When it comes to income inequality, the 2012 Presidential Election was not a choice in any real sense. Voters had the option between President Obama, who presided over the most unequal recovery in history, and Mitt Romney, who promised to accelerate inequality still further.
One of most comforting takeaways from the Presidential race is Wall Street, Big Oil, and King Coal bet big on Mitt Romney—and lost. Wall Street benefited most from President Obama’s lopsided response to the economic crisis, but they still preferred Mitt Romney. The stock market reacted to the election with the biggest point decline of the year.
With the election over, politicians will return to pursuing the class war, which will heat up as the contrived fiscal cliff approaches. President Obama and Congress are eager to pursue a ‘grand bargain’, loosely translated as budget cuts and attacks on Social Security and Medicare—the only programs keeping a lid on US inequality, the highest in the developed world. In exchange for dismantling The New Deal and Great Society, the Pentagon budget will be spared and the 1% will see marginally higher taxes.
Shifting from the Presidential election to Congressional contests, the forces of class inequality were handed a clear defeat. Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies reports that candidates who received high grades on the IPS Congressional inequality report card were re-elected while one of the only two candidates to receive an ‘F’ lost their seat.
Shifting from income inequality to gender and marriage equality, a discernible pattern of progressive victories becomes clearer.
The people of Maryland, Washington, and Maine—for the first time in US history and a stunning reversal from previous attempts—voted to allow same-sex couples to marry. In Minnesota, voters defeated an attempt to restrict legal marriage to heterosexuals.
The second victory was for women. The Republican war on women resulted in female Democratic candidates taking a record number of seats. Liberal lion Elizabeth Warren defeated Scott Brown, who rallied his election supporters with racist attacks. New Hampshire made history by electing an all-women delegation. The seven infamous GOP candidates who made cruel remarks about rape were all soundly defeated.
Among other victories, the Orwellian nightmare the Tea Party was obliterated. Ballot questions about unions in several states ended in wins for workers. California is going to tax the rich and the racist drug war has been rejected by voters.
Those who fight for equality can celebrate important electoral wins. Victories empower us, and give us fuel to continue the struggle. That said, the bread-and-butter economic issues of the 99% will continue to be ignored unless we fight back and engage the political system outside traditional electoral system. Class inequality and poverty must be inserted into the national dialogue, however crudely. The chief lesson from anti-austerity protests in Iceland, Greece, Spain, and Quebec are clear: no resistance, no recovery.