The 2018 Midterms- A Globally Critical Blue Wave.

The 2018 Midterms- A Globally Critical Blue Wave.

     The 2018 midterm elections were among the most anticipated races in history, and they did not fail to deliver dramatic results. Throughout the election cycle, word of a Democratic Blue Wave gained momentum, and a watershed voter turnout was the satisfying result. It was the highest for any election held in the United States since Watergate, which seemed suitable for such a high stakes contest. In many cases, the primary considerations of the voters seemed to counterbalance one another. These were the strong economy and the personal repugnance of Trump himself. The president has managed to snatch credit for the strength of the economy, but his low approval ratings pointed to Democratic gains (Washington Post). History has favored the minority party at the time of the president’s first midterm. This tendency, combined with American disgust for Trump himself as a man, to give Democrats control of the half of the Congress known as the House of Representatives by a wide margin.

     The achievement of the Democrats can hardly be overstated. Reporter Dan Balz of the Washington Post gave us a few statistics with which to illustrate this point. Democrats flipped about two-thirds of the competitive districts won by both Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012 or by Clinton in 2016 and Mitt Romney in 2012. They also picked up one-third of districts won by Trump in 2016 and Obama in 2012. In districts where both Trump and Romney had won in the previous two elections, Democrats gained about a quarter of the competitive seats (Washington Post). Democrats even managed to break even in net seats in the Senate, though they had faced crushing electoral odds in that chamber. Twenty-five Democratic senators were up for reelection as opposed to only eight Republicans, and many were in states that went solidly red in 2016. Managing to hold the line places Democrats in a fantastic position to retake the Senate in 2020, when the shoe will be on the other foot. While immediate domestic concerns are likely to be given precedence, the effects of the Blue Wave in 2018 are sure to reverberate worldwide.

     This tremendous level of electoral enthusiasm was all the more remarkable in that midterm elections in general are not captivating to most voters. In a normal year, only the most ideologically driven and committed members of the electorate tend to turn out for them, and certainly overseas interest is not typically overwhelming. But in recent years, a radical polarization has gripped the global society’s political atmosphere. The specter of World War Two has risen and people are getting scared. A great acrimony and division has spread through America and the rest of the world. Some are calling it a civil cold war, and its battlefields can be found on many fronts. Trenches are being dug under national borders, in some cases, and along gerrymandered district lines in others. People in all corners of the globe had good reason to pay attention, as the struggles highlighted the dramatic and worldwide trouble the human race is having in getting along with itself.

     The quality of the candidates selected by the two parties speaks in volumes to the quality of those who did the selecting. Democrats elected eight new scientists. Republicans elected three felons and a dead pimp (Post-Tribune). Something has got to give here. Somebody is going to hold power in America, the world’s sole superpower. We have to look closely at whom. The moderate wing of the Republican Party used to have some allies in it. There were men like John McCain, who in spite of their party affiliation was sound and unselfish Americans. Some of them could be counted on for bipartisan dialogue concerning issues of paramount importance. McCain is now gone, however, and with him the moderate wing of the Republican Party. This type of candidate took serious damage in the midterm primaries. They were discarded in favor of candidates more in line with the views of Donald Trump. Many of these came from the ranks of the alt-right, though the elections also played an important role in illustrating a trend of worsening extremity taking root in the far left. Only center Democrats have reliably proven they can put themselves to the side enough to do what is best for the country.

     The 2018 election was in many ways a referendum on the 2016 election, and the events immediately surrounding it. The victory of Donald Trump combined with Brexit constituted significant blows to the American-led, liberal world order, and empowered the radical right. It also empowered Russian president Vladimir Putin, who had spent millions of dollars to defeat Hillary Clinton and get a guy in office he found more pliable. “Putin likes Trump because he supports this view of the world, that the big guys can carve it up,” explained former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov in an interview for Gentlemen’s Quarterly. After Trump won, Kasparov, who is Putin’s former opponent in a Russian presidential election, wrote some predictions down in his new book on the future of the Western world order, Winter is Coming. He believed we had eighteen months in which to turn around the sequence of events that had been started, two years at the most. If we didn’t find a way by then, he felt, it would probably be too late. I thought of those words many times on the way to the voting booths this year. They perfectly summarized the reason it was so important for the Democrats to win the midterms in 2018. Only the full force of American conviction can activate its might enough to keep the world safe for democracy.

