Obama elected


in Daily updates, Politics

Judging by the blogs I read and the company I was in last night, the historical significance and emotional force of Obama’s victory was universally felt. It was certainly a remarkable evening. After almost a decade in which the American president was selected by slim margins in single swing states, it was impressive to see the election called before Florida had even been decided. Obama clearly has a strong mandate, and we should all be hoping that he proves as effective and capable in government as he has been on the campaign trail. Obviously, there are a lot of immediate problems that need to be sorted out, at the same time as we need to be laying the critical groundwork for the transition to a sustainable global economy.

Somewhat surprisingly, I think the best speech of the night was actually McCain’s concession. It was the best speech I have ever seen him give. One might cynically observe that it was only after losing that he felt he could step back from some of his campaign’s more baseless attacks against Obama. More optimistically, perhaps the graciousness of the gesture will be mirrored in at least a temporary willingness on the part of Congressional Republicans to support the new administration in dealing with the trickiest and more immediate difficulties facing the country.

It’s a shame the open-mindedness demonstrated in the presidential election didn’t extend to some of the ballot initiative races that took place. I remain confident that, in fifty years, we will view bans on gay marriage as just as reprehensible and absurd as we would view a ban on interracial marriage today. The pathetic bigotry that drives voters to amend their state constitutions to strip basic rights from their fellow citizens is a demonstration that the slow process of building a tolerant and empathetic society, even within a single state, has a long way to go.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

. November 5, 2008 at 11:01 am

Class Act
McCain’s respectful concession speech
By Christopher Beam

Posted Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008, at 1:02 AM ET

Milan November 5, 2008 at 11:33 am
. November 5, 2008 at 11:38 am

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

“It’s morning in America again — but for the thousands of committed gay couples who got married in California [warning: Dan Fogelberg music, sweet visuals], the long nightmare of intolerance and hate is not yet over with the probable victory of Proposition 8. Supported by the anti-equality stances of Sarah Palin and “divinely” inspired others, and paid for by members of the Mormon Church and the mother of Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater, many of the ads for Prop. 8 featured the faces of Obama and Joe Biden, who declared their opposition to the initiative but refused to support equal marriage rights for all, preferring to talk about “civil unions.” Even excellent Democratic-leaning politics sites like Talking Points Memo were saturated with the deceptive ads, which overwhelmed those comparing the proposition to other forms of discrimination in California’s history. “

Mica Prazak November 5, 2008 at 12:03 pm

McCain’s speech was certainly a wonderful class act. Obama’s by contrast was something of a let-down. My only guess would be that it had just dawned on the young Obama how much people are going to rely on him. He is only one man, and the problems of America are much greater than him. He needs America’s support. Republican and Democrat. And McCain’s speech, just as Obama’s were during his long campaign, was an inspired message of hope.

Regardless of the result, both candidates were fine men, and both capable of holding office. If anything I felt a genuine respect the two leaders had for each other, was probably hindered by advisors and strategy.

Anyways, it is a wonderful day. The world wanted Obama. We got him. But he has a harder job now, than Bush ever did.

Mica Prazak November 5, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Also remember, that concession speeches are always easier to give.

Gore’s concession speech in 2000 was the best part of that god-awful evening.

. November 5, 2008 at 1:49 pm

America’s new president
Time for a change

Nov 5th 2008 | CHICAGO
From The Economist print edition
Every president says he will unite America. Can Barack Obama do so?

. November 5, 2008 at 2:47 pm

Obama a shining light for us, too: Canadian reaction
CBC News
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 5, 2008 | 2:40 PM ET

R.K. November 5, 2008 at 3:17 pm

As of November 12th, gay marriages will be legal in Connecticut. The only other American jurisdiction that still allows it is Massachussets, on the basis of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.

Sarah November 5, 2008 at 3:36 pm

Actually, New York State will recognize gay marriages that occur out of state (easy to do since there’s an express train to Boston), so that’s 3 jurisdictions.

Sarah November 5, 2008 at 3:46 pm

It is also worth noting that the opponents of Prop 8 maintain a) not all the ballots are counted yet, and b) they will challenge it in court http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-9508.html . This is cool insofar as a legal judgement over-turning a bigoted constitutional amendment could be a wonderful precedent. Thirty US states have such amendments (some are super-DOMAs which ban the recognition of a same-sex relationship akin to marriage) & more are likely to follow. Sooner or later, the American courts will have to rule on whether constitutional amendments by popular referenda are an appropriate way for minority rights issues to be handled.

Milan November 5, 2008 at 3:54 pm

Sooner or later, the American courts will have to rule on whether constitutional amendments by popular referenda are an appropriate way for minority rights issues to be handled.

