Let’s get this out of the way. Beto O’Rourke lost. Andrew Gillam lost. Stacey Abrams is likely to lose in Georgia, thanks in no small part to systematic voter disenfranchisement by her opponent. We lost Senate seats in Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri, and possibly Florida. In the immortal words of esteemed American poet Walt Whitman, “that blows chunks, dude.”
But believe it or not, the Blue Wave that pundits have been feverishly predicting the past two years? It actually was a Blue Wave, and it’s important not to lose sight of that. This isn’t just me trying to frame the glass as half full before I take another shot of absinthe out of it and fall asleep crying, it’s a genuinely awesome result for the Democrats (and by extension, America) that will have some great ramifications going forward. Here’s why:
We’ve taken the House of Representatives, and yanked the gavel from Paul Ryan’s sad Ayn Rand-obsessed hands, just in time for him to retire and live the rest of life grazing on a Koch Industries farm. Whether that’s by 25 seats or 40 seats remains to be determined in the lingering too-close-to-call elections, but control of the House means a lot of good things:
- Nancy Pelosi is Speaker — that’s right, Republicans’ second favorite boogie-woman is back on top, baby (but nobody will ever replace the true object of their obsession, their love, their never-dying hate-on, Hill-dawg). Say what you will about Pelosi (and trust me, I know she’s definitely not a shepherd of progressive politics), but Obamacare wouldn’t have been possible without her competence at unifying House Democrats.
- Democrats are now in control of every House committee. Maxine Waters can subpoena Trump’s tax returns. Adam Schiff takes over for Trump errand-boy Nunes in the Intelligence Committee.
- All of those things you’ve read about over the past two years, that you’ve been frustrated haven’t had any consequences — Trump’s sketchy business ties with Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia (to name a few), Emoluments Clause violations and refusing to divest from his businesses, directly influencing an FBI headquarters move to help Trump Hotels, pay-for-access Mar-a-lago $200,000 memberships, on and on and on — they’re all finally on the table.
- The Mueller Investigation into Trump’s conspiracy with Russia to influence the 2016 election — of which there are already dozens of convictions and indictments, including Trump’s campaign head and national security advisor — is safe.
- We won’t be able to pass legislation, at least until 2020 (because passing laws requires passage in the Senate and a signing by the President, and neither Trump nor the Senate Republicans have shown any willingness to compromise on anything we hold dear over the past decade) — but that also means that we can shut down legislation that we don’t like! If Trump wants to pass a law to throw piranhas into Rio Grande, he can sure try, but it’s not going to get past the House. Repealing pre-existing conditions and Obamacare? Nope. Is Mitch McConnell itching to throw another $1.5 trillion dollars at his corporate sponsors before receding into his shell? Too bad.
We’ve taken back the Governorships from Republicans in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin in particular is a huge deal, because the former Republican Governor Scott Walker has been one of the leading anti-union and voter-disenfranchisement voices for the past decade.
- Kansas is also a big deal, because Trump goon Kris Kobach was defeated. You may remember Kris as the head of the voter fraud panel wasting taxpayer money searching for the truth to Trump’s habitual lie that “millions of people illegally voted in 2016.” Weirdly, he couldn’t find any of those millions of people.
- Most importantly (and possibly even more important long-term than the House race), breaking up the Republican “trifecta” of state control (governor, both state congressional bodies) in a lot of red states means that they won’t have unfettered access to redistricting in 2020 after the census. What this means:
- In 2010, there was a wave election for the Republicans as the “scared white person” response to a terrifying Muslim Socialist Kenyan President coming to take their guns and personally abort their children. Because this was a census year, where state district lines are redrawn (once every 10 years), this allowed the Republicans to gerrymander the shit out of a lot of states.
- This has given them a huge leg up in both state elections and House races for the past eight years. For example — in 2010, Republicans took 63 House seats with a popular vote win of 7.2%. We’re on track today to take 33 or 34 House seats, even though we outvoted them by 9.2%. This systematic unfairness in the map thanks to 2010’s loss can be undone (the next census is 2020, which gives us even more time next election to take more seats).
In the Senate, we always had a massive uphill battle, as this Senate map happened to be the worst for Democrats in decades, thanks to happenstance and the way that the Senate’s 6-year terms rotate. Even still:
- We’re looking likely to kick out “Dirty Dean Heller” in Nevada.
- Sinema in Arizona and Nelson in Florida are still too close to count.
- While it’s disappointing that Beto lost, he got closer to a Senate victory than any Democrat in Texas since the 1980s, which shows a slow trend left for the state. “Human” candidate and professional “liking an incest tweet on 9/11” sicko Ted Cruz may have just barely won this time, but it’ll be a lot harder for him next time as more people realize that he’s just a few thousand larvae controlling a leather bag with eyeholes cut into it.
- Most importantly, the Senate map shifts in 2020. In this election, we had to defend 26 Senate seats versus the Republican’s 9, and many of the ones we unfortunately lost or came close to losing were in deep Red states. In 2020, it’s almost the complete opposite, 20 Republican seats to our 10.
See, the top-level picture isn’t that bad! You can put away the Depression Tequila and take out the Celebration Tequila (note: they’re probably the same bottle of tequila). In addition, when we look more closely at the races, things start to look even better for the Democrats. Hotter. Sexier. If the below doesn’t ruin your No Nut November, nothing will:
- The candidates who flipped Red districts that, in a normal election, they might not have had any chance to flip — they’re mostly young, inspirational, really intelligent and cool people.
