The Democrats are quite pleased with their showing in the U.S midterm elections. From where I sit, it doesn’t look quite that cheerful—they lost the House of Representatives and may yet lose the Senate.
Nonetheless, the prediction was for the usual midterm result which is a drubbing for the president’s party. i.e. a landslide for the Republicans—and it didn’t happen. Indeed, President Biden was claiming he lost fewer seats in the House than any Democratic president in his first midterm since John F. Kennedy. From that perspective it was a good night.
The glass is half full in other words—the Republicans netted far fewer seats than average for an opposition party in the midterms, barely winning the House and maybe not winning the Senate at all. Actually this result is somewhat surprising considering the president is unpopular and inflation is the highest in years.
The Republicans lost governorships and legislative seats, and a number of Trump’s big-name election-deniers went down to defeat. The conservative Wall Street Journal declared, “Trump is the Republican Party’s biggest loser,” going on to accuse him of having “flopped in 2018, 2020, 2021 and 2022.”
The Journal wasn’t the only conservative voice to dump on the Donald. Conservative writer John Podhoretz called him, “the most profound vote repellent in modern American history.” And needless to say, very conservative but very honourable Liz Cheney was delighted, saying “I think it was a clear victory for team normal.”
Even his former cheerleader, Fox news, got into the act, parading a list of commentators who blamed him for dragging the party down. Former Trump booster Laura Ingraham had this to say, “If the voters conclude that you’re putting your own ego or your own grudges ahead of what’s good for the country, they’re going to look elsewhere, period.” She’s finally catching on to the fact her former hero is a flaming narcissist.
Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post plastered its front page with “TRUMPTY DUMPTY—Don (who couldn’t build a wall) had a great fall—can all the GOP’s men put the party back together again?”
The Republicans even came up with a challenger for Trump in 2022. Ron DeSantis retained his governorship of Florida with a big win that has people talking presidential candidate. Someone to tackle Trump is the good news; the bad news is that he is even more extreme and more intelligent, i.e. possibly more dangerous.
A number of reasons are being offered as to why the Democrats did surprisingly well. There was the Trump effect: a number of candidates were Trump loyalists who won the party primary but were too flaky to attract moderate voters. A Supreme Court perceived as Republican stripping abortion of constitutional protection undoubtedly swung many voters the Democrat’s way. And then there was the concern about the future of democracy in the hands of a fascist-leaning Republican Party. And maybe it was partly because the GOP simply didn’t have much to offer working class Americans.
Despite a good day for democracy, problems remain. Many Republicans remain election-deniers or even election-fixers. And the Supreme Court is set to hear a major case that could give state legislatures even greater authority over federal elections. Then there is the huge problem of corruption by big money, and as I have written elsewhere, even the American constitution has flaws that undermine democracy.
But democracy is always messy; American democracy is just a lot messier than most at the moment. At least it seems our neighbours are beginning to clean up their Trump mess.
So let’s celebrate with the Democrats. I quote President Biden: “With their votes, the American people have spoken. They have proven once again that democracy is who we are.”
I sure hope you’re right, Joe.