Clearly, they are not. One of the better things Paul Martin did as Prime Minister was to make this argument explicitly:

The Charter was enshrined to ensure that the rights of minorities are not subjected, are never subjected, to the will of the majority. The rights of Canadians who belong to a minority group must always be protected by virtue of their status as citizens, regardless of their numbers. These rights must never be left vulnerable to the impulses of the majority.

I wrote about gay marriage in Canada in February, June, and December 2006.

Sarah November 5, 2008 at 4:14 pm

The issue is a little different in the US, though, since they have a system with weak party discipline that thus punishes individuals for their votes on key issues. As such, elected figures in the US run scared of majority opinion & are too cowardly to legislate on crucial social issues, leaving them de facto to the courts. That’s pretty damned unsatisfactory. Activist judges are the obvious result of this legislative failure, but also an easy target for charges of elitism, lack of accountability etc. from those on the right. Judges in the US have good cause to be worried that if they overstep the mark then the principles of judicial independence & oversight may be further (and perhaps permanently) undermined by right wing administrations.

. November 5, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Left at the Altar
What happens now to gay marriage, in California and elsewhere?
By Kenji Yoshino
Posted Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008, at 7:09 PM ET

On Tuesday, California voters passed Proposition 8, the amendment to the state constitution that eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry, scuttling a California Supreme Court ruling in May that granted that right. The amendment’s passage represents a serious setback to the right of gays and lesbians to marry.

. November 6, 2008 at 9:57 am

Chart of marijuana-related ballot initiatives for 2008: big wins
Posted by Mark Frauenfelder, November 5, 2008 4:15 PM

“Massachusetts Question 2: Remove the threat of arrest or jail for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana, replacing it with a $100 fine, which could be paid through the mail without lawyers or court appearances, just like a speeding ticket. WIN 65%-35%”

. November 6, 2008 at 10:09 pm

Change.gov is a website launched by the Obama team’s Presidential Transition Project which documents the transition into power and solicits ideas from the public.

. November 13, 2008 at 7:44 pm

“But here’s my election-night reax, a week late, for what it’s worth: I voted for Obama, gave money to Obama, and cried when CNN called it for Obama. But the approval of the Mormon-bankrolled anti-gay-marriage amendment in California quickly snuffed my Obama buzz. I had expected anti-gay-marriage amendments in Arizona and Florida to pass, of course, but voters in California—particularly those who voted for Obama, against the rights of same-sex couples, and for the rights of farm animals—came close to ruining election night for me.”

. November 15, 2008 at 12:35 pm

“After all, traditional marriage isn’t just analogous to sex discrimination—it is sex discrimination: Only men may marry women, and only women may marry men. Same-sex marriage would transform an institution that currently defines two distinctive sex roles—husband and wife—by replacing those different halves with one sex-neutral role—spouse. Sure, we could call two married men “husbands” and two married women “wives,” but the specific role for each sex that now defines marriage would be lost. Widespread opposition to same-sex marriage might reflect a desire to hang on to these distinctive sex roles rather than vicious anti-gay bigotry. By wistfully invoking the analogy to racism, same-sex marriage proponents risk misreading a large (and potentially movable) group of voters who care about sex difference more than about sexual orientation.”

. November 15, 2008 at 12:39 pm

“None of this justifies the opposition to same-sex marriage. But it does help to explain it. I wish voters had overcome their identity crises and supported gay marriage. But many same-sex marriage advocates have been talking past the people they need to convince: the large, moderate opposition that voted for sex difference, not homophobia. Dropping the oversimplified analogy between racism and homophobia would help same-sex marriage supporters make their case more effectively.

And it would help us to see that despite last week’s set backs, there’s reason for optimism: Anti-gay bias is probably less severe and widespread than the results of last week’s elections seem to suggest. But the complexities of modern sexual politics may make the struggle for same-sex marriage harder than Barack Obama’s struggle against racial prejudice. Maybe the nation will be ready for same-sex marriage when it’s comfortable enough with evolving sex roles to elect its first female president. Michelle Obama in 2016?”

R.K. January 3, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Obama’s change.org website has some new blogs you may like:

One’s on climate change

The other is on gay rights

. May 15, 2009 at 5:51 pm

California Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban

In a 4-3 decision, the justices rule that people have a fundamental ‘right to marry’ the person of their choice and that gender restrictions violate the state Constitution’s equal protection guarantee
By Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
May 16, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO — — The California Supreme Court struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage Thursday in a broadly worded decision that would invalidate virtually any law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.

The 4-3 ruling declared that the state Constitution protects a fundamental “right to marry” that extends equally to same-sex couples. It tossed a highly emotional issue into the election year while opening the way for tens of thousands of gay people to wed in California, starting as early as mid-June.

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