What Did We Learn Yesterday?

What an election.

While I know that there may be many who are stunned this morning, I have to say I am not surprised. This vote went almost exactly the way I assumed it would. As you can see here. (I am surprised by FLA, however…)

So, what did we learn?

1) Trust Nate Silver, not Pundits:
Not gonna gloat about this. But just remember, Silver also correctly called Republican gains in the last midterms. He’s interested in the math, not partisanship. He will tell anybody when he thinks they are going to lose.

Trust Nate. Ignore the spin of pundits, left and right.

2) Karl Rove was wrong. Very wrong.
Just sayin’

3) Generally, the same coalition that elected Obama still believes in him.
While he lost a few anglo votes, it wasn’t a whole-scale abandonment by whites.
And the rest of his coalition held steady.
Yes, the election was close. But he’ll end up winning by more than 2,600,000 votes. That’s a four times larger margin than Bush v. Gore.
He’ll end up with 330 electoral votes.
Republicans have lost the popular vote in the last five of six elections.
Meditate on that last fact for a while this morning.

4) Voters knew what they were doing.
You can’t argue that voters were charmed by rhetoric, or snookered by personality, this time. Given how bad the economy has been, it’s impossible to argue that. You also can’t voters weren’t paying attention.
Obama voters voted for his policies and his view of what the government is supposed to be.

5) This election is really even bigger than Clinton’s two wins.
Remember, Clinton was deeply helped –twice– by a Dallasite named Ross Perot. Perot siphoned off 18 percent of the vote the first time, and almost nine the second Clinton election.
Obama’s wins have no such “asterisks” next to them.

6) If you didn’t think Obama could win, then you forgot he was a “Community Organizer.”
Remember that term? Didn’t hear it much this time, did you? You can tease him all you want about it, but community organizers know how to turn out vote. And this leads me to my favorite point…

7) Now and then, “Community Organizers” beat the One Percent.
Can I tell you what makes me happiest this morning? To know that Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers are tearing their hair out and smashing hotel rooms. OK, probably not. But it gives me pleasure to imagine they are.

BILLIONS of dollars of “dark money” were funneled into this race. Eighty percent of this went to Republican candidates. Voters were inundated with TV ads…horrible things said about both candidates.

But: people beat money. 

Friends, that’s awesome. Truly awesome.

6) America is changing.
This is the biggest point. So let me write the most about it…

Ben Smith just said it best on TV a minute ago: Most smart Republicans know you cannot win by counting on larger and larger margins of a smaller and smaller universe. As I said above, Karl Rove’s model was wrong.

You see this in several key ways, not only in the coalition that elected the President, but also  in the fact that four women were elected in Senate. (maybe five)

But America is changing in two other key ways that I’ve been watching, as a pastor:
Latinos supported Obama by 70 percent.
Four states affirmed gay marriage.

That means, if my math is right, more than ten percent of American states have now approved gay marriage.

America is changing, demographically. And it’s not changing back. We learned this in Dallas County in 2004. I’ve been telling any friends who will listen since then that this would happen nationally too. And while this election was close? If you stuck these policies, candidates, and parties into a time machine that zips eight years into the future? The margins would have been even HIGHER.

As a pastor, I am so happy to see the demographics on both immigration and gay marriage. My prayer (And, yes, I am praying on these things) is that we’ll get real Immigration Reform in our nation, and that we’ll see real change on Gay Marriage too.

The church is chicken. I have said this for years. It does not lead on social issues like Immigration and Gay Rights. I wish it did, but it does not. The Church pays attention to where the culture is going. Traditional conservative Christians may recoil at this last sentence.
But it you look at social change over time (everything from slavery to sufferage) it seems to be provable.

So, as we said in the United Methodist Church at the last General Conference: “All means all.”

God calls us to reach out to immigrants, LGBT persons, women, men, the poor, people of all colors and creeds.

And my faith tells me that, this morning, Spirit of God is moving through the people. Please hear…I am not saying “God elected Barack Obama.”

I am saying that embracing immigrants and supporting Gay Rights are calls of God on our nation and I believe that the elections provides tangible proof of this spiritual movement.
(I have said these things for years..)

America is changing.

Both the church and our politicians should take careful note.

So, I look forward to the conversations/politics of the next four years….

As somebody who loves the armchair quarterbacking of politics…
But even more as a pastor who cares about these key social issues, and how they affect God’s children.

 (As always, if you like this post, then “share it” or “like” it on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too…) 

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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