Mid-terms 2018: reflections the morning after
TL;DR: it’s not enough, but it’s a move in the right direction. People get that the stakes are high, and huge majorities voted to repudiate this Administration and its politics of fear and division.
1) Dems won the House! This is unequivocally good news, particularly with a range of new faces and voices (first Native woman elected to office!) I hope that they also elect new leadership. Pelosi has done a lot and for that we should thank her, but she isn’t the voice of the future.
2) Senate: Lots of mixed feelings. Sad to see Beto lose in TX, but same story as above. Sad to see McClaskill go down in Missouri. Sad to see the Dems lose ND, but Heitkamp wasn’t my favorite.
Overall: Dems won the popular vote in an absolute landslide. The urban/rural divide remains, the gender divide remains, the race divide remains, but in absolute numbers the story is clear.
State gubernatorials: Abrams is the one I was most excited for — sorry she didn’t win outright, but excited that it’s close and will hopefully move to a runoff. Kemp has done everything in his power to disenfranchise GA voters — we can’t reward that.
Brutal to see Gillum lose to an open racist in Florida… but glad he ran a great campaign and put the state on notice. Bummed about Jealous in MD and Jordan in ID. But: Dems defeated Kris Kobach in KS and Scott Walker (!) in WI. There is justice in this world. And thankfully Kate Brown hung on in OR after an uninspiring campaign. And good news out of Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and beyond.
State ballot measures:
Surprised and saddened by the defeat of the carbon-tax initiative here in Washington. Glad MA stood up for our trans siblings, and glad my home state of OR stood up for reproductive rights and immigrants. Super great that FL voted (in a landslide!) to restore felon voting rights.
Dems did well in the state legislature, building our lead in the house and senate. But WA voters also re-elected an accused rapist (Sen. Fain), a chronic sexual harasser (Sen. Mannweller), and a guy who believes we have to arm ourselves to protect white Christians (Rep. Shea) — all Republicans. The ballot measures were mixed: got bought off by big oil and soda on two measures, but stood up for strong gun regulations and police accountability. Mixed on the federal level: what looks likely to be a big win in the 8th to retake a R seat, but disappointing losses in the 5th and probably in the 3rd, two seats that would have been great to take.
The reason I’m not jubilant:
I think by and large this was still an election in opposition. It was the “resistance” (a term I dislike) reacting to Trumpism. And on the other side, it was defenders of a status quo fighting against the perceived menace of a “radical” agenda.
The candidates (those with a national following) who offered what in my view is the most promising vision for the future of our country generally did not fare well. Granted, most faced huge odds and a stacked deck (Gillum, Abrams, Beto, Jordan), but I’m nervous about what lessons Dem politicos will take from this. I want bold progressives in office backed by accountable people-powered movements, not more spineless corporate Dems backed by PAC dollars.
But this is also a reminder that the electoral cycle isn’t everything. Yes it matters, and absolutely we must leverage it, but the struggle continues. Policy change has always been a lagging indicator: the more important work continues in the streets to change social norms.