There are a couple things on the 2012 ballot that carried a lot of weight for me. Both the presidential election and Washington State's Referendum 74 legalizing same sex marriage were personally significant.
First and foremost, it's important for me to get this out on the table... I believe that our political system is a broken one. From the capitalism and lobbyists that fiscally drive our elections, to the Electoral College equating two candidates only campaigning in swing states, to the unwavering need for candidates to appeal to the masses, both candidates can appear the same person on paper. It becomes easy as an American to feel disenfranchised when the idea of casting a ballot gets brought up.
With that being said, I believe that Barack Obama was a far better candidate for the job. Is he perfect? Absolutely not. This is American politics and it will be sometime before we can realistically elect a candidate that is not bound by the two party bi-partisan gridlock that rules Washington today. Although I voted Obama, I am excited for the future voice of independent candidates and what another party could mean in terms of affecting actual change in congress and re-creating our American political reality. I don't think this is too far off.
But on Tuesday night I rejoiced as I watched the better person prevail. Prevail? No. Let's call it what it was... He whooped Mitt Romney's ass.
I've noticed that mainstream media always does a great job of making the polls really close leading up to the election. Every swing state is neck and neck and it could go either way depending on who kisses the most babies the day of. Once again, I fell into the Kentucky Derby politico rhetoric and was sweating it bouncing back and forth between CNN and Fox a week leading up to the big day. I watched the "experts" with anxiety as different scenarios played out via touchscreen maps of swing states shifting back and forth between hypothetical blues and reds. But sure enough, around 10 p.m. eastern time I got the barrage of text messages from friends and family declaring victory, signifying that Barack Obama would serve another four years as president of the United States.
What was inspiring, is the amount of young people that came out to vote this year. There was such a massive movement of fired up young voters for Obama in 2008, I assumed that it would taper off four years later. This year the hype around November 6 felt different. You didn't see every rapper rocking an Obama T-shirt, or Shepard Fairey "Hope" bumper stickers plastered on every vertical surface of civilization. The pulse according to my political radar felt weakened and my pessimistic side was slightly afraid the youth attention span had moved onto other issues, or whatever 'cause' might be circulating on Tumblr. But no. The youth came out once again and were a huge contributing factor to the landslide that occurred on Tuesday. Obama also got the Latino vote by a staggering 45-point lead, which was crucial in defeating Romney in designated swing states. If they hope to ever regain control of the White House the GOP should probably reconsider their stance on immigration before 2016.
As I watched massive five-hour lines in Florida and the stories of faulty voting booths throughout the day I had the suspicion that the Republicans were cheating and were somehow going to rig their way into the White House. But once key swing states began coming through it was clear that my only question was what can Obama do with four more years?
Referendum 74 was personal. Technically it allows same sex couples to be legally married in Washington State. And while that was on the ballot in Washington, Maine, Minnesota, and Maryland, for me it became far bigger than just marriage. It became a vote for the progression of human equality in my own community. These referendums passing have now set the pace for a new and more tolerant America. One that is rooted in compassion and understanding over blind fear and social intolerance. One that is open minded to change and evolution and less caught in the semantics of the past. I believe that for the newest informed generation of Americans, this is the biggest civil rights issue we have seen play out. For Washington State to be at the forefront of that change is exciting beyond words. I watched people from both parties mobilize around what they believe to be right: The fair and equal treatment of humanity. Witnessing gay rights becoming actual legislation, and not just a cause, re-instills my faith in the human condition to progress within a system.
For those that don't know, I wrote a song about the issue of gay rights and homophobia back in April called "Same Love." With the help of my producer Ryan Lewis and the gorgeous voice of Mary Lambert that song took life and we released it in July. Out of all the unbelievable opportunities my job has afforded me, the most fulfilling experience has been around this particular piece of music.
We're on tour now, and to see sold out rooms of youth in historically conservative places like Missoula, Montana, Boise, Idaho, and Houston, Texas singing a song about gay rights at the top of their lungs... well... it is one of the most unbelievable things I've ever experienced at a Hip Hop show (sure, I might be biased). But I believe that the song is just echoing what's already being felt in the world. There is a desire to learn from past generations and evolve from the fear our society has been stagnant in. People are becoming better at life. Love is truly motivating the masses in a way that I have never experienced in my 29 years on this planet. For all the things to get depressed about revolving around politics and the social climate of America, I would say that the seven days have been the most uplifted and inspired I have ever felt. There is without question a long way to go, and many more crucial battles to fight against the injustice saturating the world.
But on Tuesday, there was a major battle won on the side of humanity. As the fight must continue, it's equally important to take a moment, appreciate the victory and realize how far we've come.