     Today’s world, like today’s Republican Party, is busy coping with an uptick in reactionary far-right movements, movements that in many cases and nations border on fascism. Alt-right candidates were present in greater number than ever before in the 2018 midterms, and this too is part of a worldwide trend. From Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil to Norbert Hofer in Austria, adherents of racist nationalism have been growing increasingly violent and brazen. A man screams “Hail Trump!” in a movie theater; another during a performance of the Fiddler on the Roof. “Middle America is rallying to the flag of the alt-right,” said Kyle Bristow, a self-described member of the “alt-right” and the attorney of infamous white nationalist Richard Spencer. These candidates mostly lost, but their sheer proliferation is a terrible sign. It goes without saying that all of them were Republicans. The race was representative of the political atmosphere worldwide in that it was ideologically polarized. It saw its fair share of triumphs for liberals and progressives, but it also saw a rise of far-right, white nationalist candidates. Some of these were victorious. The low quality of the Republican candidates has negative consequences for every level of government.

     A Democratic retaking of the House of Representatives was a critical first step in containing and reversing this virulent problem. It is why the Resistance showed up in such numbers at the polls. For two years, liberals and progressives have been helpless to do anything but sit idle, as one travesty after another has rocked the global community. We have not had the power to protect our people, or even to get many others to listen or to understand our plight. But with the power to form committees of Congressional inquiry, we can finally start to put the bad guys under a microscope. The power of the House is, in this case, the power of defense.

     The elections were not completely without problems for the Democrats. It showed us that ideological faultline is still existent not only in the Republican Party but in the Democratic as well. The rift between the supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton has healed to an extent, and there have been improvements made in this area. Our shared victory in the midterms demonstrated that the progressive wing of the party is beginning to learn from the tremendous mistakes they made in 2016, where undercurrents of far left hard feelings allowed the Russians an easy way to turn the 2016 Democratic primaries into a zoo. The radical left’s extreme love for the Bern reached the levels of a cult by the end of the primary. From the day the Bernie or Bust petition began circulating, it was obvious we were in for trouble. If they couldn’t have Bernie, they said, they would rather have Trump. This attitude was allowed to get highly pervasive, and it killed us in the end.

     This time around, Democrats did a far better job of managing conflicts between the two wings of the party. They simmered at a low boil all the way through the midterm primaries but managed to keep from becoming a fight instead of a contest and ruining the Blue Wave. This is a positive sign, suggesting the far left might have learned from 2016, which is good. Most mainstream Democrats have been pushed to the left as far as we will go, and are starting to get ready to push back. Centrist groups like Third Way have been pushing candidates to read up on history and polling. “The party is not going to go in the direction of Sanders-style socialism, because it’s not winning on the issues and it doesn’t win politically except in a very, very limited number of places,” Third Way president Jonathan Cowan tells TIME. “It’s going to go in the direction that won it two presidencies” (Elliott). The last two two-term Democratic Presidents were mainstream Democrats. [That’s] what’s going to get the House back.” It’s important to emphasize here that mainstream Democrats do not seek reorientation of the party. We’ve been doing an excellent job under the worst possible conditions.

     Progressive Democrats from the Sanders wing were not without a few reasons to cheer in November’s elections. The upset primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over twenty year veteran Joe Crowley for New York’s 14th District stood out on a number of levels. Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest Representative ever elected, and her zealot’s love for socialism has given the Sanders wing a new face and voice to cheer for. My thoughts are that this is not the worst thing in the world, because we need them, and it appears that some healing has taken place. Clinton supporters and Sanders supporters used to very nearly hate each other, and that no longer feels as acutely so. It appears that the left has achieved a degree of unity for now, but it remains to be seen whether this newly placid status quo can survive another presidential primary.

