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Friday, November 09, 2012


Editorial | Election shows times a-changin'

As the poet once said, “The times they are a-changin.’” If you doubt that, consider the some of the dramatic changes around the country resulting from Tuesday’s election.

• Three states — Maine, Maryland and Washington — approved ballot initiatives authorizing same-sex marriage.

• Voters in a fourth state, Minnesota, rejected a proposal to amend the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and woman.

• Congress is about to get its first openly gay U.S. senator, Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin.

• Voters in two states — Colorado and Washington – approved ballot measures to permit using marijuana without prescriptions or medical reasons.

These changes aren’t all taking place in ultra-liberal enclaves.

In Wisconsin, Ms. Baldwin defeated the conservative frontrunner, Republican Tommy Thompson, a former governor and cabinet member in the George W. Bush administration. Ms. Baldwin, a U.S. representative from Wisconsin, will be replaced in the House by Democrat Mark Pocan, a state legislator who also is openly gay.

People, keep in mind that Wisconsin is the home state of neo-con Paul Ryan, running mate of Mitt Romney, and Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who rammed through a series of unpopular anti-union measures.

Bob Dylan may have written his groundbreaking ballad about changing times in the 1960s, but the words continue to resonate as stunned Republicans try to understand Tuesday’s decisive victory for President Barack Obama to a second term as well as many other election-day surprises.

“Your old road is rapidly agin,’” Dylan said. “Get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand.”

Meanwhile gay rights supporters around the country are celebrating the first time voters have endorsed same-sex marriage at the ballot box. (Kentucky adopted a constitutional amendment in 2004 to ban same-sex marriages.)

And advocates of eased restrictions on marijuana represent an interesting coalition of folks who want to cut jail overcrowding by weeding out minor offenders and boost local revenues by taxing and licensing the drug. Some, convinced of the failure of the decades-long “war on drugs,” believe legalizing and regulating marijuana may be the only effective way to control it.

A mom in one state told public radio she firmly believes it would be harder for her teenage son to get marijuana if sales were regulated.

Mr. Dylan’s best advice, along with a warning, may have been to Washington politicians who face an electorate sick of partisan gridlock.

“Senators, congressmen, please heed the call, don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall,” he wrote. “For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled.”

So watch out, because “the times they are a-changin.’”



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