Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Election Day = Binders full of Women

What happened on Election Day was as significant for women as it was for so-called “minorities.” A big win for women and people of color.

As I sat with my friend Ivy Bottini that night watching the numbers play on the big screen, I jumped with joy as Democratic woman after woman trounced, or narrowly beat, their male opponents running for Senate seats. Even before 8 p.m. California time,
The trend was clear; women were pissed and were voting for women. Five out of seven Senate races were emerging with victories for the Democratic women who were up for election.

“There’s something happening here,” I leaned over and whispered to Ivy as the seven o’clock hour began to disappear—“what it is ain’t exactly clear. But I hear a rumble across the country." A Democratic rumble! A binder full of women was sweeping the Senate.

Finally the coalition we liberals have been trying to RE-build for a decade—the coalition of people of color, labor, women and gays—not to mention youth—was taking shape that night. This is the coalition that swept JFK and Bill Clinton into office.
But this was the coalition that had also disintegrated throughout the Reagan and Bush eras. Is this Coalition of the Left here to stay? People of color have done their job—coming out in huge numbers, so its only gays and women who need to stay aligned and active.

Gay and lesbian, and all queer activists have been saying for years now that gays have to crawl out of our own self-defined exclusive identity politics and take up our rightful position in the ranks of the new, new, new liberal and progressive movement. We are a natural part of this coalition if we understand that the Democratic Party is far more likely to embrace full equality faster if we are loud and active.

The “something’s happening here” election on Nov. 6th also marked a long sought sea-change in our fight for marriage equality. By popular vote three states finally turned the tide. In Maryland, Washington, and Massachusetts, we won!  Over the last two decades gays have lost state-wide equality initiatives 32 times. That’s a lot of money down the drain some might say. But democracy moves by increments. I believe gay rights have achieved critical mass in the national consciousness. I for one never thought I’d see the day when a gay issue (marriage) became THE straight-liberal litmus test.

Obama won his election, true. But women, gays, people of color, and labor won too!  And my, it feels good, doesn’t it?