In general, the election results yesterday were good for Democrats, liberals, and progressives, and bad for conservatives.
- Democrats won the governorships of both New Jersey (unsurprising) and Virginia (a bit more remarkable). Democrats apparently even picked up seats in the VA state legislature;
- In California, Schwartzenegger’s ballot initiatives were defeated;
- And in a very rare referendum victory for gay-rights supporters, the people in my own state of Maine voted to uphold a law to bar discrimination against gays and lesbians.
On the other hand, there were some victories for Republicans yesterday, too. Most notably: in Ohio, all of the ballot initiatives sponsored by reformers failed, with the appeal to reduce the power of the corrupt and scandal-ridden Ohio Republican party apparently falling on deaf ears. This included a sound defeat of efforts to eliminate gerrymandering in Ohio, something that was also soundly defeated in California.
Personally, I hope that Democrats try to build on these first baby steps regarding the question of redistricting, and that they start making a consistent, principled plea to reduce political gerrymandering. It could be part of a broad-based stand against the political status quo, in favor or reform, and in favor of a more responsive and representative democracy.
Finally, in other news… Kansas bravely took a step back toward the good ole’ pre-enlightenment days, when the scientific method was not understood or taught in schools, and when it would have been simply considered “free speech” for schools to teach that Newton’s theory of gravity is “only a theory” – in fact, just one of many equally-likely theories – and that the theory of gravity is quite controversial since it can’t explain every single physical phenomenon we observe.
For some reason, after reading about Kansas this morning these words were echoing in my head (see if you can identify the quote without googling): We are engaged in “a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.”
UPDATE: On the bright side, voters in Dover, PA, decided that they wanted their science teachers to actually teach science. What a thought.
Also, Josh Marshall shares some similar thoughts (to mine) about redistricting.