Despite the results of the mid-term election, we need to think about a few important things. Specifically what happens next. The Democrats had a very good night, regardless of the hot takes. They had the largest mid-term electoral swing since 2008, bigger than the Tea Party wave in 2010. The Democrats have retaken the House of Representatives. As of right now given that Georgia is still out, the Democrats have retaken 7 governors’ mansions, flipped 7 state legislative chambers, and flipped 333 state legislative seats. The Democrats have also wiped out all the local Republican control in both Dallas and Houston. There are also a lot of other local successes, such as the redistricting referendum in Michigan, referendums on automatic voter registration in a number of states, and the reenfranchisement amendment in Florida. While the Democrats weren’t able to thread the needle and retake the Senate, last night, overall was a good night and the few outstanding high profile races that we’re watching are close enough that there may still be further positive gains.
Unfortunately, we need to be prepared for backlash. The reason for this is simple: the President and his supporters – the base of the Republican Party – are both sore losers and sore winners. I’m not even sure it is possible to work out whether they’re sorer losers or sorer winners. The good news is that because the Republicans lost the House, at least 7 governors’ mansions, 7 state legislatures, and 333 state legislative states overall, we’ve got some breathing room. It is now much, much, much harder for the President and the Republican Party he has fully remade in his image to accelerate what they have been doing over the past two years. Additional tax cuts, another attempt to repeal the ACA, and an effort to get rid of Social Security and Medicare are now all off the table. The chances that Special Counsel Mueller’s investigations will be interfered with, let alone shut down, have significantly decreased. And while the anti-immigrant, anti-ethnic minority, anti-religious minority, and anti-LGBTQ actions taken by the executive branch will continue, there is both a legislative branch check on them through House oversight, as well as a check in the states where Democrats have taken the governors’ mansions. And those Democratic governors, state legislatures, and the overall increase in Democratic state legislatures will be an important check on attempts to further gerrymander state and Federal legislative districts. Finally, the attempt to fully transform Congress into a subordinate arm of the executive branch has failed, though the GOP majority controlled Senate will still slavishly go along with what ever the President wants.
Because the President and his supporters are both sore losers and sore winners, they were guaranteed to act out whatever happened with the 2018 mid-term election. And, unfortunately, I expect that some of that acting out will be violent. And this is really what we need to be thinking about despite these very good electoral outcomes. Specifically those of us who are white and straight need to be thinking about what we’re going to do to protect those who are not. Especially those who are visible ethnic minorities (people of color), visible religious minorities (because of religiously required apparel), and visibly identifiable LGBTQ people. Some of this protection will now come at the state level because of the 7 new Democratic governors, 7 new majority Democratic state legislatures, and the Democratic increases in other state legislatures that allow them to block harmful legislation. However, a lot of what will need to be done to protect visible ethnic minorities, visible religious minorities, visibly identifiable LGBTQ people are not going to need to be done in relation to Federal or state legislation or regulation. Rather, it is going to be directed by our fellow citizens, individually and in groups, at visible ethnic minorities, visible religious minorities, visibly identifiable LGBTQ people. As a result, those of us who are white and straight need to begin thinking about what we’re able to do, what we’re willing to do, and under what circumstances we’re willing to do it in regard to protecting our ethnic minority, religious minority, and LGBTQ neighbors.
I hate to have to think this, let alone write it, but we have reached a point in the US where regardless of who wins or loses any given election, we need to be aware that significant numbers of our fellow Americans – citizens, legal residents, and even undocumented – are at significant risk. And the threat is coming from inside the house, from other Americans! It is far better to think about how much risk we are willing to assume in the protection of our fellow Americans who are at risk now, rather than having to just react without reflection in the moment. Are you comfortable and willing to use your smart phone to videotape an unfortunate interaction to make sure there is a clear record? Are you comfortable and willing to say something to an aggressive and abusive person? Are you comfortable and willing to put yourself bettwen an aggressive and abusive person and their victim?
The President’s off the cuff, free wheeling, and frankly bizarre press conference today demonstrates the danger that America in general, and the most vulnerable Americans in specific, still faces.
As Norm Ornstein and Jim Manley remarked shortly after the press conference:
It cannot be said too often: A 71-year-old narcissistic autocratic sociopath cannot and will not change. Put him in a stressful situation and it is dangerous for all of us
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) November 7, 2018
Stay alert! Stay focused! Stay alive!
* I had originally starting drafting this post last night. I stopped and decided to hold off finishing it and publishing it till today, if I finished and published it at all. Given the President’s press conference, as well as the termination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, I decided it needed to be finished and published.