love you - and I've seen how ugly you can really get, so you should realize how much it means that an old fart like me can fall in love one more time. No viagra needed.
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Hilton Obenzinger is the author of "American Palestine: Melville, Twain and the Holy Land Mania" (Princeton), among many other books of criticism, poetry and fiction, and the recipient of the American Book Award. His most recent book is the (more...
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