Pins And Needles

To subscribers who received these introductory paragraphs  yesterday–accidental “pre-post.”  Sorry.

I will be honest–the last several weeks have been painful. Initially, I devoured political news and punditry, but for the past couple of weeks, I’ve even avoided most of the news–including financial updates and coverage of the sort of policy debates that usually engages nerds like yours truly.

Because–let’s be candid–what difference will any of it make if we lose our chance to build the America I’ve inhabited mentally for these many years.

I don’t want to hear from the nay-sayers and holier-than-thou-ers who will predictably lecture me on the multiple ways in which America the Country has routinely failed to live up to the America of my goals and aspirations. I know that history–but even at its worst, it hardly justifies handing the country over to the drooling haters, know-nothings, QAnon believers and (perhaps worst of all) the otherwise “nice” people who never bothered to learn about or follow government and politics and so mindlessly continue to cast their ballots (if they bother to do so) for a GOP that no longer exists.

All this is by way of explaining the dread leading up to an “after the votes are counted” post. Of course, votes are still being counted…

So–as of today, what do we know?

Well, for one thing, we know that the predicted “Red Wave” failed to materialize. (Unfortunately, so did the Blue Tsunami I was hoping for, but that was admittedly a pie in the sky hope.) Virtually all the headlines I saw yesterday focused on the failure of the GOP to make the gains they’d confidently predicted.

Red Wave? Nah–pink puddle.

Paul Ogden really nailed it in his comment yesterday. After detailing the headwinds Democrats faced, he wrote “I can’t begin to tell you how historic yesterday’s election was.  It’s never happened before where the party in power does so well in  a mid-term despite horrible numbers going into the election.”

Robert Hubbell echoed that conclusion in his daily newsletter, writing that preventing the anticipated Red Wave was “no small thing.” Democrats battled gerrymandering, “a slew of voter suppression laws, inflation at a 40-year high, a sustained disinformation campaign against democracy, and low presidential favorability ratings. Despite all that, they made a strong showing that should give Republicans pause for the next two years.”

What should give Republicans pause and what will give Republicans pause, of course, are two very different things. That said, the pundits who confidently predicted that concerns about inflation would overwhelm fury about abortion were proven wrong– at least according to exit polls. Voters reported that the two issues were fairly even motivators. (Hmm…a temporary rise in the price of eggs versus loss of a fundamental right to personal autonomy…sure, those seem roughly equivalent. Not.)

In the five states where abortion rights were on the ballot, voters massively supported those rights. Even in Kentucky!

Here in my deep Red state of Indiana, the election denying, sexual assaulting, incompetent (and arguably criminal) candidate with an R next to his name won his election for Secretary of State, and will be in charge of the election in 2024 if he hasn’t been arrested before that. (In non-urban areas of Indiana, it takes more than stupidity and criminal behavior to defeat a Republican.Even in suburbs that are slowly turning purple, regressive culture-war candidates for Congress and school boards eked out depressing wins.)

In urban areas of the state, however, sanity mostly prevailed. Indianapolis’ incumbent Prosecutor won handily, and we re-elected our highly competent, legislatively-skilled and all-around nice guy Congressman, Andre Carson. In Northwest Indiana, where Republicans had mounted a challenge to the first-term Democratic Congressman, the Democrat prevailed.

What is abundantly clear is that America is conducting something approximating a civil war between Blue cities and the Red states in which they are located.

The bottom line–if there is such a line–seems to be that neither party delivered a knock-out punch. Those of us who want to elect candidates who are actually interested in governing–on addressing the thorny policy issues we face at the local, state and federal levels–will have to contend with at least two years of gridlock (at best) and sustained culture war  waged by would-be autocrats(at worst).

The good news is: we lived to fight another day…


  1. Thanks! I needed a dose of sanity because I wasn’t wise enough to spend the last two weeks watching I Love Lucy reruns😢. At nearly 76, I really thought my fighting days could be moth balled, but clearly, as long as the unaware can be led by the greedy and authoritarian whose goal is power and money for themselves, wrestlers must continue to battle while training the new generation of idealistic warriors in whom I sense indignation and determination. God bless them and give them endurance! Much depends upon them!

