Yesterday’s US presidential election and confirmation of a second term for President Obama marked a series of unprecedented landmarks for human rights and progressive values.
With President Obama’s defeat of Governor Mitt Romney, millions of US voters repudiated an extreme version of an ideology that prioritizes profits over people and that threatened to implement policies that would gut basic social services that so many depend on. Yet, the fight for economic justice will continue under President Obama’s second term. MADRE will remain vocal about the need for policies that uphold basic economic rights. With Obama’s victory secured, now is the time to raise the issues that Obama has been silent about throughout his campaign–including how to meaningfully address climate change, end the drone war in Pakistan, and uphold civil liberties at home and abroad.
Meanwhile, the 113th Congress will include a record number of women senators at 20, or one in five. While this is still far from representing women’s proportion in the population, it is a significant step forward for US women’s political participation. Across the board, voters rejected the many candidates who, throughout the election, diminished and dismissed the severity of rape, the reality and consequences of which women around the world face every day.
Progressive measures took significant steps forward in this election. Three states made history by legalizing same-sex marriage via ballot initiative for the first time. Two states legalized the recreational use of marijuana, dealing a serious blow to the racist and unjust “war on drugs.”
We must commit to our work as never before, to build upon the opportunities this election presents and to hold US policymakers accountable in achieving real and lasting progressive change.
Despite the wins of last night, California did not end its use of the death penalty. The war in Afghanistan is not over, and for millions of people in Iraq and Afghanistan, the impacts of US wars will live on for generations. Civilians in places like Pakistan are not safe from US drone warfare. The so-called “war on terror” continues to be used to justify human rights violations, in the US and abroad. The US still has not ratified CEDAW, the central UN treaty on women’s rights. The struggle for equality and women’s human rights worldwide continues.
Our work to demand human rights worldwide, in partnership with grassroots women, will drive us today, through President Obama’s second term, and into the future. MADRE is ready to move forward, hand in hand with you and with our many allies in the movement for global justice.