Can Sanders' campaign connect the dots on racial justice and economic inequality?
Tuesday night was a great night for progressives. President Obama, who didn't always govern as a progressive (and on some issues, like civil liberties, drones, the coup in Honduras, and the bank bailout, never governed as a progressive), ran decisively as a progressive, pulling off a surprisingly big margin of victory in the Electoral College and won the popular vote, as well.
His campaign themes were about ending wars, preserving Medicare and Social Security for our seniors, and defending the Affordable Care Act and the right of people not to be denied coverage if they have a preexisting condition. He talked about helping kids out of poverty by making college more affordable and building "sturdy ladders" to the middle class, fighting for good manufacturing jobs, making the rich pay their fair share of taxes, supporting the right to choose, upholding gay rights, and battling the entrenched interests in Washington whose only concern is to cater to the most well off.
As he said the day before the election, "The folks at the very top: They don't need another champion in Washington." Mitt Romney was their champion. He was the candidate of the 1 percent. This was a victory for the 99 percent.
And it was a progressive victory across the country.
In the most historic race, Tammy Baldwin became not only the first woman to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate but the first openly gay member of that elite club. She did it by knocking off Tommy Thompson, a titan in the Badger State, by painting him as someone who represented the drug companies, the health care companies, and the oil companies, and not the middle class. He tried to paint her as "too extreme for Wisconsin," but it didn't work. She's a proud progressive, an incredibly decent, intelligent, and principled person, and the more people saw her, the more they liked her. She was on a normal career path, having served in the state assembly and then 14 years in the House of Representatives before running for the Senate. He was on one last ego trip, and he treated her with contempt, which was not a winning strategy.
In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren, the champion of consumers and the nemesis of Wall Street, took down Scott Brown by sticking to her populist guns.
In Ohio, the great progressive Sherrod Brown was able to withstand an avalanche of dirty money and dirty ads from Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers.
And in Missouri and Indiana, the troglodyte Republicans, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, lost because of their coldhearted view that a woman must bring to term the offspring of the rapist who impregnated her.
That happens to be Paul Ryan's position, too, and while pundits are giving him the inside lane for 2016, this one stance alone will deprive him of ever getting to the White House.
Tuesday night also affirmed how far the country has moved in a progressive direction on gay marriage.
Maine, Maryland, and Washington voted to allow same-sex marriage, and Minnesota voted down a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited it.
On immigration, Romney took it on the chin because of his hostile stance, especially during the primaries. Latinos went to Obama by about 70-30, and they accounted for 10 percent of the electorate, a number that is on the rise.
"Romney self-deported from the White House," said Latina Republican analyst Ana Navarro on CNN last night, warning that if the party doesn't don't do better with Latinos and the issue of immigration in the future, it's toast.
Young people returned to Obama in droves.
African Americans again gave him upwards of 95 percent of their votes.
Combined, this is a governing progressive majority: Latinos, blacks, women, young people, liberals, the non-wealthy.
Obama should resist his characteristic temptation -- and the urging of the pundits -- to "reach across the aisle."
Instead, he should thank this coalition that once again put him in the Oval Office by governing as a progressive through and through this time.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Sandy: Chronicle of a Storm Foretold."
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.
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