Mid Terms are Over. What Does America Look Like Now?

Overall, a Good Night for Democrats. But Something for Everyone and Risks Everywhere.

Goodness knows the airways are full of post elections analysis. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t need to read another article about the 5/10/20 important lessons of Tuesday night.

We have only had a few hours or so to absorb the electoral results. Too much is in the mix to deal with in one post, anyway. But I had a cautionary note at the end of this post, referring back to something I said in a post some months ago. That warning moved into reality less than 24 hours after the polls closed, so I am repeating it in this post.

Before getting to the cautionary element of events, let’s look at the key benchmarks that define what happens going forward. Much of the second order impacts and decisions yet to be made will reveal themselves in due course. They will be important, too, but need to marinate in the body politic.

In some ways, the title of today’s blog post is misleading (hopefully, that will not be the case for the actual content!).  I say that, given the prospects of recounts, last minute absentee ballots, thousands of provisional ballots, and likely court cases, the midterms will not really be over for quite a while. Most should be settled by the end of the calendar year, but some contests may still be unsettled when the new Congress is sworn in.

It is not necessary to dwell too long on the obvious big wins/losses for Democrats and Republicans – other sites are doing that nicely. But a short recap is instructive:

  • Spin it how you will, the Democrats had an impressive day. They gained control of the US House of Representatives by a comfortable margin, with more seats likely on the way. This has countless significant impacts. At last, we may see a modicum of constitutional functioning by one house of Congress.
  • Over 100 women (113 as of this writing, likely more to come) joining the US Congress out of this single election (not all are Democrats, but almost all are). Over a dozen military veterans also join the Congress, most of them Democrats as well. The average age of a member of the US Congress lowered by quite a bit this week as well. New barriers were broken with representatives who are Native American, Muslim, gay, the first females in such wins in their states – Americans, all. These are benchmarks to be celebrated, regardless of party.
  • Seven governorships went over to the Democrats, important for lots of reasons, not the least of which is the next round of redistricting. Two Republicans lost out as governors – one incumbent (Walker, Wisconsin), one aspiring (Kobach, Oklahoma) that are especially satisfying to see join the ranks of the unemployed. The Democrats were actually rooting for Kobach to win his primary. They were right. A good majority had been watching him for quite a while and had decided there was not much to like in this fellow.
  • A number of state legislatures went Democratic, either one house or both. Some others saw the end of what had been veto proof Republican majorities.
  • Record turnouts of youth and minority voters, the vast majority of whom voted Democratic. The Democrats got millions more votes than Republicans in races nationwide. Gerrymandering distorted the results – again.

There was bad news for Democrats as well:

High visibility contests all ended up short but tantalizing close in contests unimaginable just a few years ago. Beto in Texas, Gillam in Florida, and possibly Abrams in Georgia (pending a recount decision). These were all remarkable campaigns to watch. A new base is planted and growing in these states.

What they do with all this now will be an important story, one way or the other. The Abrams contest is the most disturbing. In any other administration, the US Department of Justice would already be investigating the Georgia Secretary of State’s conduct on multiple issues. This feels like a stolen race.

The Republicans have some things to cheer about as well, although some of what they won may prove to be damning in the long run. 

  • The Texas Senate race should have been a cakewalk. It was a squeaker. The good news for Republicans: they kept the seat, and Trump seems to have helped. The bad news: they still have Ted Cruz in their ranks, a singularly unlikable and ineffective legislator.
  • They defeated the most vulnerable Democrats in the Senate, adding to their margin. This enables them to continue filling the courts as they wish. One could hope that they will take more care now and select better nominees, but there is no reason to expect that. They also kept some very important governorships they could well have lost (Ohio, Florida)
  • The blue wave was not as large as it might have been, but it took a toll on Republicans across the land. A majority of Americans made it clear that they do not accept the xenophobia and racism that is the Republican party today.
  • The worse news for the Republicans on this point is that this profile of who they are is not viewable any longer as some sort of anomaly. This is clearly Trump’s party now and these traits are cooked into the DNA. It is also increasingly a rural, under educated, reactionary party. This is not good for anyone, the country included. For many, all this outweighs any other ideology or policy. It’s a formula for an ever-shrinking party.
  • The Republicans hung on to a couple of House seats they may well have lost. I would submit that is bad news for them. Having Steve King of Iowa and Duncan Hunter of California as standard bearers for your party is a mark of shame.Neither are worthy of public trust and represent much of what has gone awry in the Republican party. Yet, the party “leadership” will censure neither of them. The courts are likely to handle Hunter for them.

In other matters, three more states voted to expand Medicare under the Affordable Care Act and a fourth will do so according to their new governor. That makes 33 states now enrolled. Some states decided that they wanted nonpartisan commissions doing redistricting, not their legislatures. May this idea spread far and wide.

Sensible marijuana legislation was passed in 3 of 4 contesting states. Of the many ballot initiatives at play for this round, it appears a mixed bag is the result. We should talk sometime about ballot initiatives. So much potential for good and bad.

We will talk shortly about what happens next and what the Democrats and the Republicans (congressional and local – less so the White House) have before them in the way of opportunities and risks.

An important footnote: This note was almost an afterthought as I was drafting this post. Then I saw Trump’s press conference on Wednesday (the most bizarre thing I have ever seen from a White House podium) and saw the announcement about the attorney general. This note is now even  more time sensitive than I foresaw:

I noted in a post last Summer (https://agentsofreason.com/welcome-to-the-jungle-america-and-a-farewell-note/) that the period between this election and the swearing in of the new Congress would be an exceptionally dangerous time for the country with Donald Trump in office. That is clearly the case now, even more so, in fact. Let’s pay attention. Some very high stakes are about to be put on the table.

Who will answer history’s call?

Bill Clontz, Founder, Agents of Reason     Bill Clontz

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