••• The International Writers Magazine: US Reality Check 2018
Women, Repudiation, Entrenchment & Reckoning
Lots of stuff happened on November 6, 2018. This was the second time the current administration – its policies, its tone, its corruption and investigations have had to face the voters since 2016, and the results were historic, contradictory and changed the face of Washington DC dramatically for the next two years.
Let’s review the ten take-aways…
Women, Women, And More Women
Out of a record candidacy of 53 for Senate and 475 for the House, an unprecedented 110 women were elected to congress. Another record nine women were elected governor across the nation. As the proud father of a ten year-old daughter and the honored husband of a woman who traveled down to DC to join the Women’s March of 2017, this was one for the books. This election realized the first woman of color, Ayanna Pressley in the historically racist Massachusetts’ congressional delegation. Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota will be the first Muslim women ever to serve in Congress. Sharice Davids toppled a Republican man in Kansas and Deb Haaland prevailed in New Mexico, becoming the first Native American congresswoman. In Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, a Republican, became the state’s first woman elected to the Senate.
Beyond party and politics, the real wave of the evening, and for the future of the heretofore mostly patriarchal construct of this republic, was the X chromosome. Shit, in response to the Clarence Thomas hearings, the 1992 election was considered “The Year of the Woman”, as a paltry 33 women were elected to positions of power around the nation. Of course, this is politics and therefore the numbers must be analyzed as such. A Gallup survey of registered voters on Election Day shed light on the shifting trend in America. The female electorate preferred Democrats by 58 percent to 34 percent. The gap between the genders is even more striking among millennials. According to Pew, a whopping 70 percent of millennial women affiliated with or leaned toward the Democrats, up from 56 percent four years ago.
This, I believe, more than anything else is the most strikingly concussive response to the current president, whose issues with women are well documented, along with the outpouring of outrage over the threat to a woman’s right to choose and a strange but impenetrable support for the Affordable Care Act.
The ACA? Yup, the ACA
Here’s the thing. The fight over pre-existing conditions absolutely led more to the flip in the House of Representatives and the closeness of gubernatorial and senate races in ruby red states than anything coming from this damaged and beleaguered president or what Republicans and Democrats will do for or against the country in the next two years. The groundswell of exit polling had now nearly 72 percent of voters (by far the most important subject of voting November 6) favoring the stabilization of the ACA.
In the final weeks leading up to the election, some Republicans who over a dozen times voted to repeal Obamacare, claimed they supported all of its elements, but apparently very little of the electorate bought it. If there was a true, unequivocal repudiation in this election beyond a controversial and divisive president, it is the defense of the ACA, which in the 20-plus years I have been penning this column is the oddest most unexplainable political phenomenon yet. It was abhorred mostly by the Left and the Right in 2009 when it was enacted, cost a record 63 seats in congress to the party in power in 2010 and had to survive a ridiculous amount of vote attacks on the Hill thereafter, including two squeaker decisions on the Supreme Court. Yet it was this past Tuesday the most important reason for voters to show up, especially ones voting to flip the House, and especially among the aforementioned wave of women votes and elections.
The future of the ACA was cemented on this Election Day. Period
The Rust Belt and Florida
Two bellwether results that came out of the 2018 midterms could, indeed, determine the 2020 presidential election: First and foremost is that Florida is no longer a battleground state. Not to say it will stay red past that election, but the current president is Teflon there. The rather bland and openly racist Congressman Ron DeSantis defeated Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a charismatic African American mainly on the wings of the 2016 late-surge voter that helped put a Republican in the White House. Florida is over for Democrats and the party should attack their plans to take back the executive branch somewhere else.
And that direction could be the Rust Belt, which absolutely solidified the current presidency two years ago on the wing and prayer of international trade and manufacturing jobs, both of which have not materialized in favor of those who rolled the dice in the other direction in 2016 but have come back to the Democratic fold just one major election cycle later. Michigan and Wisconsin (both voted Republican for president in 2016) elected Democratic governors and another flip state for the GOP, Pennsylvania sent a record three women to congress (all Democrats), although they split the senate races.
If the results of the midterm told us anything, the whole turn-back-the-economic-clock theory that galvanized enough independents and conservative Democrats to vote GOP in 2016 across the mid-west is swinging back and that is what the eventual Democratic candidate needs to concentrate on this time, and not ignore, as did the last one to her own detriment.
Okay Then, Who Should Be Celebrating?
Both Republicans (whew, this could have been waaay worse) and Democrats (whoopie we took over a branch of government) can celebrate this. The expansion of the Senate, the most probable outcome due to the amount of seats the Dems had to defend in mostly Republican districts, is important for 2020, as it will shift mightily against Republicans then. This past election provided them a cushion against that. It also allows whatever right-wing court appointments that come out of the executive branch a wide voter birth, including a pretty solid buffer for the highest court vote if that comes into play again over the next two years. Taking the House for Democrats, again, a known factor since so many GOP candidates had to survive in mostly suburban Democratic districts, is important for the party out of power to check this quite blatantly out of control administration, and to basically cripple any legislation that does not reek of centrist or progressive leanings.
Not to mention subpoena power and a resurgence of the congressional investigations into this presidency that had been thwarted by obstructionist defense of it.
Investors certainly celebrated, as the Dow Jones had its best day in over a year. (Soon to then plummet for other resasons). Considering the historically low approval ratings for the president and the record numbers of voters that came out to turn over the government (it was a higher percentage than the 2010 GOP surge, but due to gerrymandering, kept the overall numbers down) it was a historic day all around and one that come January will turn things around quite a bit to say the very least.
© James Campion Nov 9 2018
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus”, "Midnight For Cinderella" and “Y”. and his new book, “Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon”.