Victories across the country
"Today’s defeat of Issue 2 is a major victory for working families in Ohio and across the country. Ohio’s working people successfully fought back against lies pushed by shadowy multi-national cor- porations and their anonymous front groups that attempted to scapegoat public service employees and everyone they serve by assaulting collective bargaining rights."
Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO President
Our side won significant victories in three very different states yesterday.
In Maine, back in June, Republican legislators had repealed the state's election-day voter-registration law -- a move consistent with Republican efforts to limit voting rights across the country. Yesterday voters approved Question 1, a referendum initiative to restore same-day registration; votes are still being counted, but the yes vote seems to have been almost 60%. This bodes well for public support against other such anti-voting shenanigans around the country.
Republicans had attacked Question 1 as somehow pro-gay; adding spice to the victory, not only did it pass, but gay-rights advocates took advantage of the high turn-out to gather signatures for a pro- gay-marriage ballot initiative for next year.
In Ohio, voters rejected Republican Governor John Kasich's law limiting collective-bargaining rights for unionized public-sector employees. This vote had been touted as a major test of the power of unions in American politics, and this victory is reassuring that the unions, an important part of the Democratic base, can still get people to the polls -- the turn-out was the highest in 20 years for an Ohio off-year election, and the union-bashing law was defeated by 61%-to-39%. Never forget that the 2010 disaster was not a pendulum-swing back to the right; what happened was a collapse of voter turn-out, from 62.2% in 2008 to 38.2% in 2010. When turn-out is high, we win.
Vice President Biden spoke perhaps more truly than he knew when he called the Ohio vote a "gigantic victory for the middle class". More and more people are waking up to the fact that class warfare is being waged in this country, against the middle and working class, and are able to see what their own class interests are.
Best of all, in Mississippi, voters rejected a particularly vile "personhood amendment" which would have declared a fertilized egg cell to be a legal person -- the latest attack in the Christian Right's war against abortion and contraception. The amendment would have banned abortion, with no exception even for rape victims, and would also have implicitly banned some forms of contraception and in-vitro fertilization. Again the margin was substantial, with the amendment losing by 58%-to-42%.
Even if enacted, the amendment could not actually have gone into effect because of Roe v. Wade. However, this really makes the vote all the more significant. With Roe v. Wade protecting abortion rights, right-wingers often use anti-abortion votes as a way to symbolically express their support for government enforcement of religious taboo, undeterred by the risk of actually having to face the ghastly consequences a true abortion ban would bring. In this case, however, Mississippi voters chose not to do that. (Also, if the amendment had passed, it would likely have gone to the Supreme Court, giving the right-wingers an opportunity to argue for Roe v. Wade to be struck down.)
None of these three states is notably liberal. We'd have expected results like these in, say, Massachusetts; to see them in Mississippi is all the more meaningful.
When turn-out is high, we win. When unions are engaged, we win. When voters are paying attention to what's going on, we win.
Update: A report on LGBT victories is here.