Compared to the far more substantial opposition party victories in 2006, 2010, and 2014, last night was a disappointment, even an occasion for worry.
The attacks on democratic norms and institutions we’ve witnessed in the last two years, as well as the upheavals of foreign and trade policy by the Trump administration, should’ve triggered a recapture of both houses by the Democrats. Instead, we got a moderate swing toward the opposition party that could’ve happened in the midterm elections of any first-term presidency–albeit one that will insure the kind of basic check on Presidential power that the constitution was designed to enshrine.
As Bill Kristol has pointed out on twitter, the Democrats lack the discipline to stay on message—any message. And as David Brooks wisely pointed out, demography means that it is the Democrats who will be leading the country into a majority-minority future. If they don’t come up with an inspiring, unifying message, it will be left to the fear mongers to forge the emotional core of our national life. The sooner the Democrats forge their own coherent national narrative, the better their short-term electoral fortunes, and the better the health of the nation. It will be an uphill battle against social media, which is predisposed to negativity, but it is a battle they have to get serious about fighting.
Most worrying for democracy is the toleration in Georgia of massive voter disenfranchisement by a secretary of state who abused his office to win the governorship. Especially because it is politicians like Stacey Abrams, known for pragmatic bipartisan governance, whose “purple state” leadership will provide just the kind of unifying narrative our country needs to know who it will be in the 21st Century.
What did you think of the outcome of the elections?