I would not describe what Democrats are feeling this morning as joy — that would have necessitated wins by Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams, and J.D. Scholten. But I would describe it as relief tinged with happiness, thanks to a legit blue wave in the House of Representatives (the largest shift toward the Democrats since 1948), and big losses for Scott Walker, Kris Kobach, and Dana Rohrabacher, among other villains. It’s relief because the Democrats will finally be able to exercise some oversight over Donald Trump; it’s relief because there will be gridlock, and gridlock is so much better than Trump and the Republicans running rough-shod; and relief because it’s not all terrible anymore. I mean, Paul Ryan’s gone! How bad can things be?
Also, Maxine Waters can now make Donald Trump’s life a living hell, and man, that is exciting.
The dark Red States seem to be redder than ever (except Kansas and that one district in Oklahoma!), and that is disconcerting, but by God, Texas went Purple, and Democrats may very well pull out that Senate seat in Arizona. As far as 2020 is concerned, it always comes down to five states: Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida, and Democrats did better than Republicans in three of those, while Amendment 4, which gives the right to vote to 1.4 million people in Florida (including 40 percent of Florida’s black men) could swing Florida back toward the Dems in 2020 (since that state always comes down to 50,000 to 100,000 votes). The electoral map based on last night’s results and the overall popular vote looks favorable for the Democrats. What’s also interesting about Texas is that Beto O’Rourke lost by less than two points, and places like Houston are clearly trending Democrat, and if the Democrats can put forward a candidate (like Beto) who could potentially win Texas in 2020, Democrats wouldn’t have to worry about Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, etc. If Democrats could add Texas to New York and California, it’s game over.
Sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself, but that’s what was so remarkable about Beto’s run. He helped Dems pick up a lot of seats in the House, and for the first time in a generation, he puts Texas back in the mix. Earlier this year, a Gallup poll showed that 54 percent of Texans said they disapproved of Trump, so it’s not out of the question, and Beto is the reason why.
Anyway, there’s just so much good news coming out of last night, and so much hopeful news for the future that I don’t even know where to start. Women, and especially women of color, led the wave. Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland will be the first Native American women in Congress. lhan Omar and Rashida Tlaibb become the first Muslim women in Congress. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez becomes the youngest member of Congress; in Colorado, Jared Polis becomes the first openly gay man to be elected governor of a US state. Ayanna Pressley is the first black women elected to Congress in Massachusetts. Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia will be the first Hispanic women to represent Texas in Congress. Janet Mills becomes the first female Governor of Maine. Abigail Spanberger beat Tea-Party f*ck Dave Brat in Virginia (congrats Billy); North Carolina lost its court packing bid and will be able to un-gerrymander that state; Democrats picked up a lot of Governor’s seats, and they also took control of several state legislatures. Turnout was huge (an estimated 114 million votes, compared to 83 million in 2014), which is good for Democracy. Even in her (likely) loss, Stacey Abrams performed significantly better than the Democrat did in 2014 (48 to 44 percent of the vote), which also bodes well for the future of Georgia.
There are a lot of formerly Red States trending Blue — Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas — and that’s going to continue in that direction, and while we’re going to have to throw in the towel on the Deep South, Indiana, and a lot of those Plains states, things are looking up overall.
But mostly, I’m just fucking relieved. We can’t grow complacent, of course, and we must continue to resist. But we can also take an hour a week and relax and watch the final season of Game of Thrones without fear that Trump is going to take away health care. I don’t know what the Democrats are going to do with control of the House (that’s a conversation for later), but I hope they stick it to Trump and spend a year investigating the sh*t out of him, and hopefully in 2020, Democrats can do an even better job of picking up on some of those themes that O’Rourke (and Obama) were pushing, which is that — forget everything else for a moment — we’re fighting for the character of this country, and if we can frame the debate around character, we can win, and then we can relax and watch all the Game of Thrones prequels in 2020 and beyond, too.