The Significance of November 4th

posted by Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins

Wednesday, November 5, 2008, at

Last night America, true to tradition, jolted itself from the destructive path of the last eight years onto a new course. An African-American candidate with a simple message of unity and change won even the state of Virginia, seat of the Confederacy. It was a remarkable and resounding statement for diversity, innovation and a new direction for our country.

The evening held significance for Californians and residents of the South Bay on other levels as well. California was divided in fascinating ways, supporting the ethical treatment of animals while approving a Constitutional amendment that codifies bigotry. We rejected an attempt to scale back the right to choose, while approving a change in how Senate and Assembly district lines are drawn. In Santa Clara County, voters overwhelmingly approved critical funding for Valley Medical Center, while rejecting additional funding to bring BART to our area.

Each of these decisions, to some segment of our community, is as important as the election of Barack Obama was to our country. The passage of Prop 8 is a heavy blow to same-sex couples and advocates. The passage of Measure A is a sigh of relief to doctors and patients at Valley Medical Center. In every election, every contest, a few have a major stake in its outcome - but many, or most, have at least some. The success of Barack Obama is that principle writ large: Obama succeeded, in large part, because he made millions of Americans, many who'd never voted before, understand the major stakes of his candidacy.

Over the course of the next few days, the Working Partnerships blog will host a number of community leaders and experts who will share what stakes they and their communities held in the various items on last night's ballot. We'll look at what the results mean, and how winners and losers will move forward toward the goals they seek.

In any election, not everyone emerges happy with the result. But that our nation and our communities are able to reasonably discuss and decide on issues around which there is so much passion is a testament to the uniqueness of our nation, and our general willingness to put the common interest first.



Blogger sventura said...

Great comments and great work on the election. As a comment I'll share an edited version of a letter I sent to our IBEW 332 volunteers:

All in all it was a great election for us and we deserve to pat ourselves on the back and for just a moment bask in the warmth of victory. My prediction is that the Obama victory will bring challenges for us as he’ll struggle not only with a Senate which has filibuster power, but from a Democratic Party which will be divided by the interests of its constituents. The far left and the far right in the Party(the Reagan Democrats) will come out demanding immediate action and the competing interests will be a strong challenge for Obama’s staff and his vision.

We were able to convince our members to vote for Obama not just because of the economy, the ineptness of Bush Jr, and the shameful actions of the Republican Party, but more importantly, I think, because of Obama’s message of one nation of multiple interests, but one nation nonetheless. I know these words were sincere but another way to look at it was that his total expressed views played to the center, whether it was left of center or right of center. When he deviates from that imaginary center and the perception is that he’s not being all inclusive he will have much difficulty from the people who crossed over to vote for him. He’ll have even greater difficulty from those of us who are passionate about our interests and will look to him to further those interests.

But I think the election campaign has proven he is a man built with a stable foundation and a strong rudder so it’s my sincere hope that he will continue to be the leader he has been these last 20+ months. It will mean that we may not agree with him on every issue and every appointment but we need to intelligently pick our fights. And always let him know what we think in a constructive way.

Thanks for your help………………….Sal

November 06, 2008 6:33 PM  
Blogger Leona said...

It is important that we take a moment to rejoice in our new President-elect. So many worked so hard for so long to make this happen and we can all be grateful to our extraordinary country that four years ago saw George W. Bush remain president and now has "seen the great light" and has chosen Barack Obama to lead us into what can truly be a brighter future.

However, as Phaedera so rightly points out, our election has been a very mixed bag. And now, we learn today that our State, which only last year was preparing to cover all people for health care, starting with children, is now ready to propose that 160,000 children go on a waiting list by June of 2009 for Healthy Families -- for want of $17 Million in state general funds! At this time when so many are losing their jobs and homes, we simply cannot allow our state's children to also go without basic health care. There are creative solutions that can be found and together we need to find them.
Leona Butler

November 07, 2008 11:34 AM  

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