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Nothing Has Changed, Everything Has Changed

Betsy Ross sewing the flag for George Washington by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

Betsy Ross Sewing the Flag for George Washington, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

It’s over! The seemingly endless campaign has ended! As soon as it became clear that Obama would be back in the White House for four more years, it also became evident that he’d be facing essentially the same Congress and certainly the same major players. But while much remains the same, a lot has changed. And some of the changes are remarkable.

Two states, Colorado and Washington, astonished the other forty-eight by voting to decriminalize marijuana. It’s clear that the vote puts those states in conflict with the federal government, but we have no idea what it does to those currently imprisoned for previously illegal pot possession.

And two other states, Maine and Maryland, voted to legalize gay marriage —  a decision which had never before come from the popular vote but only from legislatures or the courts.

A few months ago, Democrats seemed positioned to lose up to six seats in the Senate; instead, they added two. And Tammy Baldwin became not only the first woman senator from Wisconsin, but the first openly lesbian to be elected to the Senate. We haven’t tracked each of them down, but according to the Victory Fund, which supports gay and lesbian candidates, at least 118 gay or lesbian candidates won their races.

All in all, it was a good election cycle for women. There will now be more women in the Senate than ever before. Indeed, New Hampshire will have a woman governor and its entire Congressional delegation will be composed of women.

More Notes


Tim Carmody, in his excellent piece, "How Haiti Became Poor", notes that President Trump's racist policies and vulgar language have sullied the word "shithole" which used to be one of the all-time great swear words. He's right. It's another terrible power this careless President wields.