What a night.

I’ll have a full post about this later today, but the success of the marriage equality ballot measures in Maryland, Washington, and Maine and the rejection of the anti-gay measure in Minnesota means that historians may look upon this election as a historical milestone as significant as the election of the first African-American to the presidency 4 years ago. On top of that, you have Obama’s reelection, the significant move of the Senate to the left, a host of interesting ballot measures, and the rejection of white supremacy by the American populace. All very interesting.

Let’s get to some specifics and good links. First, in case you haven’t read enough summaries of why all this matters, Michael Cohen has a real nice piece up at the Guardian.

Amanda Marcotte writes that the nation rejected the Republican War on Women. And indeed she’s right. I’ll only add that it was much more than that. The Republicans declared war not only on women but also on people of color as well as the queer community. Voters rejected that agenda. Women not only elected Obama but they elected each other to lead the rejuvenated Democratic Party. Tammy Baldwin. Elizabeth Warren. Mazie Hirono. Heidi Heitkamp. Tammy Duckworth. These are exciting politicians to go along with Amy Klouchbar, Debbie Stabenow and other impressive women taking leadership roles in the progressive wing of the party.

But again, it’s not just women rallying to defend themselves. Dave Zirin reminds us that Sergio Romo’s awesome World Series parade shirt pretty much sums up much of the Latino community’s response to the Republican War on Brown People. Republicans attack on voting rights seems to have motivated the African-American community even more than they already were. Obama absolutely crushed Romney among Asians. And the young, also victims of Republican voting rights restrictions and barriers on college campuses, again supported the president. I was very pleased that Obama made a point in his speech last night that it was wrong that people have to wait so long to vote and that we needed to do something about that. Of course, voting is generally state-controlled, but national leadership for voting standards could really help. Finally, for the first time in history, the Democratic Party’s House delegation is not majority white male. It’s about time.

The Senate also moved significantly to the left. Republicans moved 2 seats to the right. Crazy Ted Cruz replaced Kay Bailey Hutchison and Deb Fischer won Ben Nelson’s seat. Every other seat that changed hands moved left. Some of these are obvious–Elizabeth Warren beating Scott Brown for instance. But Tammy Baldwin is well to the left of Herb Kohl. Tim Kaine is kind of lame but he’s better than Jim Webb. Joe Donnelly is definitely not my kind of Democrat but he’s to the left of Dick Lugar. Heidi Heitkamp is to the left of Kent Conrad. Martin Heinrich will be to the left of Jeff Bingaman. Chris Murphy is to the left of Joe Lieberman. Mazie Hirono keeps Akaka’s seat very liberal. Angus King is to the left of Olympia Snowe. Etc. DW-Nominate scores for the 112th Congress shows Conrad as 29th most liberal senator, Bingaman 34th, Kohl 37th, Lieberman 46th, Webb 50th. Their replacements will probably be better down the line.

And let’s not forget the states. California finally showed a little bit of sanity, passing a tax hike to save the state’s schools. Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana. The passage of gay marriage. The rejection of a lot of awful millionaire-funded craziness on ballot measures across the country. Not everything was perfect. Particularly sad was Michigan rejecting placing collective bargaining guarantees in the state constitution. But still, overall this was a positive night at the state level.

Importantly for progressives needing to learn some lessons about how change takes place in this country, many of these ballot measures show that grassroots organizing works. The gay rights movement and marijuana legalization are social movements creating unstoppable forces for change on the grassroots. They are organizing on the ground and then demanding and successfully creating social change. This is how you do it.

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