The Blue Trickle
There was supposed to be a “Blue Wave.” Instead Democrats moderately under-performed the average opposition party in midterm elections during the first term of a sitting President.
With the exception of the 2002 elections, which took place just 14 months after 9/11, no opposition party has lost a single seat in either house during the midterm elections of the President’s first term over the last 40 years.
The Democrats lost 3 Senate seats, under-performing average by 6. They have gained an expected 32 seats, out-performing average by 3. The DNC’s performance in governor’s races is exactly average.
Yet the tone on social media leading up to the election, and following it would have you believe that 1) The Democrats’ performance was exceptional, and 2) That there is some sort of death blow to Republican odds in 2020 driven by a massive shift in public opinion and voter turnout.
Neither is true.
There were definitely some bright spots for Democrats. Taking control of the House is not insignificant. President Trump’s chances of passing any meaningful legislation in the next two years is effectively zero. His xenophobic wall will not be funded. Attempting to revoke birthright citizenship will have to wait.
The House will use its investigative and oversight authority to keep the Russian election tampering story alive and well through the Presidential elections.
Both sides have the sound bite to energize their respective bases in the 2020 Presidential campaign that officially starts today.
Additionally, some “dark red” states turned purple this election. Beto O’Rourke made Ted Cruz’s re-election too close for comfort, despite the “tactical malpractice” of running a campaign that could win Beverly Hills, but not El Paso. That does not bode well for Texas Republicans.
While the Democrats lost a razor thin Florida Governor’s race, they flipped Wisconsin, a key battle-ground state in 2020.
The Blue Wave, though, was more of a slow drip. The Blue Ooze.
As that reality sets in, Democrats driven by a media and social media echo chamber to believe that vast majorities support their ideas, will ramp up their attacks on the system itself.
Over a 54 year period, the GOP never held a majority in EITHER House of Congress for more than 2 years, failing to defend majorities in the Senate and House Representatives every time between 1928–1982.
The Democrats enjoyed the majority in the House of representative UNINTERRUPTED for 40 years from 1954 to 1994.
There is no record of Republicans at the time blaming the system of government.
Following President Trump’s election, Democrats have begun to actively sow distrust in the institutions of government. First, the Electoral College, then the Supreme Court, the number of citizens represented by the GOP majorities in the Senate and Governorships, and- in the final act of lunacy- we have begun to hear complaints about “The Popular House Vote” which does not actually exist.
And, for the record, it doesn’t exist when Democrats use it discredit the system, nor when Republicans use it to defend the status quo.
In the 2016 World Series, the Cleveland Indians scored one run more than the Chicago Cubs, who famously won the series 4 games to 3. It turns out that Baseball competitions are not actually about the “popular run total” summing the results of 7 contests, but are about winning the greatest number of smaller competitions known as “games.”
There is no Popular House Vote. There are elections in districts, and this time the democrats won more of them.
I’ve written about losing parties sowing distrust in the institutions of government before. (It’s one of the pieces of writing I’m most proud of. If you haven’t read it, please do.)
The following quote appeared appeared in Vox on the eve of the 2016 election at a time when candidate Trump was already calling the results into question:
“But if the losing candidate doesn’t uphold his or her side of the bargain by recognizing the winner’s right to rule, that acute loss of faith in democracy among the candidate’s supporters can become chronic, potentially devolving into civil disobedience, political violence, and a crisis of democratic legitimacy.”
That is exactly what has been happening for 2 years, and it is getting worse.
It turns out that calling your political opponents “dumb racists” silences them but doesn’t change their minds. It feeds the illusion that everyone moral agrees with you. It drives the disillusionment when the election results don’t match your expectations, and the exasperated need to blame the system instead of your policy and persuasion.
The Blue Trickle is history. Don’t repeat the same mistakes.