Given the choice between solving a problem and watching things get nasty, the tendency in America is increasingly to opt for the train wreck. Last night's election results were no exception.
The GOP is racing to the bottom of its own depravity. They've stopped at nothing, floating racist memes and lies and distorting facts to achieve goals that are so blatantly pro-business and anti-American as to be laughable -- if it weren't for the fact that their message-making, via Fox News and talk radio, seems to find a home in the hearts and minds of many Americans.
Maine was a huge disappointment last night. Social equality is a progressive goal, and the advent of same-sex marriage is a huge step in the right direction for a democratic society such as the United States of America. Last night a ballot-box effort to overturn same-sex marriage legislation won. Similar ballot initiatives pushed by right-wing, often homophobic activists trafficking in ignorance, fear, hate, intolerance have passed in too many other states. Popular opinion here is driven in large part by a lowest common denominator: ignorant fear. This same factor is a crucial part of what makes conservative media so successful: the careful deployment of social issues designed to pray on fear and the half-understood morality preached in America's evangelical circles.
Make no mistake. Yesterday's vote on same-sex marriage in Maine was a referendum on our collective humanity, and we don't look so great today.
Last week in the <em>New York Times, Marc Mutty, chairman of Stand for Marriage Maine, which led the repeal effort, called the vote "a defining moment." He then went on to parallel same-sex marriage with a spreading fungi and-or nuclear holocaust: "What happens here in Maine is going to have a mushrooming effect on the issue at large."
The bigotry and hate that drives the tea-baggers and birthers seeped once again beyond the confines of familial cesspits into the national arena and the result was a blow for equality.
That said, was it a loss for Obama? Certainly not. He is opposed to same-sex marriage.
So what about Virginia? Is that a huge loss? Arguably. Independents who chose Obama this time opted for Bob McDonnell over the ostensible Democrat, Obama-dissing, awshuckser Creigh Deeds. It's possible, I suppose, to say that Obama lost here, but off-year elections are all about turnout, and Deeds did not have the turn-out machine Obama did. Virginia traditionally patterns against the party in power and this race was no exception. Deeds did a less than stellar job against McDonnell, he didn't tilt progressive enough, students and people of color didn't show up, and he lost.
The same cannot be said about Jon Corzine, but here we are talking about an unpopular governor. While the mainstream media blahbittyblahs about a Obama-backlash sweep because it sounds, well, so dramatic, the fact of the matter is that Jon Corzine lost in New Jersey, not Obama. Maybe he should have worn his seat belt. Maybe he should have been more effective as a governor. Perhaps the crucible of Goldman Sachs was no match for down-and-dirty New Jersey politics.
I say, let the Republicans read a lot into these so-called successes. Keep going farther right. Two races are plenty to decide that you're on the right track. Let Limbaugh and Glenn Beck continue to set the line on issues, and we'll continue to run better campaigns about issues that promise to make the country and more civil and humane society, with more effective laws that help people improve their lives and a level playing field so all its citizens can get where they want to go.
And by the way, in the one race that really mattered yesterday, the GOP lost.