Starting with the election of Joe Biden in November 2020, U.S. election results have been looking rather good.
The midterms in 2022 were predicted to produce the usual midterm result—a rout of the incumbent president’s party. To the delight of the Democrats and progressives everywhere, it didn’t happen. The Republicans only narrowly won the House while the Democrats gained a majority in the Senate. And Trump-friendly candidates took a drubbing.
More good news this week.
In Wisconsin, liberal Janet Protasiewicz won the election for the seventh spot on the state’s supreme court. Dominated by conservative Republicans since 2008, the court had backstopped a hard turn to the right by a Republican legislature and former Republican governor Scott Walker.
The Republican regime had gutted public sector unions and gerrymandered electoral maps to give themselves almost unbreakable control of the state government. When a Democrat was elected governor they consistently undermined him.
The conservative court was the only one in the country to agree to hear Trump’s challenge to the presidential election. (Fortunately one conservative broke ranks and voted with the liberals to deny the challenge.)
Wisconsin Democrats are expected to quickly present a case challenging the electoral maps. On another critical matter, the state’s 1849 abortion ban, enacted 70 years before women could vote, is already being challenged by Wisconsin’s Democratic attorney general. With a majority liberal court, ending the ban has a good chance of success.
Judge Protasiewicz made her views on abortion rights and the state’s electoral map clear during her campaign. While this may seem too political a position for a judge, the notion that American justices are apolitical has been put to rest by the behaviour of both Wisconsin and the nation’s supreme courts.
Another encouraging election was progressive Democrat Brandon Johnson winning the race for mayor of Chicago. Johnson’s opponent was a conservative Democrat running on a strong law and order platform.
With crime and public safety being Chicago voters’ top concerns, his opponent’s approach looked like a winner, but Johnson won convincingly on his own approach to crime: more economic and community development, more social workers and mental health professionals, and more detectives to actually solve the crimes that are committed. The New York Times suggests this may be a blueprint for the Democrats to present a more humane approach to crime.
Leaders of the Democratic left, including Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, had endorsed Johnson. Democrat Jan Schakowsky, who represents a Chicago district, opined that “This should give heart to people who want to run progressive campaigns around the country.”
I rather hope it’s also a sign that the U.S. might be slowly de-Trumping itself.