I've already done a couple of election post-mortems. Here are a set of quick thoughts:
1. California could be the future
In the seventies, California began the modern anti-tax movement with the passage of Proposition 13, a proposition that made it incredibly difficult to raise taxes–only a referenda or a supermajority of state legislators can pass taxes. As a result of the proposition California's educational system (particularly its post-secondary system) went from being one of the best in the country to one of the worst, it has increasingly spent more and more of its revenues incarcerating citizens rather than educating them.
In this election California elected a supermajority of democratic legislators. And passed at least one referendum increasing taxes. For the first time in a generation the anti-tax forces lost, decisively. This signals a growing desire to increase taxes for the purpose of rebuilding infrastructure and transforming our broken educational system.
I mentioned the incarceration issue. One of the few government responsibilities Californians actually supported was incarceration. And a LOT of it–the draconian three strikes legislation passed in the nineties sent thousands of felons to jail for life for minor (third) infractions. This deserves a much longer post of its own, but in the 2012 election, California rolled back the three strikes legislation. It's still there, but henceforth that third strike has to be a serious infraction–before, individuals were sent to jail for life for a third strike of stealing a pizza. Michelle Alexander argued that the only way to combat the prison industrial complex was through a mass movement. Maybe another way is possible.
2. Where does the Tea Party go from here?
The only way the Republican Party can be competitive at the presidential level going forward is by taking America's demographic shift seriously. And this means not only seriously rethinking their strategy of only going after white voters symbolically, this should also mean rethinking their policy approach. Where does this leave the base? I'd pay increasing attention to the white heartland vote. If they aren't able to deal with their political anxiety at the polls, they'll do so in another way.
3. The two unmentioned words in the 2012 campaign.
Climate change. For the first time since 1988 no presidential debate dealt with climate change, even as we see its effects. Just five years ago we were arguing that something like Katrina could only happen in a black city and to a black population. The Sandy/Noreaster combo has hit NYC hard. Thousands upon thousands are without power and are literally stranded. If there was one issue that could plausibly bring together everyone regardless of their background, it's this issue. I'm surprised no one's jumped on it. Surprisingly enough we talked about race and racism more than we talked about climate change.