Thursday, November 08, 2012

2012 US Election

Did anyone else watch the US election the other night? I spent most of the day fretting when the polls would close and how Hurricane Sandy would affect voters in New Jersey and New York.

I was glued to my computer, watching live results on the Guardian's website. They're a British website and just happened to be the site that popped up when I was looking for results. I stayed with them the whole day and had great time. Their results for various states updated every minute, they had correspondents all over the country providing updated information about polling stations, cable news coverage and random tweets about the election. PBS Newshour had live streaming coverage, breaking down the results for the presidency, the House of Representatives and the Senate (Who knew PBS had a news program?)

When polling stations finally had something to report, the board took on a red tinge. Only very slowly did blue states begin to pop up. My main concern was which way the 'swing' states would lean. The further we got into the night and as red and blue crept over a map of the US, we got closer to that magic number of 270 votes which is the minimum required of electoral votes to win the presidency. Then, shortly after 8pm the majority of the cable news shows and polls called the election for Barack Obama. Votes were still being counted and Florida was switching between the two candidates every half hour or so.

Everyone expected Romney to make the obligatory phone call of congratulations to Obama and then his concession speech. Instead, we had to wait almost two hours before he arrived and gave a speech about how he wished he had been America's choice and how everyone should pray for the president. Pundits thought perhaps the Romney camp was waiting on more results from Ohio as evidenced by Karl Rove on Fox News.

Or perhaps it was because Romney hadn't written a concession speech and was instead, hurriedly writing something down.

“I just finished writing a victory speech,” he later told reporters aboard the Romney plane for its final flight. “It’s about 1,118 words.”

What about a concession speech?

“I’ve only written one speech at this point,” the would-be next president said.

Now it would be simplistic to say that you can see the differences in these two men from the speeches they made. I will say however that the speeches elicited different emotional responses from me. Romney's speech felt short, rushed and inelegant but generous. In contrast, Obama's speech was elegant, inspiring, gracious and heartfelt.

For your own edification, here are both speeches.

Apart from Obama getting re-elected there were a lot of other amazing results to come out of that night, especially for women.

Wisconsin elected their first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin who also happens to be the first female to hold that office in the state.

New Hampshire will be sending an all-female delegation. This includes newly elected House Reps Democrats Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster, Governor-Elect Maggie Hassan and Senators Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat and Kelly Ayotte, a Republican who weren't up for re-election. This is absolutely awesome for women in politics. Unfortunately by next year Hassan will be the only female Democratic governor in the country as of the four female governors, the two Democrats will be stepping down after 2012.

Women will take a record 20 Senate seats, all formerly held by men.

Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren beat out Republican candidate Scott Brown in Massachusetts, making her the first female senator from the state.

Click here for more information on how well women did in the election.

The first Asian-American was elected to the Senate. She is also Hawaii's first female Senator.

Both Senate candidates who made controversial statements about rape were ousted from their seats.

Republican congressman Todd Akin lost his seat to Democrat Claire McCaskill in MissouriAkin claimed that female victims of “legitimate rape” rarely experience pregnancy from rape: “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.”

Click here to watch the interview in which he makes this statement.

Republican candidate Richard Mourdock lost the race to Democratic congressman Joe Donelly in Indiana. Mourdock claimed that pregnancy resulting from rape was “something that God intended to happen”: “I believe that life begins at contraception. The only exception I have to have an abortion is in the life of the mother. I just struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God – that I think even if life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Click here to see video of Mourdock making this statement.

It should be noted that Joe Donelly is also against abortion.

Also, both Washington and Colorado voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use for those 21 and over.

Four states have also voted for marriage equality. Washington, Maine, Maryland and Minnesota. This is a huge step forward in such a short span of time.

Something else you may be interested to know is that Puerto Rico voted to change their status. When asked how they wanted to change their status, a majority of Puerto Ricans voted that they wanted statehood, as in, become the 51st state of the US. They are currently a US territory. They are Americans but do not vote in elections or have representatiion in the government. They govern themselves but follow American laws.

My guess for the future of the Republican party is that they’re going to have to evaluate their position on a myriad of topics including immigration, abortion, health care, etc. They must embrace female voters, young voters, African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans. If they steer the course they will continue on a losing trend as their core of dependable voters shrinks in the face of growing diversity. The party of old, white, rich men cannot succeed. That time in history is over.

I foresee the party breaking in two if they don’t agree on what values to hold. I don’t see how the moderates can countenance the vitriolic remarks made by those who lean more to the right on social issues.

The US may be in store for a three party system if the moderates and far right supporters go their separate ways. It would definitely may American politics more interesting! A two party system is a boring system. Look at Canada for instance. We have four major parties and you never know what's going to happen.

I had a great time watching the US election but I am supremely happy that it is finished for a few years. What did you think of the 2012 US election?

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