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Morning Feature – More Progressive Election Victories to Celebrate

November 13, 2012

Morning Feature

Morning Feature – More Progressive Election Victories to Celebrate

Last week, we discussed the victories for progressives in the 2012 Election: re-electing President Obama, growing the Democratic majority in the Senate, winning marriage equality votes in four states, and defeating Tea Party members of Congress. There were more. (More)

In fact, there were several other progressive victories in last week’s election that we should celebrate and build upon. Here are some of them:

A More Diverse and Progressive House Democratic Caucus WithHouse Democrats will make history in January as they will be the first major party caucus in US history where women and persons of color form the majority. In total, at least 57 House Democrats will be women, 41 will be African American, and 23 will be Latino. By contrast, at least 90% of the House Republican Caucus will be white males.

The House will also have a number of new or returning progressive faces, including the following candidates who were endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s Progressive Action PAC – Alan Grayson (FL-09), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Grace Meng (NY-06), Patrick Murphy (FL-18), Rick Nolan (MN-08), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Raul Ruiz (CA-36), Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01), and Mark Tacano (CA-41). In addition, progressive House candidate Ami Bera (CA-07) is leading in his race against GOP Congressman Dan Lungren, progressive Hakeem Jeffries won in New York’s 8th District, and Kyrsten Simena (AZ-09) has been declared the winner in her race. Ms. Sinema will be the first openly bisexual member of Congress and one of a record seven LGBT Americans serving in Congress.

Regaining Strength At the State Level – One of the worst impacts of progressives sitting on their hands in the 2010 elections was that tea party conservatives swept into power in state houses throughout the country just in time for Republicans to be able to control Congressional redistricting in a vast number of states. Such redistricting played a large role in the GOP keeping control of Congress in the 2012 elections. Fortunately, we did start to turn the tide back in those state houses this time around. In particular, a total of seven state houses changed from GOP to Democratic control, including both houses in Minnesota and Maine, and one house in New Hampshire. In addition, California Democrats finally managed to get the supermajorities that are required for revenue increases.

Rejecting Big Money in Politics – Voters resoundingly rejected the ability of corporations and billionaires to spend unfettered amounts of money to try to buy elections. In Colorado and Montana, voters overwhelmingly supported ballot initiatives urging a Constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United and other Supreme Court decisions establishing a right to spend unlimited amounts on campaign contributions. Colorado Proposition 65 passed with 73.8% of the vote, while Montana Initiative I-166 received 74.8% support. Voters in 120 cities throughout the country passed similar initiatives. At the same time, voters in California did not fall for the misleading Proposition 32, which was billed as an effort to get special interest money out of politics, but would have actually shut unions and other “special interests” from engaging in political advocacy while including a long list of exemptions that would have allowed hedge funds, investment firms, real-estate developers, insurance companies, and other corporate interests to continue buying elections at will.

Success on Other Ballot Proposals – Ballot proposals provided an opportunity to advance progressive causes in a number of other areas and, while we lost some of those proposals – for example, Californians rejected a proposal to abolish the death penalty – we also achieved some significant victories. Here are some examples:

In California, voters supported reforming the state’s three-strikes law by passing Proposition 36, and voted to increase taxes on the wealthy to fund eduction by passing Proposition 30.

In Florida, voters rejected an the anti-ObamaCare Proposition 1, anti-tax Propositions 3 and 4, Proposition 6’s restrictions on public funding of abortions, and Proposition 8, which would have allowed for public funding of religious organizations.

In Idaho, voters rejected Propositions 1, 2, and 3, which would have undermined teachers’ collective bargaining rights and sought to subsidize students signing up for online charter schools.

In Maryland, voters approved the state DREAM Act, which allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US by their parents and who attended high school in Maryland for at least three years to be eligible for in-state tuition at public colleges in Maryland.

In Minnesota, voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have required photo ID to vote and eliminate same day voter registration.

In Oregon, voters rejected phasing out the state estate tax (Proposition 84), and voted to allocate excess corporate taxes to education rather than refunding such money to corporations (Proposition 85).

Taken as a whole, the 2012 elections were not a “narrow victory” for President Obama and an endorsement of House Republicans. They were a resounding victory for Democrats, for the progressive movement, and for democracy itself.

  • NCrissieB

    Thank you for this, Winning Progressive. Last night my county Democrats had a victory celebration, and as Vice Chair I took a few minutes to thank them for their efforts and explain what their hard work had achieved. The 2012 election was, perhaps more than any in recent history, a victory for grassroots, small-d democratic government. As we’ll discuss later this week in Morning Feature, both President Obama’s victories in the key swing states and the other progressive victories across the nation happened because tens of thousands of grassroots activists were organized and engaged in one-to-one, person-to-person voter contacts.

    “TV ads didn’t win this year’s elections,” I told my local Democrats. “Neither did TV debates or gaffes or soundbites. Hurricane Sandy didn’t win this year’s elections. You did … with every phone call you made, every door you knocked on, every voter you helped register or get to the polls. You did that … all of that, and more … and everything you did … mattered.”

    The 2012 elections were a victory of people over money – hardworking Americans over billionaires and big corporations – and for me that was the sweetest, most progressive victory of all.

    Good morning! ::hugggggs::

  • winterbanyan

    This was absolutely uplifting to read, WP. I’d heard of some of it, but not nearly all of it. It appears we’re beginning to come to our senses about the need for taxes and resoundingly rejecting oligarchy.

    This election has been a true triumph for the People. Bigger than many want to admit.


  • Gardener

    Good news! Thanks!! 🙂

  • addisnana

    Thanks for the updates. There is a lot to celebrate and much more work to still be done. I think one of the biggest changes I’ve noticed is that the grassroots seems unwilling to just disband. We seem to realize what a force we are and can be and even if OFA doesn’t have plans for us, we have plans for ourselves.

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