First, I’m very happy that Barack Obama won the Presidential election. This was the first time since 1996 that I’ve actually liked a candidate for the office. While I did vote for Al Gore and John Kerry, their main qualifications in my mind were that they weren’t George W. Bush, whose policies and leadership style bothered me as soon as he stepped into the ring in the 2000 primaries. It was very nice to have someone I could vote for this year, and not just someone to vote against — and even nicer to see him win.
Second, John McCain gave an astonishingly gracious concession speech. Where was this guy during the campaign? Or during the last two years? This was more like the McCain I voted for in the 2000 primary.
Believe it or not, I think it’s a good thing that the Democrats didn’t pick up that filibuster-proof 60th Senate seat. One of the worst problems with the current administration is the way that a single party just rammed their policies through over all opposition during the time that both houses of Congress and the Presidency were controlled by the same party — and it cost them in the 2006 mid-term elections and in this election. With luck, Obama’s victory speech [edit: linked to the wrong article*.] will set the tone for a somewhat more cooperative government. At the very least, it was a nice change from the sort of “We won, now f— off” attitude that I remember from Bush, Cheney, and Republican supporters in 2004. (Personally I think 53% to 46% in the popular vote is still relatively close, but 4 years ago we were told that 51% to 49% was a “mandate” to do whatever the hell they wanted with the office.)
I’m disappointed to see that California voted to ban same-sex marriage. Gee, too bad about the 18,000 marriages you just invalidated in the name of “protecting” marriage. On the plus side, the margin for Proposition 8 was a lot smaller (52% to 48%) than the last time the state voted on the issue (Proposition 22 in 2001, which won 61% to 38%), and younger voters polled as overwhelmingly rejecting it. This implies that CA society is, over time, coming to the conclusion that maybe it isn’t such a threat after all.
Also worth noting: Prop 4, the parental-notification requirement for abortion, is trailing 52% to 48%, the same spread as Prop 8. Since I’m sure proponents will try again in a few years, these numbers should forestall any grousing about how the people have already made their will clear when someone floats the idea of amending the state constitution to remove a discriminatory clause a few years from now.
*When I first posted this, I accidentally linked to the article on the transition team instead of the speech transcript. The URLs were very similar: 11/04/obama.transcript vs. 11/05/obama.transition.