Former MoveOn.org organizer Tom Mazzie summarizes this moment far better than I'm capable of right now.
What Obama's Win MeansThanks to all of you who helped create this moment. We have done an amazing thing -- and secured our own place in history. Be proud.
Lincoln's reelection meant the union was worth fighting for. Franklin
Roosevelt's was a rejection of Hoover's conservatism. Kennedy marked a
new era in politics. Reagan marked the ascendancy of the conservative
But what does the election of Barack Obama mean?
Books and doctoral thesis will be written on the topic. Conferences
will be held at Harvard that are covered by C-SPAN. But here is a list
to think about.
1. Justice is righteous. The first and most obvious meaning is that if
you screw up the country in such a catastrophic way that hurts
people's lives the country will rise up and kick your ass out of
2. America has changed. A new governing progressive majority has
emerged. It is made up of young and old, rich and poor, white and
people of color. Cities united with suburbs. AMERICA elected Obama.
Not swing white voters in southeastern Ohio or single women in the
suburbs of Philadelphia. This majority was made up of everybody. This
point will get lost since there is no constituency group for
3. Young people can change the world. Even while no one group owns the
victory it is clear that young people played an historic role in this
win. A new generation will be inspired to change the world.
4. The movement will grow. Thousands of organizers have been trained
and instilled with confidence. They will spin off and help organize
social movements in their own communities. Some will run for
office--and maybe one will become a community organizer and someday
run for president.
5. Progressive ideas are what Americans want. We went into the
election with an alignment between progressives on the Left and more
centrist voters. On the big issues--Iraq, the economy, energy and
health care. Left and center agree. The war will end. Things will
6. The Internet dominates. The Internet has replaced the mainstream
media finally as the dominant source of news information and
fact-checking. Thank god because the mainstream media is getting cut
to pieces. HuffingtonPost has created a mega-force--it is now among
the top most visited news websites on the Internet. You can't lie to
the public and get away with it. The "series of tubes" will get you.
7. Politics can be sexy. John McCain didn't inspire artists like
Shepard Fairey and Will.I.Am. These artists made the Obama-McCain
matchup into a fight between McGrumpy and Jay-Z. Easy choice.
8. The 1960s are over. As Andrew Sullivan wrote, the fights of the
1960s over hippies and cultural populism are losing their potency. The
Right has lost their ability to hijack our politics--for now.
9. People power can make a difference. Volunteers can make a
difference. I heard a story about a field organizer in part of
Colorado with a universe of 38,000 voters to turn out--and 1,500
volunteers. An amazing coverage of one volunteer for 25 voters.
10. We can be inspired. A message about Hope, Progress and Change can
lift us up and appeal to our better angels. As Barack Obama says, "One
voice can change the world."
But "meaning" is a big term. So let the debate begin. Add what Obama's
win means for you in the comments.
On a personal note, Obama's win and the gains in the House and Senate
is the culmination of long and hard fight for me as an organizer. I've
spent the last 8 years battling the Republicans and the far Right with
MoveOn.org and others. Finally, I can unclench the fists and put my
hands to work changing the world. That is a personal meaning. I look
forward to it.