  2. Professor-your closing statement profoundly describes my feelings: “we do live to fight another day.” I am disgusted with the billions of dollars we spent on this election. With that money, we could have erased poverty, eliminated hunger and homelessness and built the greatest educational system in the world. We desperately need to re-think this business model. And, yes, I participate in that horrible business model, i.e. political contributions and I am ashamed of my self.

  3. The only R’s applauding D’s (independents really) are those wanting to rid their party of Trumpism, which was mostly rejected across the nation except for those deep southern trances which reside in rural Indiana – the vote R no matter who, crowd. 😉

    Biden said he would gladly work with Rs after the election. When asked in what direction he would change by a reporter, Joe answered, “Nothing!”

    The oligarchy won another election, and neither oligarchy-controlled political party will do anything to change the imbalance of power and greed. Only outside influences will hold the US oligarchy accountable.

    Keep an eye on Saudi Arabia and China. 😉

  4. Not as a nay-sayer but as a disappointed, confused and still frightened 100% American I need to ask; with no Red Wave but what appears to be a loss in the House and looming loss of the Senate, does it make a difference if it is a loss by 200 or by 2 elected officials? The media focusing on the failure of the GOP to make the gains they predicted; they did make gains which will begin in about 6 weeks with only President Biden’s ability to veto what they have planned for us. Will it be Lindsey Graham or Ron Johnson replacing Nancy Pelosi; we know we are doomed to Mitch McConnell if we loose the Senate. Looking to the future with Trump hovering over us like that anvil over a cartoon character; what do we do NOW?

    “The bottom line–if there is such a line–seems to be that neither party delivered a knock-out punch.”

    But, it is us who are on the mat with the referee over us counting…the days left to to prevent counting us out.

  5. One thing we should all celebrate is that, unlike our earlier civil war, this war is being fought in courtrooms, voting booths and online instead of across bloody battlefields. The biggest loss of life has been the thousands of preventable Covid deaths due to MAGA lies. Ironically, most of those who believed the lies would probably have voted red.

  6. Yeah, the Democrats had a fantastic night given all they were up against. They should be celebrating. I think pretty much they all are, except the people commenting on Sheila’s blog!

    House: There is going to be such a small R margin, they are going to be limited on how crazy they can get. McCarthy might not even be able to be Speaker. Now the next D presidential nominee has a foil to run against. The do nothing House controlled by Republicans.

    Senate: I think the most likely outcome is a 50-50 Senate with Ds controlling due to the VP.

    Abortion proved to be a great issue in driving Democratic turnout. But I don’t think it proved to be a great issue in getting independent and cross-over Republican vote. Anti abortion candidates won all the country. Look at GOP performance in Florida and Nevada. Heck, you don’t even have to look that far. Look at Indiana. Indiana passed an extreme anti-abortion bill, so extreme it pretty much outlaws abortion in the state. Did Republicans pay a price at the polls? No. I think Republicans actually gained seats in the legislature and easily won all the statewide offices. But, regardless, as someone who thinks the democratic process should have decided this issue, and not the courts, I am not the least bit bothered when the pro-choice side wins at the polls. That’s how we decide issues in this country. It’s an ugly, but cathartic process.

    The one consistent factor I saw in the election results is that election deniers and those who embraced Donald Trump closely were rejected all across the country by voters. It looks like Biden’s “democracy is on the ballot” argument actually worked. As much as I hoped it would, I didn’t believe it would. I was wrong and couldn’t be happier!

    Instead of having to climb a hill to win majorities in 2024, the Democrats are already standing near the top of the hill. Trump has been roundly defeated at the polls – yet again. Again, Democrats should be celebrating.

  7. We live to see another day and live to fight another battle, is how I’m looking at it, Professor.
    I won 276 votes from my tiny town of Rs up here in Northern Indiana.
    I conside that progress from a place where Dems are considered evil baby killers, who want to give freebies to illegals and lazy people.
    But I was also impressed with the number of young ppl who supported me and town workers who saw only a hard working granny who wants to reach across to all parties and keep Middlebury clean, safe, and affordable.
    Yesterday I was bummed but today I am emboldened, especially after reading your insights, Sheila.
    Thank you.
    And on to the next election!

