Election Reflections

Since social media’s primary purpose is to let us talk to ourselves with the illusion we’re talking to others, two election hot takes I’ve been mulling over today:

1. I don’t have any great love for JB Pritzker, and I didn’t vote for him in the primary, but the notion that he’s just Rauner-lite or only a superficial improvement strikes me as absurd. Rauner was awful. Awful! He was elected in a fluke (non-Presidential year, stagnant economy, unpopular/weak incumbent governor), and while there’s a template for popular Republican governors succeeding in heavily left-leaning states (look at results last night for Charlie Baker in Mass and Larry Hogan in Maryland), Rauner spent his entire miserable term vacillating between theatrical displays of ideology that resulted in horrible, unnecessary budget cuts, a laughable PR blitz to recreate his image as a folksy every man, and a destructive, unyielding dick measuring contest with Mike Madigan. JB may be (probably is) just as power hungry and ego-driven as Rauner, is certainly a creature of the system, and does not exactly exude authenticity (to put it mildly), but he’s a well proven lifelong Liberal who is a massive improvement for the state. There should be nothing bittersweet about this.

2. To me, one thing no one seems to be acknowledging is that last night was a death blow to everything the Koch brothers have tried to accomplish over the last decade, as evidenced especially by the gubernatorial elections in Kansas and Wisconsin. While of course it would have been phenomenal to win the Gillum or Abrams elections, Kansas and Wisconsin are symbolically even more important in my mind as for the last decade they have been staging ground 1A and 1B for every Koch-sponsored effort to remake government. 10 years ago, both Kansas and Wisconsin had Democratic governors (Kathleen Sebelius and Jim Doyle). With Koch bulls-eyes on those seats, in 2010, they elected Sam Brownback and Scott Walker. Thanks to Americans for Prosperity, over the eight years that have passed, the two states have served as a Koch Industries lab for destroying government. Scott Walker v. teachers unions and Sam Brownback v. taxes rush to mind. As Democrats took beatings in 2010, 2014 and 2016, it seemed plausible to me that the Kochs were succeeding — or had succeeded — at fundamentally changing the electorate’s view on the scope of government, especially in the Midwest. Seeing Brownback now jettisoned to a made up ambassadorship, and Kris Kobach and Walker losing (not to mention Nebraska, Utah and Idaho voters opting in to Medicaid expansion and Arkansas and Missouri raising their minimum wages), is EXTREMELY heartening to me. Whatever it is we are dealing with in Trumpism, clearly Americans are not nearly as oriented towards small government as the Kochs and AFP would like us to believe. This is a very encouraging thing. (Related side note, I think more and more that right now Trumpism is an awful but necessary exercise to just slowly peel back the onion of resentment. At first they Trumpkins said they just hate taxes and want government out of healthcare. Now they hate immigration and PC culture. Eventually we will strip it down to what we know it is, fear and resentment, and hopefully once it is naked, we can rebuild.)