Would it be a Blue Wave? A Red wall? Ultimately it all became a dog’s breakfast. There was a little something in it for everybody. The Democrats got the House, while the Republications strengthened their hold on the Senate. But we’ll soon discover that there was also a whole lot of nothing for everybody as well.
Regardless of one’s political or ideological persuasion, the promise of two more years of pitched partisan battles means that little will get accomplished. It will be spell-binding theatre, the stuff that drives political junkies into deeper addictions and keeps media ratings dangling from the stratosphere. But it will be awful – plain awful for those seeking a new day for democracy itself. Fewer things are worse that watching a democratic estate destroy itself through pettiness, meanness and a ferocious dependence upon money.
It was encouraging to watch the massive voter turnout throughout the day of the campaign, but it was also dispiriting because it spoke to the deep divisions within the American estate. Both sides were pumped. Both sides showed up. And now, more than ever, both sides are at war – a conflict that will endure for years to come.
While the two sides remain laser focused on the other, the real enemies of American democracy will have their way. We know of the environmental catastrophe that is coming and that it threatens the planet, not just Washington, but it plays no part in Congress. And moderate Republicans, where are they? Most have hung up their jerseys rather than take part in becoming the party of only one man who has rebranded an entire party with small mindedness.
And then there is the deep and abiding social costs of the caustic infatuations Democrats and Republicans have for one another. In the last few days of the campaign, when Republicans trumpeted the booming economy, the Opportunity Index was published, saying that 62% of America’s jobs don’t pay enough to support middle-class families. Yes, the jobless rates are down, but the jobs that remain pay increasingly less. It is the creeping problem of hidden poverty in America and neither party addressed it.
The study researched 204 metropolitan regions across America, so it wasn’t some little pet project. ‘We were shocked to find out it’s only 38 percent of people who get the middle-class life or better,’ said Ryan Bhandari, one of the researchers. A disproportionate amount of the wealth presently generated in America is bypassing the very people and their families who built the great middle-class America that once was. Now, they struggle to survive and they only remain important for their votes.
Racism, hatred, poverty, inequality of both the economic and gender kind, a severe decay of the nation’s infrastructure backbone, foreign enemies, and massive deficits – these work away beneath the surface while both sides say they can make America great. The United States is a remarkable, dynamic and privileged nation, but true greatness only comes from a great people, and right now they’re divided more than ever.
To be sure, there were moments of hope and welcome breakthroughs. A record number of women elected to the House of Representatives, two of them Muslim, two indigenous – both historic firsts – the youngest congresswoman ever (29 years of age), breakthroughs at state levels and the aforementioned high voter turnouts – these turned rabid political moments into human ones. But one is left with the sense that the game of revenge politics is more alive than ever and now both Democrats (House) and Republicans (Senate) have the power to enact it.
Donald Trump indicated yesterday that he will be a wounded president following these mid-terms. The problem is that America is wounded and hurting at so many levels that have been ignored by either party. The pain isn’t going away, but, like House seats, will merely get shuffled around in a tribute to political process.
It’s odd and tragic that a Washington that spends so much time and energies on politics cares so little about it. Power is its aim. Politics was historically to be about the humanizing of that power, the sharing of its might with communities across the country and occasionally around the world. But the millions watching the melodrama unfold relentlessly aren’t really central to the theme anymore. What truly matters is the game of corrosive power and nothing about this election will change that until emerging grassroots movements infuse both parties.