     The immediate battles to be faced come January in the House of Representatives are only one part of a much larger problem. Democracy is under attack worldwide. It is being replaced one plank at a time like the proverbial Ship of Theseus. At what point in all this replacing does it become a different ship? Only one thing is certain, at least in the gut level instinct of this writer. Since Trump got elected, this country does not feel the same at all. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, America has been rated as being less than a full democracy for the last two years. The EIU produces an annual review ranking countries on their adherence to 60 distinct democratic values, including electoral processes and press freedom (“America Has Been Classified as a Flawed Democracy”). According to their standards, we’re not a free country anymore. America is now more like Viktor Orban’s Hungary, or Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The rich want to get into power and stay there, and quote the ideals of freedom as the reason they ought to be able to use any means to do so. The only way we can hope to turn this all around is to get the Democrats back into power and keep them there.

     The biggest net effect of the midterms is the Democratic retaking of the House because it gives the sane center of the country back the power of defense. Democrats can now protect our country from anymore disastrous Trump ideas. This also sets back Putin’s plan of attaching more of his tendrils and creepers to the grand old castle walls that hold up our country. Proactive measures are more limited. Democrats can form investigative committees, and hold hearings for the purposes of questioning and gathering information. Resources are certain to focus on raising awareness about the Russiagate scandal and other serious challenges facing our democracy. The conduct of Trump and his allies can be highlighted and brought to the forefront of public consciousness everywhere. It should be understood that even with a legislative chamber in blue hands, Republicans still hold the White House and the Senate, and the cooperation of all three is needed to pass a law. Nothing in recent history suggests hope for bipartisan cooperation on any issue, regardless of the issue’s importance. People will see once again how obstructionist and unfair the opposition is, and afterward, it will be easier to help people understand the truth- everything we hold sacred is in danger. If things keep on as they are, the days of American supremacy will be numbered.

     A close look at the playing field this election has left us with will prove useful as we step into the future. Blue Wave 2018 hit home for the midterms, and it gave us a great start. But the world remains beneath the dark shadow of a large-scale hatefulness and mayhem. The potential for danger and disorder is so great that it seems almost redundant to say so. As someone who has lived through all this, and read not just eight articles about it but hundreds, I feel that this narrative is being neglected and understated. This is due to responsible journalists not wanting to sound alarmist, in some cases, and it’s comforting to tell ourselves we’re in less trouble than we are. But the country’s divisions have been highlighted and exacerbated by hostile foreign powers such as Russia, who also targeted the 2018 midterms. This has added urgency to the issue and made them even more difficult to ignore. Going forward, it will be incumbent on the Democratic leadership, under the new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, to use their regained power dexterously. To show the people of the country that there is a reasonable alternative to the bedlam created by the current administration, resources must be channeled wisely and well. Good thing we’ve got a professional headed for the Speaker’s Chair. We’re really going to need her.

     In studying the political history of America, the scholar will note along with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., who wrote in his Age of Roosevelt that foreign radicalism has never taken deep root here. From the visceral horror felt by the Founding Fathers toward the bloodbath going on in France to the resolute pursuance of seeing an end to the Nazis, America has always managed to resist being taken in by extremism from left or right. The source of our strength as a nation’s people has always lain in our ability to value compromise and moderation, which are necessary if we wish in times of crisis to be able to pull together with the full force of American conviction behind us, like when we fought World War Two. When these values are abandoned, democratic nations start to fall. If we lose our ability to communicate, we clearly can’t coordinate strategy. Only the full force of America’s people can activate its might enough to keep the world safe for democracy.  Our ability to hold the center is why we have become and remained so strong. 

       After looking at all this, a simple question remains. Has America ever faced a midterm election like 2018? In considering its potential impact of it on the country and its global standing, many would argue that the answer lies in the negative. The Trump administration has been a disaster of colossal proportion. Every day that America is represented in its highest office by a man who many would argue is both corrupt and deeply incompetent is a day in which we are vulnerable in the eyes of the world. Resisting his demented policies has taken everything we have, but we managed it even though we held so little power. After two years of that, holding the House of Representatives feels like a tremendous luxury of strength. We can assure the Trump presidency will be a lame duck from this point on. We can’t start setting things to rights just yet, but we can stop the current Oval Office occupant when he tries to do further damage. We can block his cruel new policies, and removing his ability to hamstring our future with corrupt appointees like the Supreme Court’s Brett Kavanaugh. This is why it was so crucial for the Democratic “Blue Wave” to sweep America.

