There's tons of post-election analysis out there already, delivered by people with more credentials and mojo that I've got, but I'll toss my $0.02 in the pot anyway. Here the short version of my take: It's not quite "morning in America" yet, but it looks like the crack of dawn. (Or the crack of Don, depending on your taste.) For the first time since 1992, I have something to smile about on "the morning after" (as opposed to "the mourning after").
I've only just taken a look at the news this morning, because I avoided looking at returns last night (I learned my lesson in 2000, thank you), but here are the items that I top my list of what makes today a good day.
- First off, yes, the Democrats taking back the House — with a possible 30-plus majority — and having the Senate being within reach is a good thing for any number of reasons. For one thing, the House is where a number of the Congressional crazies have had an uninterrupted field day since 1994, and where some of the most extreme legislative attempts have come from. If nothing else, that will stop.
- In my own back yard, I'm thrilled that Maryland is saying goodbye to its Republican governor and its black Republican lieutenant governor. Our Governor-elect and Senator-elect aren't ideal (I'd rather O'Malley had the courage to speak out against an anti-gay marriage amendment, and that we could have a Senator who supports same-sex marriage as Mfume did), but I knocked on doors for them in this election, and I'm glad I did. They're a damn sight better than our outgoing governing duo, and more likely to count as a vote against the FMA in Congress and an ally in stopping an anti-gay marriage amendment in Maryland.
- Just north of us, Senator Rick "Man On Dog" Santorum will soon be private citizen Santorum, but not without having left behind a legacy that ensures his name will be remembered. The only question remaining now is where Robert Traynham — the black gay guy with the job of putting words in the Senator's mouth — will find his next job. I'm not worried for him, though. Even with today's good news, there's got to be more anti-gay Members of Congress in need of a good gay lackey. Maybe he'll update his website with news of his future plans.
- It's also nice that the Minnesota gay Republican state Senator, Paul Koering, who was the sole Republican to join Democrats in blocking a vote on anti-gay marriage amendment in that state, and who came out shortly after that vote, won re-election and defeated an opponent who tried to make the campaign about Koering's sexual orientation. An out, gay, Republican who voted against a gay marriage ban got re-elected in the mid-West. How could that that not be news?
- Speaking of anti-gay stuff, it's huge, wonderful, amazing news that Arizona's anti-gay marriage amendment was defeated. Don't get me wrong, I'm more than aware that the rest of the amendments passed, and that same-sex marriage is still illegal in Arizona. But it's a first that one of these amendments has been defeated, and significant for that reason alone, but also because it may point to a viable strategy for defeating future amendments. Would it have been great to have defeated at least one more amendment, say, in Wisconsin? Yup. But in this case, even one victory is huge and builds the foundation for more in the future.
- Finally, watching the Bush administration swallowing and gagging on the idea of a Democratic Congress is deeply, deeply satisfying. Though I have doubts that Bush will finally make good on his promise to be a "uniter," despite his unintended success in uniting a number of voters against him, his administration, his party, and his agenda.
I don't expect any great progressive strides from Dems once they take over Congress. Given the pattern of progressive bloggers backing centrists in order to win back Congress, and the apparent success with that strategy, they'll probably stick to the middle of the road in order to continue to appeal to the "partial progressives" who've put them back into power, and focus on issues like Iraq and the economy, while steering clear of any controversial social issues that those voters would rather not talk about anymore.
With control of the Senate and House, at the very least they can be counted on to stop any truly terrible anti-gay legislation before it gets out of the starting gate (which means the FMA should be DOA in the upcoming session of Congress), but when comes to pushing for progress on LGBT issues, we and our families are on our own, at least in terms of leadership on the national level.
So, nationally, I think the best we can hope for is to be left alone and that at least nothing awful will come down the pike from DC. What progress we get we will have to make happen largely on our own, on the ground, in our own back yards, with whatever backing we can get from our friends and neighbors. The good news is that today it looks like, at least in some places, we have a fighting chance.
So, it's a good day. Or better, at least, than it might have been.
Update: Forgot to add that 67 gay and lesbian candidates were elected to federal, state, and local office this election cycle. Talk about support from our friends and neighbors.