LATE BALLOT COUNTING NEWS: Tony Thurmond has pulled into the lead in the race for Superintendent of Public Education. Escondido’s Mayor-for-life Sam Abed is within 20 votes of losing his seat. Vladimir Putin’s favorite Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, lost his seat. Democrats Katie Porter and Gil Cisneros are within striking distance of winning key Congressional contests…
Wave, ‘smave. Call it what you want, but the 2018 election included a lot of wins worth savoring if you’re from the progressive persuasion. As additional ballots have been counted over the past week, the news has gotten better.
Reporting on the election results was shaped by time zone differences and tended to focus on higher profile races. It’s no small thing that Idaho, Nebraska and Utah voters opted to expand Medicaid, while Kansas, Maine, and Wisconsin elected pro-ACA governors.
By the time votes from the West came in, the national media had already decided there was no big win for the Democrats. West Coast jurisdictions also tend to have generous vote-by-mail rules resulting in slower vote-counting. And then there is the consistency by which Democrats’ vote haul always improves in the days that follow Election Day.
So today, let’s parse the later-breaking and overall numbers.
First of all, there’s turnout. The get out the vote efforts around the nation worked. Statewide in California, we’re looking at 62%; San Diego County’s turnout will be several points higher. The last time more citizens voted nationally in a midterm election was 1914, though we as a nation still lack at turnout compared to many other nations.
Congrats! Don’t forget to disconnect the Kremlin hotline when you move into Rohrabaher’s old office. https://t.co/ZdSavYOU35
— Mig Greengard (@chessninja) November 10, 2018
Looking past the the partisan horse race calling, it’s not just Democrats who won, it’s what kind of Democrats. And, given the hand we were dealt–between gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the faithful stenographers in the national press corps–some mighty good people were elected.
In the wake of the Thousand Oaks shooting last week, the good news is that 15 House Republicans with “A” NRA ratings lost on November 8. All 15 were replaced by Democrats with “F” NRA ratings.
From Mother Jones:
In a five-point action plan for the 116th Congress unveiled Wednesday, the gun safety group Everytown listed universal background checks for firearms purchases as one of its top priorities. Currently, only federally licensed dealers are required to perform background checks, meaning that private venders at gun shows and elsewhere can sell weapons without screening buyers.
Everytown’s priorities also include disarming domestic abusers, implementing red flag laws, and funding gun violence prevention research—something the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have long been prohibited from doing. Absent from their list are measures that ban assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, despite the fact that such restrictions were a key demand of student activists in the wake of Parkland. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), a prominent supporter of gun control and the author of several gun reform bills, thinks that’s wise. Everytown’s priorities are “less about the firearm and more about people’s access to the firearm,” he said. “I think we ought to start with those because I think there would be a lot of bipartisan support for them.”
Gun-control groups, including Giffords and Everytown for Gun Safety, spent $20.2 million on the elections, outspending the NRA by more than 40% on congressional elections, reversing the right wing group’s longstanding dominance in spending on politics.
Given the reality of Republicans still controlling the Senate, the best gun-control advocates can hope for in the short term are new regulations at the state level. The good news is Democrats pulled out big victories across state legislatures, flipping six chambers, turning others purple, and shoring up its super majorities in still more.
The thing to remember about these victories for marquee offices are the many down ballot victories by like-minded candidates. Locally, Moms Demand Action and similar groups were actively involved in voter turnout efforts.
Hear her roar… The 2018 midterm elections saw a diverse field and a record high number of women running
Assuming the final ballot counts continue in their present direction, the House Democrats’ class of 61 freshmen will include 35 women and just 19 white men. By contrast, Republicans’ class of 31 will include 29 white men and just one woman. With 65 female incumbents in the House, the total now stands at 100, an all-time record.
Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland will become the first Native American women elected to Congress. Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party will become the first Muslim women in Congress.
Omar, in addition to being one of the first Muslim women in Congress, will also be the first Somali-American member, having come to the US more than two decades ago as a refugee.
Texas voters elected the state’s first two Hispanic women to Congress as Veronica Escobar won the seat to replace Rep. Beto O’Rourke in the congressional district near El Paso. State Sen. Sylvia Garcia won a Houston-area district that was relinquished by the retiring Democratic Rep. Gene Green.
In Harris County, Texas, 17 Black women, running with a joint campaign they called “Black Girl Magic Texas”, won judicial posts. The county, which includes Houston, is the largest county in the state.
The number of black women in Congress will climb above 20 for the first time in its history, including first-time-electeds in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The crowd-sourced Black Women in Politics database, indicates at least 468 black women ran for political office in 2018.
The black women who won and ran in 2018 are significant not only for who they are, but also for how they ran their campaigns. At the congressional level, many of the black women on the ballot this year spoke about expanding access to health care and improving public education, but didn’t shy away from frank discussions of race.
By doing so, they were responding to the needs and concerns of black voters. Earlier this year, polls of black voters showed that the group is dealing with high levels of racial anxiety, and that they are looking for politicians capable of emphasizing issues like health care and the economy as well as racial justice.
