Tbe midterm election results were a mixed bag, to say the least. The Democrats did win a majority in the House of Representatives, which will provide something of a check on President Trump. Armed with subpoena power, Democrats will have plenty to opportunity to explore the worst excesses of a floridly corrupt administration.
Democrats also picked up a number of governors’ seats, which are critical for two reasons. First, states can set their own policies in opposition to the White House. More important for the long term, Democrats will have the opportunity to redraw Congressional districts once the 2020 census is complete and correct the gerrymandering that Republicans have engineered to reduce Democratic chances of victory.
But the election results were also dispiriting. Faced with defending an inordinate number of seats in conservative states, Democrats lost some key races, including Indiana, Missouri and Florida. In some cases, they are being replaced by Republicans, like Missouri’s Josh Hawley and North Dakota’s Kevin Cramer, who have been unabashed in their embrace of anti-LGBTQ groups.
Worst still, the election sent a message to GOP candidates that trying to out-Trump Trump is a winning strategy. Instead of turning off voters, the hard lurch to the right and the barely concealed racist dog whistles (such as in the Florida and Georgia gubernatorial races) seem to animate Trump’s base, offsetting any enthusiasm from Democrats desperate to return the nation to something like normal.
That makes extreme rhetoric all the more likely, particularly from Trump as he heads into re-election. If you think his George Soros, caravan, birthright attacks were outlandish, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Trump could always write the midterm results off as a failure of the other candidates. He won’t have that luxury in 2020, which means he will do or say anything to protect is own hide, even if it incites violence.
The results also show that the Democrats labor under structural disadvantages. Democrats won millions more votes this year than Republicans, but you could hardly tell that from looking at the final results.
In Republican-controlled states, the GOP has crammed as many Democrats into as few districts as possible. A Pennsylvania court threw out the Congressional map this year as blatantly unfair, but in most other states, there’s nothing to stop Republicans from putting a thumb on the scales in their favor.
At the same time, the founding fathers’ wish to preserve the rights of rural states has created an upside-down world where California has as much representation in the Senate as Wyoming.
At present, the country is divided almost equally in two. Liberals will keep hoping that at some point the country will come to its senses, either out of disgust for Trump or simply because of demographic changes.
But the 2018 elections show that that day may be a long way off. And after this election’s results, it may be best to start preparing for President Trump’s second term. The odds of it aren’t nearly as small as you might like to believe.