Nov 09 2012

Weekly Digest – 11/09/12

Our weekly edition is a nationally syndicated one-hour digest of the best of our daily coverage.

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This week on Uprising:

* What Obama’s Win Means for Social and Political Movements
* Democrats Win Big in Senate; Republicans Retain House Via Redistricting
* Same-Sex Marriage Wins Across US Signal Major Shift

* * *

What Obama’s Win Means for Social and Political Movements

Ninety three percent of African American voters, 71% of Latino voters, 73% of Asian voters, and 55% percent of women voters, chose Barack Obama as their President on Tuesday, handing him reelection to a second term. After a first term of intransigent opposition from the Republican party and policies that disappointed many on the left, the electorate selected the President over an increasingly reactionary opposition party and a candidate whose fluid stances on issues alienated many. Significantly, Mitt Romney lost despite getting 59 percent of the white vote, indicating the weakening of that demographic’s voting power amidst a more multi-racial voting public.

Conservative New York Times writer Thomas Friedman in his column this past week attributed the GOP’s loss to their shift to the radical right. He said, “The Republican Party today needs to have a real heart-to-heart with itself. The G.O.P. has lost two presidential elections in a row because it forced its candidate to run so far to the loony right to get through the primaries, dominated by its ultraconservative base, that he could not get close enough back to the center to carry the national election.”

A majority of women voters picked Obama, suggesting that women’s issues may also play into future Republican strategizing.

Although all this may indicate a possible opening for Obama’s policies over the next four years and a potential softening of his rivals’ obstructionism, the Republican Party and its pundits have indicated they will continue to fight Obama on key issues. Obama will immediately have to negotiate what has been called the “fiscal cliff,” $600 billion of spending cuts and tax increases that will be put in place at the end of 2012. Many believe these austerity measures will cripple an already staggering US economy.

House Speaker John Boehner who Obama will have to negotiate with did not indicate any softening of Republican opposition right after election night. On Wednesday he reasserted the Republican position of remaining firm against tax increases on the wealthy. However, in a press briefing on Thursday, Boehner conceded that he would be open to a broad deal that included revenue sources.

GUESTS: Roberto Lovato is a writer whose work has appeared in the Associated Press, the Nation Magazine, New America Media, Los Angeles Times and other outlets, Eric Mann, long time local activist in Los Angeles, host of Voices from the Frontline, and author of Playbook for Progressives

Democrats Win Big in Senate; Republicans Retain House Via Redistricting

Congressional races concluded on Election Day reflecting the nation’s political divide in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Thirty three of the 100 Senate seats were up for grabs. Democrats have 53 seats in the Senate, while Republicans have 45 seats. In House races, Democrats were able to gain 6 seats with a new total of 192. Republicans retained their control of the House with a total of 233 seats. In fact, they lost only one House seat from their 2010 total.

Progressive favorite Elizabeth Warren beat out Republican incumbent Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts, returning a Democrat to the seat long held by Edward Kennedy. Tim Kaine was able to best George Allen in the Virginia Senate race that broke spending records, topping $80 million.

Controversial conservative Senators Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana were both defeated after making comments about abortion and rape; Mourdock’s seat was won by Democrat Joe Donnelly while Akin lost to Claire McCaskill. Also in the Senate, Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay Senator, and Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono became the first Asian American woman elected to the Senate. North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, who was considered a long shot, won a tight race on Tuesday defeating Republican Rick Berg. Women overall made major gains in the Senate, now comprising nearly a record 20% in the chamber.

Independent Senate candidate Angus King won a contested seat in Maine, joining Bernie Sanders to become one of only two Independents in the Senate.

In the House of Representatives, Tammy Duckworth defeated Tea Party candidate Joe Walsh by 55 percent. Walsh was criticized for remarking that abortion is never necessary to save a woman’s life. Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran who lost both of her legs in combat. Meanwhile Tea Party member Michelle Bachmann was able to slimly retain her seat in Minnesota. Several House races remain too close to call and some appear headed for a recount.

GUEST: John Nichols, associate editor of the Capitol Times in Madison, Wisconsin and a correspondent for The Nation magazine, contributing writer for The Progressive, co-founder of Free Press, author of many books including his latest called Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street

Same-Sex Marriage Wins Across US Signal Major Shift

The LGBT community and its supporters have much to celebrate after voters took to the polls on Tuesday and passed a number of initiatives legalizing same-sex marriage. Voters in three states, Maine, Maryland, and Washington opted to recognize same-sex marriage at the state level. In Minnesota voters rejected amending the state constitution to redefine marriage to exist exclusively between men and women. Now a total of nine states and the District of Columbia legally honor gay marriage. This election’s unprecedented results are expected to boost the national fight for same-sex marriage.

However, the victories this week come after decades of struggle and outreach. In the last 20 years, 32 states have attempted to legalize same sex marriage, but most of those attempts have been unsuccessful. In fact, much effort has been expended in beating back right-wing Christian efforts to ban gay marriage. Earlier this year, North Carolina, in its primary elections, voted to approve a ban on same sex marriage. And, California’s high-profile Proposition 8, which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman, was passed by voters in 2008, and has put a stop to gay marriages in this state, pending an on-going court case.

While states have been tackling the issue of gay marriage, the federal government’s Department of Justice had previously defended the constitutionality of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) against court challenges. DOMA is the federal law that prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages. Under President Obama, the DOJ has found parts of DOMA to be unconstitutional, and at Obama’s request, Attorney General Holder has stated he would no longer defend those parts of the federal law in court. The DOJ released a statement last year criticizing DOMA as violating the equal protections provision of the 5th Amendment.

A recent poll revealed that 5% of voters in the 2012 election identified as gay. The LGBT community turnout for Obama was overwhelming – 77% of LGBT voters voted for Obama, compared to 23% for Mitt Romney.

GUEST: Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom To Marry, one of the organizations on the forefront of the fight for marriage equality – they spent upwards of $7 million dollars across the four states where marriage equality was on the ballot in 2012.

Visit www.freedomtomarry.org for more information.

Sonali’s Subversive Thought for the Day

“In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme.” — Aristotle

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