At Bustle, they noted yet another change for the better, namely that Congress is about to get much younger, thanks in no small way to the increased participation of younger voters in the 2018 elections:
29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made history in the midterms by becoming the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Once sworn in, she’ll be joined by 29-year-old Abby Finkenauer, 32-year-old Lauren Underwood, 33-year-old Xochitl Torres Small and a slate of other newly-elected millennial lawmakers. In total, 25 candidates who were elected for the first time on Tuesday are 40 years old or younger, according to PBS; collectively, these young politicians will lower the average age of federal lawmakers by 10 years once they’re sworn in.
This is a huge change, given that Congress has been getting steadily older for decades. Since 1981, the average age of representatives and senators has jumped from 49 and 53, respectively, to 57 and 61, according to Quorum, making the current Congress one of the oldest in history. Tuesday’s elections sharply and abruptly reversed that trend.
The upcoming young Congress is the result, in part, of young voters. According to early estimates from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, a whopping 31 percent of Americans aged 18-29 voted in Tuesday’s midterms, a much higher share in any election since at least the mid-1990s. Two-thirds of them voted for Democrats, according to the same study.
The LGBT community responded to two years of unrelenting attacks by the Trump administration by running the most candidates ever.
They were responding to hostile acts including “religious liberty” guidelines issued to federal agencies and contractors; arguing in a 2017 federal lawsuit that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect gay people, along with a slew of judicial appointments –including the Supreme Court Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh– whose records deeply trouble L.G.B.T. groups. Now the administration is reported to be weighing a change to the legal definition of gender that could render transgender people legally nonexistent.
From the New York Times:
More openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were elected Tuesday night than in any previous election, signaling a shift in cultural attitudes even as the Trump administration has chipped away at L.G.B.T. rights.
The results are still rolling in, but at least 153 have won so far, said Elliot Imse, a spokesman for the Victory Fund, a nonpartisan political action committee devoted to electing L.G.B.T. candidates. The group endorsed 225 candidates in this election cycle, nearly all of whom were Democrats.
L.G.B.T. candidates ran for office in record numbers this year. “Success breeds success,” said Annise Parker, the president and chief executive of the Victory Fund and former mayor of Houston.
In Colorado, Jared Polis defeated a Republican opponent to become the first openly gay man elected governor in any state. (Oregon’s Kate Brown, who faced down a serious challenge from the GOP, is the first openly gay woman governor.)
Now, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that just electing Democrats–or any other singular descriptor– is not the final answer to the ascendancy of Donald Trump. He’s a symptom, albeit a bad one, of a much larger battle between the primacy of “me” over “we.”
This election went a long way towards creating a legislative body actually reflecting our country, and more needs to happen..
The destruction of the commons, the worship of the market as the ultimate arbitor, and the debasement of the “other” are all part of a historic assault on common decency. Too many Democrats have fallen victim to the shiny packaging and false promises of the incremental steps reactionaries have been taking over the past 40 years.
More bad policy and vulgarity are coming from the GOP and their allies in the coming years. A bunch of elected Democrats won’t be able to do much more than express the outrage and opposition.
The lure of the lobbyists and the complacency of incumbency are ever-present. So heading back out into the streets and other forms of mass protest are going to be essential.
It’s up to activists to hold their hands to the fire.
Where possible, the Democratic majority in the House needs to use their platform to expound on the most odious parts of the GOP game plan.
If it is true that the Democrats first legislative initiatives will include voting rights, (including automatic registration), restoring the voting rights act, public financing of elections, striking a blow at Congressional gerrymandering, and offering up an amendment to overturn Citizens United, then they’re on the right track..
Finally, here’s LA Kaufman in the Guardian,
At moments of low morale over the last two years, many people wondered what the resistance to Trump was really accomplishing, whether all the marching and demonstrations would have any enduring impact. There have been more protests over the past two years than during any comparable period in US history, but it wasn’t always clear whether or not they were just venting frustration, shouting into the wind to compensate for a lack of other influence.
From the very start, though, the grassroots resistance to Trump has been different in important ways from previous protest movements in America. It has been unprecedented in its scale and geographic reach, kicking off with Women’s Marches in more than 650 different communities around the country that together brought more than 4 million people out into the streets. After those millions marched, they didn’t just go back home. Many of them continued to organize, forming at least 5,000 locally rooted grassroots groups around the country: a sprawling decentralized, women-led web of activists that, much like the Women’s Marches themselves, reached into every congressional district, including many places where Trump won overwhelmingly in 2016.
The grassroots resistance to Trump has also been strikingly pragmatic. Some protest movements of the past have avoided electoral involvement, seeing it as too compromised and dispiriting of an arena for action. But even where the Democratic candidates on the ballot were less than inspiring, those who had marched against Trump dug in to organizing to get them elected. Local resistance groups formed crucial nodes in a massive nationwide get-out-the-vote operation that not only dwarfed previous midterm voter-mobilization efforts but may well have been the largest in US history.
Our overarching goal for 2020 must be a multiracial, multi-ethnic majority, fueled by enormous turnout, rising up to put a decisive, emphatic check on Trumpism and other notions of the oligarchy.
Success in 2020 will come from fighting for practical policy, not punching back. The backbone of our victory next time around needs to once again be the dynamic of activist + electoral politics.
Indivisible, Black Girl Magic, Moms Demand Action, 350 groups need to learn and grow from the process, not allowing themselves to be lulled into partisan machinations. There’s plenty of other work to be done.
And I don’t care who’s running for president in 2020. Yet.
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter AT SanDiegoFreePress.Org Check us out on Facebook and Twitter.