I lied… it’s not Wednesday, and I’ve already finished the champagne. But now that we’ve all had time to digest the results (and the champagne), I wanted to reflect on Tuesday’s many victories.
For me, the prominent emotion when the election was called would be best described as exuberant relief. This was certainly a much different emotion than the one I felt in 2008, which would be better described as euphoria. ‘High-fives to strangers in the grocery store two days later’ euphoria. ‘Oh, is that a tattoo on my foot?’ euphoria. What’s different this time around? A lot of things. I’ve touched before on the fact that this election could never be the same as 2008. The mania around a true movement culminating in a historic event was not to be duplicated. And of course there’s the fact that I was certainly much less involved this year. But I think what it ultimately comes down to is this: relief is the emotion you feel when there is so much to be lost.
I am relieved that my right to make my own decisions about my own body will not be taken away, nor will my access to contraceptives. That the days of the government telling my friends who they can and can’t marry are increasingly behind us. That the huge strides we have taken in putting our healthcare system on the right track will not be erased. That we will remain a nation that believes that investing in our next generation should be a higher priority than padding the pocketbooks of the very rich. I am relieved that my country will continue to move forward, not backwards.
In some ways I believe that this victory sent an even more important message than the victory in ’08. We proved this year that we, as an American people, will not allow our vote to be bought. Ground game is still more powerful than corporate bribery. We said “no” to the extreme right-wing that has emerged, rejecting hateful rhetoric and made up “facts.” And we said an emphatic no, protecting every contestable Senate seat, including several that were previously written off as lost. We even picked up a few. I hope the GOP takes this election as a cue from the American people that to succeed as a party in today’s America, you must embrace the interests of women. And minorities. And science.
The victories don’t end there. We kept Virginia blue. We proved that 2008 was not a fluke, or a product of the circumstances, but a trend. That the infrastructure that we were so excited to be a part of and help grow remains, a sustainable coalition of engaged community members willing to work for the values they preach. In four states, we rejected the idea that the state has any right to decide who can marry the person they love. And my home state made me proud, becoming the first state in the Nation to be lead by an entirely female delegation.
That is just one of 2012′s many exciting firsts. To the Senate, we elected our first openly gay person, our first Asian-American woman, and our first Buddhist. To the House, our first Hindu and our first openly bisexual representative. Through these decisions, we showed that we elect our leaders based on their vision for this country, not based on their gender, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
Tuesday was a night of many victories. All of this, to me, is what forward truly means.