Wednesday, November 7, 2018

What Did Last Night Mean?

I’ve tried to put the Pollyanna spin on this year’s midterms but I was disappointed. For sure Democrats gained 27 seats, potentially nine more (23 House races remain undetermined). But am I supposed to be happy about gains that were less than half of the 63 Republicans gained in 2010, Osama’s first mid-terms. And, in the Senate, the Repugs picked up seats. In 2010 Dems lost six. 
What did energize me was how many women ran and were elected. This was the second year of the woman. The first was in 1992, following the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation by an all male, all white confirmation committee. Pissed off women organized and, for the first time in American history, in a single election year four women—Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, both from California making it the first state in the nation to be represented in the Senate by two women, Carol Moseley Braun from Illinois, and Patty Murray of Washington—were elected to the Senate. And the House got fourteen. 
Women smashed records this election cycle. More ran, more became their party’s nominees for House, Senate and gubernatorial races—women more than doubled gains made in 1992. The House will get thirty-five new female members. Eleven women were elected to the Senate (nearly all Democrats). And nine women won gubernatorial races. White men will be at historic lows in the 116thCongress—60% in the House, 71% in the Senate. And January’s congressional makeup will be more diverse. Africans Americans, Hispanics, Asians and the L.G.B.T. community are at record highs. Plus, for the first time, two native Native American women and two Muslim women were elected to the house, and Vermont elected a Transgender woman governor. The Senate, for the first time, reflects the American population.
And both sides were energized. In early September, it looked like the Democrats were doing a better job of energizing their base. Then the Kavnaugh hearing happened. Demonstrations against his appointment invigorated the Republicans. An estimated 113 million people voted in this midterm, 13 million more than the previous high.
Plus there was no overriding theme—far right, far left or centrist. Results of the midterms mirrored the divided country—split along race, education, and geographic lines. The schism of what America and is and should is more splintered than it’s been during my lifetime.
Progress was made but it’s gonna be slow. I’ve yet to master patience so this pace is infuriating. At this rate I won’t live long enough to see the US get back to the place we were in the 70s, the time I came of age. I thought we were moving toward inclusivity. Was I wrong? Was I naive? It doesn’t matter. It’s where I thought we were and at this pace in all likelihood, I won’t live long enough to see us get there again.