I Know What You Did Last Night: Race and the Elections

By Tammy Johnson Nov 04, 2009

Election results are still rolling in as I write this blog entry. As I read the returns, I can’t help but think about the old Will Rogers’ quote. No, not the one about belonging to an unorganized party. But this one: "Elections are a good deal like marriages. There’s no accounting for anyone’s taste. Every time we see a bridegroom we wonder why she ever picked him, and it’s the same with public officials." A year ago, many were making merry at the post-election nuptials of now President Barack Obama. Well now the kool-aid isn’t the only thing that’s red. Last night the Republicans pulled out a big red marker and added Virginia and New Jersey Governships to their ranks. And in a faded pink blot, New York City Mayor Bloomberg’s $100 million dollar personal investment narrowly sealed his re-election bid. At this point it looks like the Dems have secured two congressional seats. Bill Owens will be the first Democrat to hold the 23rd Congressional District seat in Upstate New York since the Civil War. And for now, California Democratic Lt. Gov. John Garamendi leads with 57% of reporting precincts for the 10th Congressional Seat. Let’s not forget about the mayoral contests in Pittsburg, Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, and Detroit. Speaking of marriage, what will happen to same-sex marriage in Maine after their ballot box battle? And will Washington State secure formal legal protections and rights for same-sex couples? In keeping with the whole marriage theme, let’s pretend that we’re the wedding party having a few smokes and margaritas at the reception. It’s a dirty game but we all play it: revisiting the courtship, gossiping about the pre-wedding hissy fits, and taking bets on the divorce date. And questions abound. What happen to the mighty Black-Latino-Asian-young-old-everybody-in-Obama Hope Coalition? Is there a hidden lesson about race and the elections here, particularly in the South? ARC’s new elections curriculum, Changing the Race, has plenty to say about that. Were people, particularly people of color, actually able to vote? With the unjust targeting of ACORN, there is a mounting concern about right wing attempts to further disenfranchise the poor and communities of color. What role did that play on Tuesday? And what is anyone doing about it? With all the fuss about how rightwing can you be in the Upstate New York race, all people seem to be talking about is the fate of the Republican Party. But does this pull politics in general further right? And what does that mean for the issues we care about like health care, education and immigration? How will that affect communities of color? Maine certainly isn’t California but what have we learned, if anything, about race and same-sex ballot initiatives since last November? You got something to say about race and Tuesday’s election? Well light my cigar, pass the tequila and let’s hear it.