Just when I want to pull my hair out over the ridiculous and enraging things that go down in this country, something else happens that makes me want to cheer and high-five my fellow countrymen.
On Tuesday, elections were held in the U.S. Three states, Maryland, Maine and Washington, voted to legalize same-sex marriage. In Wisconsin and Minnesota, proposed constitutional amendments banning gay marriage were defeated.
Same-sex marriage referendums, either for or against gay marriage, have come before the American people on 32 previous occasions. All 32 times, Americans voted to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
Until Tuesday, that is, when the exact opposite happened.
Cups hand over ear. What's that I hear? The winds of change?
But that's not all. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin became the first openly gay person elected to Senate.
Mazie Hirono of Hawaii became the first Buddhist representative. Tulsi Gabbard, also of Hawaii, became the first Hindu representative.
Ladda Tammy Duckworth became the first Asian American woman elected to congress and the first congresswoman born in Thailand. Also, she is disabled. She lost her legs while serving in the Iraq war.
And of course, Barack Obama, the first African American president of the United States, soundly defeated Romney to win a second term. A large percentage of key votes for Obama came from the 24 million voter-eligible Latinos in the country.
The reaction to the election was predictably strong. There was both joy and disappointment. On the cringe-worthy end of the spectrum, sharp messages of hate, including racial epiteths, were spewed on Twitter and other social media forums, many of which quickly went viral as they were roundly chastised by tens of thousands of readers (note to haters: you can delete in the morning, but screenshots are forever).
Actually, Donald, Obama won the popular vote too, by over
3 million votes. Perhaps you're thinking of Bush in 2000?
Many conservatives swore to leave socialist, gay-loving America behind and move to Canada, the UK or Australia, though if they follow through they may be disappointed to find that all of them are decidedly more socialist and/or gay-loving than the U.S. (to find a more socially conservative country, look to the Middle East).
Kristen Neel: prompting facepalms from
Australians, Americans, and Kristins everywhere.
Just hours after the election, conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly lamented that “It's not a traditional America anymore. The white establishment is now the minority.”
Yes and yes.
This election marks an historic shift in our country.
America is made up of a collection of minority groups. If a political party systematically ignores or insults a number of those minority groups, it can no longer win an election.
If you characterize minorities as welfare grabbers, make cavalier comments about rape or act as if your religion is the only religion that matters, the voters will reject you because you do not represent the majority.
If you take women, blacks, Hispanics and gays and put them together in a big pot (and hmmm, let's call that pot America), that's a huge consortium of voters. The only candidates that can truly represent America are the candidates which recognize and respect these groups.
I have always been a little put-off by the flag waving and 'God bless America' crowd. I consider myself a citizen of the world first, and an American second. I don't believe any one country is better than another. But let me tell you, on Tuesday, I was proud to be an American.
P.S. Though, to be perfectly honest, I'm a bit disappointed I didn't think to promise that I was moving to Australia if Obama won.