Works Cited

Agerholm, Harriet, 2018. “America falls short of being a full democracy for second year running, report finds.”

/www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/america-democracy-rated-donald- trump-not-fully-democratic-us- president-report-the-economist- a8195121.html

Balz, Dan, and Scherer, Michael, 2018. Washington Post, Washington Post. “For Democrats, A Midterm Election That Keeps On Giving.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/for-democrats-a-midterm-election-that-keeps-on- giving/2018/11/09/b4075ef2-e456-11e8-ab2c-b31dcd53ca6b_story.html? utm_term=.754bc43973ad

Beauchamp, Zack, 2018. “The midterm elections revealed that America is in a cold civil war.”

https://www.vox.com/midterm-elections/2018/11/7/18068486/midterm-election- 2018-results-race-surburb Campbell, Alaistair, 2018. “Garry Kasparov on Putin, Trump, and their deal to carve up Europe.” https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/garry-kasparov-alastair-campbell-interview

Elliott, Philip. Time, Time, 2018. “The Middle Road.”

time.com/5428157/democrats-centrist-midterms/.

Frier, Nancy, 2018. Time, Time, 2018. Facebook Discovers an Ongoing Effort to Influence the 2018 Midterm Elections.

Grand Magazine, 2018. “Urgent: The United States Has Been Classed As A Flawed Democracy.”

http://www.grandmagazine.com/2018/09/urgent-the-united-states-has-been-classed-as-a-flawed-democracy/.




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2018- The Year of the Democratic Woman!

The Year of the Democratic Woman!

Seven Democratic women won their primaries in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, a promising sign for Democrats.

Emily’s List, the political action committee for pro-choice Democratic women recently did a piece headlined with the words, ‘The 2018 Election Looks Like Women’s Work‘.  The organization said to Vox that since Trump’s election last year, it has heard from more than 20,000 women expressing interest in running for elected office.

The group had to knock down a wall in its Washington office to make room for more staff. That’s impressive.

That so many Pennsylvania women are running and winning matches the current political trend. More than twice as many women are running for Congress nationwide in 2018 than in 2016. They’re winning their primaries in large numbers, and the overwhelming majority of those women are Democrats.

“In the three districts that the Democrats have a good chance to pick up- Pennsylvania 4, 5, and 6- the nominees are women,” said G. Terry Madonna, the director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, in an interview.

Madonna cited the #MeToo movement and the Parkland shooting as primary motivations for many women running for office. In Pennsylvania, a number of female candidates made gun control a top priority.

“Throw in the unpopularity of Trump with Democratic women, and you’ve got a mixture that brought women (candidates),” Madonna said.

Women voters, in total, were one of the smartest demographical blocs in 2016, and the disastrous result of that election has galvanized them to action in record numbers. They have taken the country by storm.  The Blue Wave is going to end up landing a lot of women in Congress.

Meanwhile, a string of high-profile departures of prominent Republican women threatens to leave the House with fewer Republican women next year. This also indicates the national trend very well.

Women are disgusted with the Republican Party. They are flocking from it in droves. The endless scandals of sexual abuse that their candidates lug around like baggage have made it harder and harder to turn a blind eye; remember Roy Moore? And the worst of them all is currently the president.

The words and actions of Donald Trump have been so ugly towards women over the years that it’s really impossible to overstate. Stormy Daniels comes to mind.

She recently went public with the full story of intimidation, bullying, and misogyny that she was put through by the slob who is now our President. It’s typical of him. It seems like women have had enough.

Michelle Obama said to Trump voting women who voted against Hillary Clinton that they “voted against their own voice”. It seems as though many have started to figure that out.

The movement of women towards politics this year has not been restricted to candidates. Experienced female political operatives also are getting active like never before.

Their goals are to raise money and awareness, energize volunteers and give female candidates a hand with everything from fundraising to figuring out how to balance childcare during campaigns.

