No big surprise, but I’m very pleased with how the election turned out. Not only was Barack Obama elected for a second term, but the Democrats have a majority in the Senate, a number of women senators were elected or re-elected (including Elizabeth Warren, who I think is dynamite, and Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay female Senator), marriage rights were extended to same-sex couples in three more states, and an amendment opposing same-sex marriage was voted down in Minnesota. I don’t know what the next four years will bring, but I would like to see this election as a general repudiation of the reactionary politics of the far-right Tea Party and a sign that the U.S. is moving forward, socially and economically. The future is multiracial, multicultural, and multi-faith. I don’t see how the GOP can continue if it keeps itself the party of caucasian, socially conservative Christians.
More importantly, I don’t want to see the GOP continue forward as an obstructionist party, refusing to negotiate or give ground, working more to make the Democrats fail than to make the country as a whole succeed. I’m a democratic republican, and for a democratic republic to work, people have to work together. It’s not always going to be smooth and easy, but that’s the way it goes.
And it’s not just elected officials. Everyone on the right, the left, and in the middle has to work at this. In his victory speech last night, President Obama said,
The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.
It’s not just America. Any democratic republic is messy and complicated. It requires constant work. It requires you to think about and talk about politics all the time, not just every election cycle. It requires compromise, negotiation, diplomacy, argument, debate, participation, and activism. If you want to live in a democratic republic, you have to be involved. If that seems too difficult, if politics is something you don’t want to be a part of, if you’re not willing to put the work in, life in a democratic republic may not be right for you. If you want to sit back and let other people make decisions for you, go live in a monarchy, a dictatorship, a theocracy. In a democratic republic, you have to get your hands dirty and you have to deal with people you may not like. You have to be willing to give as much as you get, to not always get your way, but to speak up and make your voice heard.
Let’s get back to work, people!