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What yesterday's victory meant

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I don't think the election was a victory for conservative Democrats or liberal Democrats. It was a victory for Democrats across the board, and a repudiation of Republicans and conservativism.

Conservative Dems, like Bob Casey in PA, won. Conservative Dems like Harold Ford in TN lost. Liberal Dems like Sherrod Brown in OH won. Liberal Dems like Ned Lamont in CT lost. There was no absolute pattern, in my view, as to liberal Dems winning or losing or conservative Dems winning or losing. Democrats ran a variety of candidates, from left to right, and some won and some didn't. And that's the way it should be. I don't think you can win by only running conservative candidates (good luck in SF), or only running liberal candidates (good luck in much of the south). You need to run a bit of a rainbow, and that makes sense - America isn't left or right, at least not exclusively.

Having said that, think about Angie Paccione (D-CO), who got 43% of the vote in Colorado as compared to her Republican opponent, Marilyn Musgrave, who got 46%. Now, pay attention to who these two women are. Paccione is openly in favor of gay marriage. Musgrave is the religious right's top ally in the House, the author of the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment to the US Constitution. The race was in conservative Colorado. Yet, what happened? Paccione, the lady in favor of gay marriage, got seriously close to unseating Musgrave, the religious right bat from hell.

Let me repeat that. A Democrat openly in favor of gay marriage almost won in the heart of religious right America against the #1 religious right poster girl. That not only shows the diversity of Democratic candidates running, but it also shows the acceptance of diversity that exists even in the heart of conservative America. America is not black and white, red or blue. And I don't think our party should be either.

Now, that doesn't mean that I'm not going to push for Democrats to adopt positions that I hold dear. I will. And sometimes I'll agree with conservative Dems, and a lot of times I'll agree with liberal Dems. But my point is that Democrats won yesterday - not liberal Dems, not conservative Dems, but Dems.

The rather liberal Nancy Pelosi will be the next House Speaker. The rather conservative Harry Reid will be the next Senate Majority Leader. We are now a party that truly represents the diversity of America. And just as Harry Reid as Minority Leader is a mainstream Democrat, Nancy Pelosi as Speaker will be a mainstream Democrat. And let anyone, liberal or conservative, claim otherwise.

And one final point. I've gotten a few emails from some readers who think that, because some conservative Dems were elected along with liberal Dems, perhaps this victory wasn't worth winning. Well, let me tell you what this victory now means:

1. It's much harder, if not impossible, for Republicans to further repeal habeas corpus and do other nasty things like even bring up for a vote federal constitutional amendments taking away the rights of entire classes of citizens. The Democrats now control what comes to the floor of the House and Senate - and what doesn't. That's the power to control the agenda. That's power we haven't had for 12 years.

2. The Democrats now have a national platform to criticize Republican excess and incompetence, and to promote their ideas and agenda and key players. We didn't have that in the minority. Now we do.

3. Subpoenas, baby. Subpoenas.

4. Passage of the 9/11 Commission recommendations, increase in the minimum wage, no privatization of social security, and so much more.

5. The Democratic majority has to approve of Bush's far-right, Constitution-hating, theocracy-loving Supreme Court nominations.

There's more. Much more. So don't even dare tell me that this victory wasn't worth winning. We just got our country back, and proved to an entire generation, and the world, that the American dream is still alive.

A bit later I'll give my thoughts on what this defeat means for Republicans, and particularly conservatives and the religious right.

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