It’s too early to tell how the movement will change Washington in the long term. But it’s clear that a transformation has already begun. In dozens of interviews with TIME, Democratic women talked about what caused that metamorphosis.

In 2016, they were ordinary voters. In 2017, they became activists, spurred by the theft of the presidency from Hillary Clinton, the first major female presidential candidate at the hands of a self-described pussy grabber. And in 2018, they’ve become candidates on the front lines.

We have these doctors and mothers and teachers and executives, diving headlong into the mix and bringing new vitality to a Democratic Party whose need for them is greater than it’s ever been before. A great deal depends on us being able to free this country from the grasp of the criminals who are running it now.

Going forward, we can help this along by making sure our support is felt. We can ask women to share their stories with us and listen when they do. We can make it a point to seek out their perspectives.

We asked for leaders, after 2016, and these are the human beings who have stepped up. Now it’s 2018, and the midterms are nearly upon us.

We’re going to stand behind them every way we can.

Too Far Right- Why It’s Best When The GOP Nominates Their Worst.

Millennial Democrats

For the last several decades, Republican politicians have moved steadily further right, and never has this been so true as now. Candidates of heightening extremity dominate the GOP playing field. They are nominating the wrong candidates all over the country, such as ex-convict Don Blankenship in West Virginia.

After the election of our 45th President, the strategy of many Republican politicians has depended a great deal on how deeply they can demonstrate their adherence to his destructive policies. This has backfired badly. 

The strategy of embracing Trump has torn a rift among Republicans. Radical candidates selected from the far-right have not endeared themselves to moderates, who are largely either voting Democratic or staying home on election day.
A historic example of the effect that this is having was illustrated recently in Alabama, where Doug Jones became the first Democratic candidate to hold that office in decades.  Nominating alleged sexual predator Roy Moore cost the GOP that Senate seat.

In Tennessee, Bob Corker is retiring, and current GOP frontrunner Rep. Marsha Blackburn has made it a point to emphasize her far-right extremism.  “I’m politically incorrect and proud of it,” she says in her announcement video. That is why former Gov. Phil Bredesen has a 10-point lead in the polls.

And in Arizona, the notorious anti-immigrant former Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Kelli Ward may well defeat the mainstream Republican candidate, Martha McSally. This will give better odds to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the general election, to be held November 6th.

In West Virginia, local Republicans are well down the road to hamstringing their own chances. They have only to vote for Don Blankenship as the Republican candidate for Senate in the 2018 Republican primary– and he’s polling stronger all the time.

The aforementioned race is a terrible tangle, in which three leading figures-all of whom hate each other- are engaged in an ugly and intensifying contest, to see who will be the one to challenge the Democratic incumbent, our guy Joe Manchin.
The three of them are 3rd District Congressman Evan Jenkins, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, and former Massey Energy CEO, Don Blankenship.

Jenkins and Morrisey are a couple of highly typical Republican candidates who have characterized their running of the race by attacking each other’s records and competing to see who is the most in line with Trump.

Because the area they’re in swings so far to the right, both will be likely to give Manchin a hard race.

But Blankenship should be different. He has very little chance to win a general election due to the particulars of his situation, i.e. he is the only candidate to have recently been in a federal prison.

He served a year on charges stemming from the 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine that killed 29 men in Southern West Virginia. It was the deadliest U.S. mine disaster in four decades.

The point to hammer home is this- Nominating Blankenship will hamstring the GOP’s chances to control that seat.

These are all examples of a Republican race to the bottom, where the candidates are engaged in a contest, to see who can be the most extreme in emulating the Republican President.

Blankenship, having been out of prison less than a year, is particularly a no-brainer, but these sorts of candidates and scandals are popping up everywhere. They make the Republicans look awful and cripple their chances.

The clearest evidence for this is the Blue Wave sweeping the country. Politifact says that as of February 39 seats have been recaptured by the Democrats.

All of this can only help the Democratic Party, as we fight to win back control of the Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.

#TheBlueWave- Where We Stand, Going Forward.

Millennial Democrats and #TheBlueWave

New House and Senate ratings from CNN point the way to an excellent set of midterms for the Democratic Party.

That said- Beware complacency.