  8. I think we should all ask ourselves: WWMD?

    How would the grim reaper known as Mitch McConnell take such a ‘win’ for Republicans?

    My guess is he sure as hell wouldn’t be celebrating. That’s giving vent to emotions which McConnell doesn’t do.

  9. Please excuse my huge mea culpa regarding Nancy Pelosi’s replacement in the House. I find it impossible not to paint all current Republicans with the same brush; they are the “enemy of the state” whatever position they hold and they operate on a “high crimes and misdemeanors” party foundation.

    Thank you!

  10. Did Democrats “win” or Republicans lose? Will this (finally) wake up both “liberals” and “leftists” of the need to organize, organize, organize and work – cooperatively – with: “both ands” – rather than remaining divided and basically lazy – spouting “truths” – but doing nothing about them – as we were after Obama and Biden were elected?

  11. Predictions: First, if Republicans win the Senate, Manchin and Sinema can kiss their beloved filibuster goodbye. Mitch will change that rule in a heartbeat, because the Republicans will all fall in line and do whatever is asked. Second, if Republicans win the House, if you thought the Benghazi hearings were a waste of time and money, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! We may even see a hearing or two about Biden’s dog. Hunter Biden should get ready. He might just be another kid, using his dad’s position to get favors from other countries (can you spell Ivanka, Jarrod, Eric and Don Jr.?), but he will be subjected to the most venal accusations ever suffered by a relative of any previous big guy.

    But, hey Dems, great job not getting steamrolled!

  12. I wholeheartedly embrace Paul Ogden’s comment that the Democrats had a pretty decent night given the circumstances. I tend to always view the glass as half full and not half empty.
    I gained that sense of optimism from watching democrat candidate Matt McNally who ran a wonderful, yet unsuccessful, campaign against Jerry Torr for the House District 39 seat in Carmel. As Matt said just after the polls closed on election night, “regardless of the outcome…we believe in bettering our community;…we are just building something; we are just getting started….If it doesn’t work out, we still did some good and we are just going to keep doing good.” (With an estimated 99% of the vote counted, Matt just trailed Torr by 1,325 votes, 52.4% of the votes to Matt’s 47.6%.) Viewing the results of this particular House race, one can sense that this once predominately red district has now taken on a deepening purple tone which is rapidly moving toward blue and will continue to do so. Borrowing from the field of medicine, “when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.” Change is coming!
    Yes, we live to fight another day.

  13. Many states showed a kind of blue mini-wave for down-ballot candidates. THAT is a big deal. In Colorado, the egregious Lauren Boebert may lose a very close election for her seat to a mild-mannered, moderate Democrat. The message being delivered, nonetheless, is that rational people are sick and tired of the fear, hate and vituperations of the so-called Christian Nationalists like Boebert.

    The Colorado GOP is now wondering what went wrong and why their darling candidates didn’t win across the state. Again, it seems that their agenda has nothing to do with what the people who think and vote consider good representation. The state GOP chairwoman said something like, “Well, we ran on crime and inflation and it didn’t work.” DUH.

    BTW, the other significant evil troll in Congress is Kevin McCarthy. We have yet to see how that black, tiny brain of his in fetid action. If he becomes speaker, he will do his best to seek revenge on any Democrat and Liz Cheney he can…just as his mob boss in Florida wants him to.

  14. After reading Paul Ogden’s post, I repeat what I said, the only people celebrating yesterday’s elections are Republicans who lost their party to Trumpism and have used independents to pry it back.

    Nothing else changes.

    Abortion rights will still depend on where you live, like the right to inhale THC from cannabis. This means further voting with your feet – migration from state to state.

    We cannot sustain this macro and micro inequality status.

  15. Professor Kennedy, I, too, spent the last two weeks avoiding written work and televised work about the election. Pamela, I didn’t watch I Love Lucy, but I can quote dialogue from Friends. My blood pressure couldn’t take it and neither could my mental health. We DID live to fight another day-it may not be actual combat, but it is a battle anyway. I find myself heartened by the results of this elections even if the counting goes on.

