All that hard work (and money) by grassroots organizations revulsed and galvanized by Trump and the Republicans paid off.
The incessant drumbeat to turn out every single vote was necessary because, as was demonstrated, Democrats needed overwhelming majorities to overcome gerrymandering and voter suppression. Indeed, elections in Georgia, Florida and California, at this writing, are still “too close to call.”
Early estimates put the number of voters at 113 million, or 48 percent of eligible voters, compared to only 83 million in 2014, and close to the 2016 presidential tally of 138 million. Though it is too early to know for sure, much of the increase is likely to have come from first-time voters and a surge of young voters (evidence of March for Our Lives organization’s impact).
But one thing is clear: this was, in fact, a blue tsunami.
If Trump and the Republicans keep pretending their 2016 “win” (despite losing the popular vote by 3 million) was a “mandate” to roll back every positive action accomplished with thought and precision during the Obama years, and that “elections matter,” the still-dominant Senate Republicans should take heed. Indeed, their “majority” is upheld by a mere sliver of Americans.
In 2018, more than 10 million more Americans voted for Democratic Senate candidates than for Republicans, yet Republicans will wind up with as much as a 9-seat advantage, without the ability aimed at empowering a minority, to filibuster, thanks to McConnell’s Machiavellian machinations.
Trump’s reaction to the midterm results was astonishing – first insisting that Democrats did not have a Blue Wave at all but that Republicans, in fact, were the victors. And when that didn’t take over the news cycle, he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with a lackey whose only “qualification” to be the chief law enforcement officer of the land was his promise to end the Mueller Investigation (and therefore short-circuiting any impeachment).
In a redux of 2017, that prompted yet another set of nationwide protests: 6,000 turned out in New York City to rally to protect Mueller; 100,000 in 1,000 separate protests across the country.
Now, Trump and the Republicans are pulling a Bush v. Gore redux in trying to shut down legally mandated vote counting in Florida, sending activists to scream “Lock her Up!” to intimidate Broward County election officials, just as Roger Stone did to intimidate the 2000 recount, until the clock could be run out (Florida’s laws are contradictory, requiring certification of the vote before the due date for military ballots to be received). Florida Governor Rick Scott, who is running for U.S. senator, actually is abusing his power in trying to order confiscation of the voting machines.
It is truly remarkable that the votes are as close as they are in Georgia, where Brian Kemp, the candidate for governor who was also Secretary of State, undertook a two-year campaign to purge 1 million people from voting and set up mechanisms to suppress voting from Democratic-leaning citizens.
Do the Republicans take this as a message from the electorate as to what policies they should follow, what solutions, that Americans are sick and tired of the cause of party power over country, of the hate-filled rhetoric? Of course not.
Democrats won stunning victories – fending off some of the challenge that would have resulted in an even larger Republican domination of the Senate (so much easier to push through radically rightwing Judges and inept, corrupt Cabinet officials and administration appointees). Winning back the Senate would have been a virtual miracle given the “map” which gave a substantial advantage to Republicans.
But Democrats managed to elect Jacky Rosen to unseat Nevada’s Dean Heller, flip Arizona’s Senate seat, and hold West Virginia for Manchin (a state where Trump rallied multiple times).
Gun reform advocates and climate activists also will become a significant force, along with a House majority that will preserve key elements of Obamacare, and hopefully make improvements.
A record number of more than 100 women won their election to Congress, as well as minorities of all stripes – including its first two female Native Americans and its first two female Muslims.
Those who are already warning Democrats not to pursue Russian meddling in US elections and possible conspiracy with the Trump campaign and Trump’s conflicts of interest and violations of the Emoluments clause, fail to realize that the Democrats can do both: conduct oversight and come up with solutions to pressing issues.
First up: pulling out those bipartisan fixes to Obamacare, protecting those with pre-existing conditions and women’s reproductive rights; legalizing the status of DACA recipients; overturning the limits on deductibility of State and Local Taxes (SALT); resurrecting the Disclose Act to reform campaign finance and protecting voting rights; protecting Robert Mueller’s investigation and the Rule of Law. And for the first time, there is a “Gun Sense Majority” in the House (a record 35 NRA-backed candidates lost).
Next: A real plan to address the opioid crisis and unconscionable prices for life-saving drugs. A real Infrastructure plan that hopefully also addresses the need for climate action and sustainability; resurrecting the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill that passed the Senate in 2013 but House Republicans refused to hold a vote.
More likely, the Republican Senate will again obstruct any pragmatic legislation. But will 2020 voters hold Republicans to account? They didn’t after the obstruction throughout Obama’s presidency.
And when the economy turns, Trump, who will be even more desperate for reelection (he sees the presidency as a get-out-of-jail free card; will he launch a war?), will blame Democrats (what else is new?). Cue “Witchhunt!” “Deep State!” “Enemies of the People!” “Venezuela!”
One thing is certain, if Democrats don’t come through, the grassroots will rebel with a “pox on both your houses.”