Those two words are so gigantic in this case, that they could be the whole article.

There’s a number of different factors at play in the political scene of America at this time. Some of them are in no way American, but most of them are.

One of the biggest is voter apathy.

Millennial readers, ask yourselves this: How many conversations have you had, with people our age about politics, in which you have heard somebody say: “Ah, all governments are fascist. There’s no difference between one or the other.” Or had a menu of talking points from Fox News or Infowars with them?

Many others act like they’re afraid to talk at all, either because they don’t know enough, or because they don’t care enough, or because people get so intense about it.

This is the state of things when a polarity this extreme and disparate exists between the people of the country.

People aren’t getting their information from the same places anymore. You can tell when you’ve been talking to someone deeply indoctrinated by Rush Limbaugh and the Breitbart band. You’ll immediately be confronted with a whole galaxy of half-truths, lies, and slanders.

Most of the time you won’t even know what they’re talking about, the stuff will be so out there. And by the time your smartphone has proved them wrong, they’ve already made fifty more specious claims. It becomes clear very quickly that they don’t have any interest in getting at the truth.

You can’t even talk to them anymore.

An understanding of this fundamental truth is where any realistic discussion of how to win the midterms must begin.

A great deal of time and money has been invested by those currently in power, seeing to it that those without it remain apathetic and confused regarding the process. Nor have they closed their wallets.

Charles Koch and members of his Seminar Network- donors who contribute a minimum of $100,000 to the various political organizations run by the Koch brothers– have big plans for the midterm elections.

At a retreat this weekend, the group announced plans to spend between $300 million and $400 million in 2018- a 60 percent increase from its spending in 2016-  to defend Trump administration policies that Charles and David Koch and their network overwhelmingly support- while distancing themselves from a man that is personally unfit to serve as president.

They want it both ways, and they figure with enough cash they can get it. Once the strategy gives them the power they are seeking, they figure it will all be worthwhile. If they can dominate and make a shell of the governmental apparatus, they can change things around all they like. Those changes will be catastrophic to every environment we live in.

We have to find a way to stop them and to do so we will need to surmount some difficult challenges.

Republican standing has improved recently. It’s going to take awhile for people to understand just how stupid those tax cuts were. It’s going to take a while before it hurts them.

CNBC’s John Harwood calls Trump’s tax reform a “remarkable paradox,” as middle America will not benefit as much as the coastal elites his base so loves to stick it to.

Howmuch.net, a cost information website, has created a handy infographic to help us understand how middle-to-low income households are losing.

Howmuch explains that “Some taxpayers would definitely benefit from Trump’s tax reform — especially those at the higher end of the income scale. There are others, however, who would see their tax rates go up. Especially those on lower incomes.”

This is important, because the tax plan is the reason the GOP has been polling better recently. Their strategy going forward will be to beat that drum as hard as they can. It’s the only legislative accomplishment they’ve got.

Many of them are showing signs of indigestion of the conscience, as evidenced by the fact of so many of the GOP leaders in Congress retiring, but it’s a little late for that.

Another key factor to watch this year will be Russian interference in our elections.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo was asked during an interview with the BBC on Monday whether he anticipates a Russian influence campaign later this year.

“I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that,” he said.

“But,” he added, “I am confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election — that we’ll push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won’t be great.”

What a joke.

Later the same day as those comments were made, the Trump administration announced that it will not impose the new Russian sanctions. And the other Republicans are just as bad. All of them are complicit in the biggest treason of all time.

Aside from all that, there’s the usual electoral stuff to consider. The House, in which Democrats need a 24-seat pickup to win the majority, looks very favourable. And ever since the stunning victory of Alabama’s Doug Jones, a plausible path to control of the Senate has arisen.

 

If the Blue Wave is indeed going to sweep over this country in the midterm elections, we are going to have to work very hard, because nobody is going to do it for us. It can and will happen because we will be here to fight for it tooth and nail.

Going forward, the key is to find out which races are the most competitive, target them, and put our resources into fighting for them. We are actively asking our readers for help on this. Anything you’ve got that might be useful, please feel free to send it in. We’ve got a lot of work to do. And it is going to take us all.