  16. Love this celebrating…let’s see:

    – Election deniers: 4 elected as secretaries of state (2 more still in contention); 7 elected as Governors (3 more still in contention), 10 US Senators elected (3 more still in contention).

    – DeSantaclaus wins big and uses his gerrymandering to take the whole state Red and sets himself up for ’24 as the MAGA who gets things done

    Clap, clap, clap for the future of our country

  17. We are left with one ongoing experiment to determine how human minds steeped in American culture work—Warnock vs Walker. Sincerity and responsibility versus saying anything you are told to as long as you can do anything that you want to. Governance as considered leadership versus voting as blind followership.

    Perhaps to up his game Walker will now be told to say that any act of contraception kills a potential human being. It is inherently an act of depriving a potential human being of the right to life. Let God alone decide every pregnancy.

    If that is what they tell him to say, he will. As long as he doesn’t have to behave accordingly. That’s what MAGA Red is about. Say what you have to, do what you want to. Pretend to serve others as long as you can serve only yourself.

  18. David Stippler; I certainly hope Paul Ogden’s “Democrats had a decent night” will save the Social Security, Social Security Disability, Medicare, Medicaid and the few dollars in food stamps remaining. There are millions of us who paid into funds for every minute of every work day our entire working lives; we are getting a return on our investment and the government is keeping its promise to return that money to us. Last year the Indiana Republican Senate cut the amount of our Public Employee Retirees retirement funds we also paid into; in this red state the majority of the 45,000 retirees are probably old Republicans who kept their asses in office.

  19. 159 election deniers elected and counting….

    The loudest GOPers in the House will get their mics turned up – MTG, Gym Jordan, etc.

    Witch hunts will begin for the Bidens, Fauci, Mayorkas….

    Watch what the DEMs give up to raise the debt ceiling…

    And, if Biden doesn’t announce soon that he isn’t running in ’24, the “new generation DEMs” won’t have enough time to gear up…

    Take your party hats off and get back on your knees.

  20. Looking ahead, and assuming Democrats hold the Senate and lose the House, I think Wall Street will not allow Republicans in the House to spend their waking hours going after Democrats – bad for business – and that any impeachment votes that run the gauntlet will not result in Senate conviction. Herr Murdoch has now quietly but openly abandoned Trump for DeSantis, and sans the Goebbelspeak Trump usually enjoys via Tucker propaganda I think it entirely possible that the Liz-Ike faction freed of Tucker (and still smarting of Trump’s endorsements of unqualified candidates in the 2022 election) will go to war with the Trump faction, all of which augurs well for Democrats in 2024.

    Many Republicans who voted for their winning candidates intended to send such winners to Washington to govern, not to coddle their sainted leader’s narcissistic delusions and criminal provclivities, but their intentions are hampered by a party which has no platform or set of governing principles other than tax cuts for their contributors and the acquisition and employment of power.

    If my conclusions and analyses are accurate or nearly so, I look for a Democratic sweep in 2024.

  21. What you haven’t heard about (and might not) as it is not “exciting” like Governors, Senator, Congress, state houses…the probable extensive success of Steve Bannon’s MAGA “precinct strategy” – at down ballot offices, especially school boards and election official. The media ignores it and so do the DEMs. It is like an internal infection slowly eating away at our democracy.

  22. Not yet mentioned above, but important: the recent elections will not affect the angry, bigoted, white-“christian”-nationalist, armed acolytes of tRump et al. These folks are not going away, and in fact may be more pissed off than ever by the election losses they did suffer. Don’t forget statements from the GOP-associated right about executing Pelosi, Schiff, Schumer, Pence, et al., and those who wish for an actual civil war. There are allegedly 300 million firearms in the US– don’t forget tRump’s statement that “My people have the guns.” These autocratic/fascistic ideas and their promoters are not going away. The battle against their efforts to control all elements of the government will go on indefinitely.

  23. Looking in, I’m getting impatient. I voted the first weekend of early voting a month ago and yet AZ still too close to call. I believe Kelly will keep his senate seat but the governor seat is still a toss up. I blame that on all of those ballot drop box deliveries on Election Day. Each ballot has to be checked and authenticated before it’s counted which takes so long. Plus a half a million voters voted that way. They could have turned in their ballot earlier but there were armed idiots sitting in sight of the ballot box even though they are being monitored with cameras! That is the right wing conspiracies running rampant. We must remove money from politics or we are never going to be a democracy. I’m not completely disappointed yet!

  24. Because, Lester, for the reasons given, i.e., the likely splintering within the Republican Party and heightened Democratic turnout augmented by an awakened youth whose numbers will increase with 16-17 year olds today who will be eligible to vote two years hence. Democracy won Tuesday.

  25. Gerald – any why will youth “awaken”?? What issue(s) will do that that weren’t “on the ballot” this week? It will be interesting to see what the youth vote was this week.

  26. International business cratering, climate change action stalled out, coal use growing, refugees swelling, war, famine, EMP threats (you didn’t know?) floods, hurricanes, drought, disease. COPOUT27. Just off the top of my head. Wasn’t watching US elections. Citizen of the world.
    Jack Smith has the key: talk to all.

  27. Lester, I am hearing from those who know more than I ( and they are legion) that the youth are taking an interest in voting on the issues of abortion and democracy, both of which were on the ballot this cycle and certain to be issues two years from now among Dobbs lovers and fascists, and incidentally, I am opposed to the Dobbs decision on grounds other than the usual argument of women’s bodily automony; I am against it for the additional reason that by putting a federal right in the hands of the states we have gone back to the Articles of Confederation that adoption of the Constitution was designed to end.

  28. I believe that much of the predicted Red Wave was little other than propaganda, aimed at convincing
    democrats to not even bother to vote. I have read that many of the polls predicting that wave were
    paid for by GOPers.
    In light of the history of the mid-terms, the Dems did do well, but GOP gerrymandering played out the
    way it was designed to play.
    The Gen-Z people seem poised to move the country towards its promise, I hear…and I hope so.
    DeSantis’ gerrymandered and otherwise surgically prepared win, here, in Florididia, sets up what may
    be a crazy-making battle between him and the Orange Troll, who has, once again, shown his real bona-fides,
    by throwing his own wife under the Oz bus!
    My hope, in the above regard, is that they will beat the hell out of each other, and show just how sick they
    both are, even to the fascists in the population, while the Gen-Z’s grow in voting strength.

    OT is about to announce his candidacy for ’24 next week. it seems, and while it seems he will gain huge
    amounts of the publicity on which he thrives, when indictment come his way. And, we may see DeSantis
    indicted for his flights of fancy.
    We’ve never been down this path before, put your hip waders on!

  29. The NY Times is reporting on the takeover of school boards & superintendents by the MAGA traitors. This should be seen as a dire warning to all who support democracy as free public schools are the cornerstone of a democracy. Unlike private schools (indoctrination centers) they teach about democracy and the separation of church & state and the need to protect democracies from tyrants like DJT.

  30. I have had two days to reflect and I feel even better than before.

    As Paul says, the Democrats pulled off an unprecedented election.

    Having spent the first third of my life in Michigan, I am delighted in total Democratic control of the state for the first time in 40 years. Also, the Nevada Secretary of State race was just called for the Democrat against the conspiracy crazy Republican.

    Some saw this as the “turning point” election, but I have always thought that it would take two or three elections to undo Trumpism, and I see this as the first step. Things take time.

    Bill Clinton (best Republican President) said that “liberals” were bad; President Obama said that they were “well meaning”, but didn’t deserve to have their ideas (like single payer) listened to. [The “Liberal” consensus in Indiana was to use single payer as a bargaining chip to get a strong (or even weak) pubic option]. Biden has gone even further and listened to the Progressive caucus and bargained with them.

    Similarly, this election was the first “slamming the breaks” on Trumpism, the Obama response, so to speak. IF (always the big if) the Democrats keep it up, the next election will be the second phase, where we shift into reverse. Then it will be up the the so-called “sane Republicans” to see if they want to return to a government of compromise, or continue to believe that they can only win by making voting as difficult as possible, and replace policy positions with theater.

    So I remain happy and guardedly hopeful that this is the first step in the right direction. We aren’t there yet, but Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

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