In today's On the News segment: Obama won a second term by a landslide in the election; Democrats scored big in the Senate; marriage equality is legalized in Maine, Maryland and Washington; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The American people gave President Obama a second term with a landslide election victory Tuesday night, by bigger margins than Nixon, Kennedy, Carter, and both Bushes. Like every presidential election, it was all determined in the battleground states. Shortly after 11pm, the key battleground state of Ohio was called for President Obama - pushing him over the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. But he didn't need Ohio. All eight battleground states went the President's way Tuesday night – he also won the popular vote. Plain and simple – this is a mandate. As the President said in his victory speech, "Tonight, you voted for action, not politics as usual." But as the President also alluded to in his speech, his action will depend on our action. As he said, "The role of citizens in our democracy does not end with your vote." While the President may have accomplished a lot in his first term in the face of unprecedented, fierce political obstruction – there's no question he needs to do more and be bolder in a second term. And it's up to all of us to push him to do just that. Just as a movement elected the President, movements will be needed to drive legislation on climate change, corporate personhood, union rights, ending the drug war, bringing home our military – you name it. Let's get to work.
Democrats scored big in the Senate last night, too. Not only were Republicans stopped from taking the majority, which they thought was a real possibility just a few months ago – but Democrats picked up even more seats – increasing their majority. No prize was bigger in the Senate than reclaiming Ted Kennedy's old seat in Massachusetts – which goes to progressive icon Elizabeth Warren who trounced Republican incumbent Scott Brown. With her victory, and the departure of Democrats like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman, Senate Democrats moved to the Left. Also, in Wisconsin, Democrat Tammy Baldwin knocked off Tommy Thompson in their historic Senate race, which marks the first time an openly gay candidate has been elected to the United States Senate. In Missouri and Indiana, Tea Party Republican candidates and rape experts Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock both lost as well. Still in the majority, it's time for Leader Harry Reid to pursue filibuster reform. Meanwhile in the House of Representatives, Republicans will keep their majority, but lose some very outspoken freshman Tea Partiers. In Illinois, Congressman Joe Walsh lost his re-election, as did Congressman Allen West in Florida. So to recap the night for Republicans: Their so-called "moderate" at the top of the ticket lost, and their extremes in the Tea Party lost, too. And to make matters worse for Republicans, outspoken progressive Congressman Alan Grayson from Florida was once again elected last night to serve in the House. Democrats will have some fighters this term.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Nixon's failed drug war took a major hit on Election Day. Voters in Colorado and Washington state approved ballot measures to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for recreational use. This is the first time in our nation's history that a state has completely decriminalized marijuana – and on Tuesday – two states did it. Massachusetts voters also voted to legalize medicinal marijuana. But now the hard part begins. As Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper warned, "This will be a complicated process, but we intend to follow through. That said, federal law still says marijuana is an illegal drug, so don't break out the Cheetos or goldfish too quickly." In his first term, President Obama broke campaign promises by using federal agents to raid marijuana dispensaries that were operating in compliance with state law. Now that a re-election is no longer looming, it'll be interesting to see how the President handles states legalizing pot during his second-term.
Marriage equality scored historic victories on Tuesday night as well. Voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington state approved ballot measures to legalize same-sex marriage – marking the first time in history marriage that equality was voted into law through direct democracy. And in Minnesota, voters were able to beat back an attempt to re-write the state constitution to define marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. So it was a clean sweep, 4-0, for marriage equality around the nation. As Chad Grffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said about these victories, "This is a landmark election for marriage equality and we will forever look back at this year as a critical turning point in the movement for full citizenship for LGBT people." No doubt about it – this was a progressive election.
This election also marked the return of organized labor. In Ohio in particular, which is the most unionized state in the nation, President Obama can thank organized labor for his re-election. Building off their victory from last year's repeal of the anti-collective bargaining law SB5 - this year, unions went to work deploying canvassers around the state to get out the vote. According to polling within the AFL-CIO heading into Election Day – 70% of its members were planning to support President Obama. States built on organized labor like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin all broke to the President Tuesday night. Let's hope he remembers it and finally stands up for democracy in the workplace.
It wasn't all good news on Tuesday though. Prop 37 in California, which would have required the labeling of all foods containing GMOs, was defeated. Polls show huge majorities in California - and people in the rest of the nation - wanting to know what's in their food and if it contains GMOs. Despite that, the tens of millions of dollars spent by chemical and large agribiz companies like Monsanto and Dow defeated Prop 37. The measure had been ahead in the polls as recently as last month, but $45 million of corporate spending flipped it in the final weeks. While organized people prevailed over organized money in many races last night, this is a big one where they didn't – and Californians - and all Americans - still don't have a right to know what's in our food. Let's take care of that in the next election!
And that's the way it is today – Friday, November 7th, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.