These apparent cultural shifting tides are what most pleases me about this last election, and what give me the most hope going forward.
In Maine, Maryland, and Washington, for the first time anywhere, initiatives to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples were on the ballot. All three passed—a gigantic breakthrough. In a fourth state, Minnesota, voters rejected a ban on gay marriage. This had never happened before, either; what had happened before, thirty-two times, was that such bans were approved, sometimes overwhelmingly. The pro-equality majorities this time were small, between fifty-one and fifty-three per cent, but they were unprecedented. The change is stunning. It’s epochal. And it shows signs of being permanent.
In Colorado and Washington, two of the three states that held referenda on legalizing and regulating marijuana, the “yes” side won by ten points. (In Oregon, “no” prevailed by a like margin.) At the same time, Massachusetts voted to legalize medical weed, joining the sixteen other states, plus D.C., that had already done so. It remains to be seen whether state-level experiments with legal and semi-legal pot will engender a reaction in the medium term, but, for the moment, the direction is clear. Perhaps the Obama Administration will find the courage to begin winding down the drug war as it has wound down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Finally, of course, nativism has proved to be a big, ugly, catastrophic loser for the Republican Party. I’ll skip the details. You already know them. ¡Basta!