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…