- Lauren Underwood surprised everyone with a win as a young black Democratic woman in a traditionally Republican suburban Illinois district (read: white as a polar bear in a snowstorm wearing a KKK hood).
- Anthony Delgado, a Rhodes Scholar and Harvard Law graduate, fought off racist attack ads from Paul Ryan’s Super PAC in mid-state New York trying to frame him as a “big city rapper.”
- Abby Finkenhauer ties Alexandra Ocasio Cortez for youngest woman elected to the House (after both their wins, with AOC’s less in doubt), and both have emerged as progressive leaders of a younger party.
- Collin Allred beat out 22-year Republican sycophant Pete Sessions in a conservative district of Texas, and Gina Ortiz Jones came within spitting distance of a win. Both are progressive voices in a state that’s turning more blue every year.
- Abigail Spanberger beat out Dave Brat in Virginia’s 7th district. He was a member of the House Freedom Caucus (the nuttiest of right wing nutjobs in government) and a Trump endorsement. She is a Democrat and former CIA agent who was running in a district in the suburbs outside of D.C. that has trended 6% more Republican than the national average. Sound like the start to a romantic comedy? No, it probably doesn’t.
- Harley Rouda looks likely to dethrone Dana Rohrabacher in California. Known as “Russia’s favorite congressman,” Rohrabacher was the subject of Republican Kevin McCarthy’s back room comments in 2016 that “there are two people, I think, Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” The loss yesterday couldn’t happen to a nicer traitor to the country.
There are a ton of other wins that indicate a country changing for the better:
- There are now over 100 women in Congress for the first time in American history. This sure isn’t a 50/50 split yet, but it’s progress.
- Colorado’s new Democratic governor Jared Polis is the first openly gay male to win the position.
- Two Native American women (Sharice Davids of Kansas and Debra Haaland of New Mexico, both Democrats) became the first two elected to Congress.
- Two Muslim women (Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, both Democrats — sensing the trend?) became the first two elected to Congress.
- There were first female governors, first black members of the House from some states, a first lesbian mom in Congress (and “why couldn’t all Representatives be lesbian moms” is the question of the night).
- A Democrat won in Staten Island, which is about as crazy as a clown scaring people in Staten Island (and yes, this is the only sourcing I’m going to do in this article — google the rest).
- New York state finally has a trifecta in the state government, which could allow for more progressive steps to be taken throughout the state (as much of a shithead Cuomo is, even he might not be able to stand in the way of progress).
And less talked about than the wins, but still just as important for our country’s progress, a bunch of progressive ballot measures passed in various states, many of them very red:
- Amendment 4 in Florida passed, which allows 1.4 million new people to vote who were previously disenfranchised for important felony-worthy reasons like “smoking weed while black” and “driving while black” and “existing while black.” This doesn’t mean that the re-enfranchised will all vote Democrat, or vote at all, but it’s a huge step in making sure we’re living up to what our country is theoretically supposed to be about (freedom and liberty and all those flowy things).
- In Louisiana, voters eliminated a Jim Crow-era law that allowed non-unanimous juries to deliver a guilty verdict for felony charges. This previously was, pardon my French, some KKK-ass bullshit designed to, once again, punish African Americans, that only a single state now supports. Oregon, get with the dang program.
- Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah all voted to expand Medicaid. This puts up to 300,000 low income Americans onto a healthcare plan, which is fantastic if you prefer that people don’t die for the crime of being poor.
- A bunch of environmental amendments passed as well: Offshore drilling ban in Florida (weirdly coupled with a vaping ban in workplaces, because why not). Georgia will be giving more money to land conservation from now on. Nevada’s increasing its reliance on renewable energy.
Finally, one last bit of good news for anyone disappointed by the Florida elections: as climate change takes greater effect over the next few decades, Florida’s importance in Congressional and Presidential elections will diminish as it’s slowly reclaimed by the sea, alligators, and bath salts.
We’ve all been feeling the strain of the past two years, the unchecked banana republic corruption, and the constant stream of embarrassing, geriatric, fascist, narcissistic, racist bullshit coming from the mouth of our yogurt-brained commander in chief and his lineup of Iago advisors. I definitely feel it, and I’m not sure I realized how badly I had until I was refreshing eight different results and liveblog tabs last night, watching a news livestream, and having a mild anxiety attack when, around 9pm, the 538 projection for the House dipped down to 50%.
And we also, as a party, tend to latch on to inspiring candidates in hard-to-win places who are trying new and novel approaches to government — who, by definition, are always going to be long shots. If and when they lose, we get discouraged, because it’s hard to believe that inspiring rhetoric and stellar backgrounds can’t win out in any part of America against human blobs parroting Heritage Foundation teachings, funded by shadowy Republican billionaires.
But here’s the good news: there are more wins than losses. There are winners in the batch from yesterday who will have long, effective careers in government, changing the way our country is structured. I really believe it.
Just as important: Fascist populist movements demand a second election victory to cement the strength and legitimacy of their gross positions. They can’t succeed with one win, it could be a fluke.
And they lost, definitively. We showed up in record numbers yesterday — in some places, as many voters as in a Presidential election — and we told them that we’re not going to put up with it. We’re going to have to work just as hard in 2020. We have to watch out for Lame Duck attempts by Republicans to pull shady shit from now until January (another shot at repealing the ACA, more tax cuts for the rich, locking more children in cages — you know, their greatest hits). And our victory yesterday doesn’t at all mean that all of our wildest dreams will come true, or that all of the Democrats we elected will live up to their promises.
But it’s a start.