The Obama Tide

obama-surge.gifby Carl Matthes –

The tide didn’t seem very strong when reports from the first closed polls were broadcast in Los Angeles from back East, late Tuesday afternoon, November 4. True, the previous night, there was the slightest of ripples when results from tiny New Hampshire towns, which historically vote Republican, gave Obama a winning tally.

The wind and tide surge began to pickup through Tuesday as reports of hugh voter turnout were broadcast. But, that wasn’t good enough for me. I wanted hurricane force winds teamed with a tsunami – and – I wanted Obama’s victory to happen like, right now! No waiting. No fingernail biting. No other shoe to drop. Just immediate and stomping success. Give those Republicans what they have so thoroughly earned – a good whupping!

A few more hours ticked by and finally, with the announcement that California had gone for Obama, the waves crested and Barack was named our 44th President-elect

Then the magic hour arrived, Barack’s victory speech from Chicago. It was preceded from Phoenix by McCain’s clear message of concession, congratulations, support and belief in the democratic process. In his defeat, the true hero who had come home from Vietnam many years ago, re-emerged

Barack’s acceptance speech was beautiful. Simple, direct, clear, inclusive, hopeful, cautionary, in a word, perfect. Obama, the candidate and Obama the President-elect, were the same person, true to himself and his ideals. And our nation is uniting behind Barack’s visionary message. A message which the country had been responding during the almost two years of the Presidential campaign.

In our own backyard, Barack carried California with the biggest victory in modern state history, smashing the record set in 1964 by Lyndon B. Johnson. Coattail hopes did not materialize; no California Republican member of Congress was defeated. Chicken/animal and teen-age abortion rights were confirmed but not gay rights. Even bastions of 21st century religious conservatism, such as Riverside and San Bernardino counties, trended towards Barack. There, and in the other key electoral counties, including the most populous ones, Democrats performed better than their registration levels: Los Angeles County Obama by 40 points; San Francisco by 70 points.

Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment to take away the right of same-sex couples to marry, was successful with about 52% of the vote. But even that, thanks to the tremendous Obama tide, was a big change from the 2000 Presidential election victory of Proposition 22, which limited marriage as being between only a man and a woman. That proposition passed with 62% of the vote.

This was a victory by and for all of us.

Those of us who heard Representative Xavier Becerra at the Northeast Democratic Club meeting prior to the election, were given an optimistic, but sophisticated analysis of what to expect from this election, both nationally and locally. I think he was right on the money. We learned that Republicans are still the masters of election fear, and fear, triggered by religion, race or gay men and lesbians, triumphed over hope in some parts of our country. But in the end, the nation’s most Liberal United States Senator, Barack Obama, prevailed.

In Barack’s victory, I feel so many common sense, middle-of-the-road options (and, by that I mean Liberal and Progressive options) are now on the table. For instance, “all are created equal,” is not a left or right agenda item, it is a middle-of-the-road position mandated by the Constitution. As Barack pointed out in his victory speech, his victory lifts everyone – “…young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled…”

But, all will not be smooth sailing even with the Democrats in control of the presidency and both houses of Congress. For, even in the shifted political winds of 2006 and 2008, as Xavier warned us, Democrats from red states are not the same as Democrats from blue states. And, even some blue state Democrats are not the same as those from the bluest of blue districts such as his Congressional District 31.

carl-matthes.jpgI see the biggest benefit for this nation from this election is the ascendancy of Barack Obama to the presidency. The shift of the Senate and the House of Representatives to a larger Democrat majority is also important. Hopefully, following, if necessary, will be Supreme Court nominees who may balance the appointments of Scalia, Alito and Roberts. Sensible economic recovery initiatives and extraction from Iraq/Afghanistan/War on Terror are now viable options. And certainly the list of needs includes healthcare, education, infrastructure, global warming, etc., etc., etc.

Daunting tasks and high expectations. Very high.

And, no doubt after Barack gets things moving, and with the tide riding high, he’ll have time to show all of us how to walk on water.

Carl Matthes

Articles by Carl Matthes:

Published by the LA Progressive on November 12, 2008
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About Carl Matthes

Carl Matthes is a native of Los Angeles and has lived in Eagle Rock for 45 years. He is the current president of UGLA, Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance, a grassroots organization in Northeast Los Angeles which provides a support system for gay men and lesbians and education for individuals and the community-at-large on the true nature of homosexuality. He is a former columnist and a current advisor to the Lesbian News, the oldest lesbian publication in America, which is owned and published by his sister, Ella. He was editor of the GLAAD/LA (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) newsletter, a former GLAAD National Board member and served as a GLAAD/LA representative on the LGBT/LAPD Advisory Board. Carl has also been a Board member of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

In July, 2008, Carl was legally married to Carl Johnson, his partner of 45 years, by Los Angels City Councilmember Jose Huizar. It was a unique gay/lesbian double ceremony as Carl's sister Ella and her partner Gladi were also married by Jose.