Pubdate: Thu, 08 Nov 2012
Source: Olympian, The (WA)
Copyright: 2012 The Olympian


Individual American voters overcame natural disasters and persevered 
standing in long lineups for hours this week just to make their 
voices heard, putting the 2012 presidential election into the history books.

Well, almost.

Not all of the votes have been counted here in the state of 
Washington, and the outcome of several key races will depend on 
late-arriving ballots over the next few days. We may not know the 
name of our next governor until tomorrow, or sometime next week.

In our state, history is still in process.

That's because Washington only requires ballots to be postmarked by 8 
p.m. on Election Day, not actually be in the hands of county election 
officers. It is something the 2013 Legislature can and should change 

Not every question posed on the Nov. 6 ballot has been answered, but 
Washingtonians do have some clarity today.

* President Barack Obama will lead an ailing nation through another 
four years with an unchanged congressional composite. The House 
remained in control of a sharply divided majority of Republicans, 
while Democrats added to a slim margin in the Senate.

If the numbers didn't change, Americans can only hope that attitudes will.

For two years, House Republicans made it their No. 1 mission to 
thwart the president at every opportunity, stalling any productive 
action in hopes of pushing Mitt Romney into the White House. It 
didn't work, and it has delayed economic recovery.

Can Republicans reconcile the disparate factions of Libertarians who 
want smaller government and fewer taxes with the party's extreme 
fundamentalists on social issues? If Republicans expect to remain 
relevant in the 21st century - while white, middle-age males slowly 
lose their traditional position of privilege to the browning of 
America - it must examine its views on immigration and women's issues.

But first, House Republicans must show a willingness to work for the 
nation's common good, as Romney cajoled them to do in his concession 
speech Tuesday night.

"The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this 
we can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders 
have to reach across the aisle to do the people's work, and we 
citizens also have to rise to occasion," Romney said, even while 
House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was rattling his sabre.

* Maybe Olympia's Denny Heck can make a difference in Congress as the 
first-ever elected representative from the newly created 10th 
Congressional District.

The Democrat was running well ahead of GOP challenger Dick Muri, as 
he should. Ultra-conservative Muri ran a campaign woefully out of 
touch with the 10th constituency, especially on social issues.

Heck campaigned on the idea that only voters could change the extreme 
partisanship in the other Washington by sending representatives like 
him who will focus on problem solving, not party politics. He's 
right, and now it's a big job ahead of him to deliver on that promise.

* Thurston County voters made history on Election Day by helping to 
pass Referendum 74, giving statewide approval to the state's same-sex 
marriage law.

Washington joined Maine and Maryland among states permitting same-sex 
couples to marry. Thurston voters were overwhelmingly in favor. The 
Washington and Maryland votes are the first to approve of gay 
marriage by a majority of a state's voters, rather than through 
legislative action only.

Having pushed the rock to the top of the hill, it won't be long now 
before other states follow suit, and someday most Americans won't 
think twice about same-sex marriages. Over time, Washington's law 
will demonstrate that yesterday's fears about marriage equality were baseless.

* Washington also made history on another front. Voters approved 
Initiative 502, which decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana for 
people over 21. Voters in Colorado passed a similar measure.

The marijuana initiative is unlikely to create any immediate changes. 
The state law, along with Washington's medical marijuana law, still 
conflicts with the classification of marijuana as a narcotic under 
federal statutes. Until the feds reclassify marijuana, the regulated 
growing, distributing and selling of pot will not occur freely.

The real value of I-502 lies in furthering the national conversation 
about prohibition of a substance proven less harmful than alcohol, 
and the violent criminal activity resulting from its ban. Tuesday's 
vote was a progressive step on a long road toward acceptance.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom