Wendi C. Thomas
The Salem News
---- — They weren’t on the ballot, and they weren’t backed by a super PAC, but the list of Tuesday’s other winners could fill binders. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)
President Barack Obama captured the Electoral College and, albeit barely, the popular vote. But geeks, gals and gays were among those who had reasons to cheer Tuesday.
Here are five victors worth noting.
The M in STEM education — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — thanks to statistician Nate Silver. The 34-year-old economics major and author of the wildly popular blog FiveThirtyEight.com correctly predicted, state by state, how the Electoral College votes would go and proved that nerds rule.
The United States lags behind 51 other countries in teaching science, technology, engineering and math, the fields where the fastest-growing and best-paying jobs will be.
Kids, have you considered a career as a psephologist? (That’s an election scientist.)
Equality. This generation’s civil rights movement scored over hyper-religious, ultraconservative, anti-gay Neanderthals. Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay senator. Ballot initiatives to allow same-sex marriage were approved in Maine, Maryland and Washington state.
Everything you should have learned in eighth grade, also known as civics. Ask how many votes it takes to win the Electoral College, and chances are, you’ll get the right answer. Yes, a Romney-Biden administration was possible.
Susan B. Anthony, Fannie Lou Hamer, the Voting Rights Act, in what states it’s illegal to Instagram your ballot — it’s all now in Americans’ database, mostly because the factoids were Facebooked between the latest cat meme and girls preening in photos shot in bathroom mirrors.
Elections. Hurricane Sandy scattered voters, demolished polling places and forced the East Coast to think outside the ballot box; in New Jersey, voters could email or fax their ballots. The process was a huge mess, and hundreds of votes probably didn’t get counted, but we’ve got until the next congressional elections to fix it.
By 2032, we’ll be able to scrunch our eyes shut, visualize our pick for president, and the big scanners in the cloud will record our thoughts as a vote.
Women. The Senate will have 20 female members, more than ever before. Parity is still a dream, but Tuesday’s gains added five more sets of lady bits to the testicular-dominated dialogue on reproductive rights. Bonus: Richard Mourdock of Indiana (rape + pregnancy = God’s will), Missouri Rep. Todd Akin (legitimate rape) and Illinois’ Rep. Joe Walsh (abortion never saves a woman’s life), all Republicans, lost.
Ultimately, Republicans. The GOP has no choice but to toss its Betamax tapes and switch to a post-Blu-ray format that can attract women, blacks, Latinos, Asians, other ethnic minorities and voters under 40, constituencies who picked Obama. Mitt Romney ruled with older voters, white voters and, not surprisingly, old white voters.
We deserve options, but we have none when third-party candidates are perpetually dissed and when one party has moved so far right, it’s about to turn the bend and come in from the left.
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, conceded as much, saying Republicans “have a period of reflection and recalibration ahead ...”
The voters’ choice is a refudiation (Again, I couldn’t resist.) of the GOP canard that America must be taken back (from whom, they won’t say). More than 47 percent of voters, it seems, care about climate change, energy independence, immigration reform and other issues that Republicans ignored or denied, but Obama promises to tackle in his second term.
Romney’s defeat is the perfect opportunity to use the word schadenfreude, but I’ll resist. (Oops. I just used it.)
Gloating and jokes aside, our nation can’t afford another four years of partisan bickering. America must be “greater than the sum of our individual ambitions,” as Obama said in his acceptance speech.
If America has any chance to “keep the promise of our founders,” Republicans must help build that.
Contact Wendi C. Thomas of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., at email@example.com.