Obama’s reelection feels more impactful than I expected. I can’t quite put my finger as to why, but I have a few theories.
First off, Republicans were quietly confident that Obama was a one term president. They garnered momentum coming out of the midterm elections and immediately employed an obstructionist agenda to effectively stall government until the presidential election. Four more years of Obama now invalidates this tact as pointless.
Second there were many progressive victories outside of the White House. Republicans lost 2 seats in the Senate. Tea Party candidates struggled. And most importantly, ballot measures came out strongly for gay marriage and the legalization of recreational marijuana. These victories, large and small, show a much stronger progressive movement than I really expected.
Finally, in 2008 there was an underlying argument that Obama was only elected because he is black and that the electorate would correct itself once the historical novelty wore off. The novelty did wear off and Obama is still president. People voted for the president’s views and policies, not to make history. That’s a more potent mandate than the president ever had in his first election.
Before this election, the pervasive narrative was one of a vulnerable Democratic Party symbolized by Obama. Last nights election bucked that narrative to embolden the President, his agenda, and an underlying progressive movement.