Many Republicans are feeling blue this week—not Democrat blue, but sad blue.
Yes, the red wave did not materialize as planned, and for the first time in my memory, polls actually overestimated support for the GOP. Democrats managed to paint the right as Ultra-MAGA extremists hell-bent on “destroying democracy.” Biden’s creepily-lit speech in September, which seemed to come right out of the playbook of a 1940s dictator, was the most divisive speech by a president that I can think of, and … it appears to have worked.
How did the Democrats do better than expected when the nation is experiencing its worst inflation in 40 years, rising crime, insane gas prices, and has a president who is one of the least popular in the history of presidential polling?
Former President Bush the Second’s speechwriter, Marc Thiessen, had thoughts he shared Friday in the Washington Post:
It’s not because voters approve of Biden’s job performance; it’s because they disapproved of the GOP. It’s because in key House and Senate races, Republicans nominated candidates whose main qualification was their fealty to Trump—and voters rejected them. Americans are desperate for change, but not the kind of change that Republicans offered. And because the GOP didn’t give voters what they considered reasonable alternatives to Democrats, Republicans lost winnable races across the country.
I don’t agree with everything Theissen posits there; I think there were a number of good candidates who were offering answers but were somehow successfully painted as dangerous. Republican Lee Zeldin lost the New York governor’s race to Kathy “why do you keep talking about crime?” Hochul, while Dr. Oz incredibly fell to John “I support fracking wait no I don’t” Fetterman. Zeldin offered an alternative to Hochul, and focused heavily on crime, while Oz… even if you don’t particularly like him, wasn’t he a better choice in almost every way than Fetterman?
The criticism against former President Donald Trump has been turned up to 11 since the results came in, and he is inexplicably attacking members of his own party, specifically Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. Although I’ve been a strong Trump supporter and thought he brought the GOP off life support when he entered the arena in 2015, I am frankly baffled at these latest moves. Some say he’s clearing the way for his expected run for 2024, but this seems like a destructive way to do it.
That’s a quick summary of the bad news, and there’s probably more to come. Blame, finger-pointing, and pained examinations of what happened will now occur ad nauseam.
Lost in all of this, however, is the good news: the Republicans look like they’re taking the House. Certainly not by the margin we had hoped for, but still enough to yank the gavel away from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s gnarled fingers. This is huge. As Theissen writes:
…[Voters] appear to have given Republicans a majority in the House of Representatives—if a narrow one, from what’s clear so far—which means that President Biden’s power to spend trillions of dollars with Democratic-only budget reconciliation bills is revoked. [Emphasis mine.]
In other words, although the GOP won’t have world-changing power, they are at least in a position to thwart some of the Mad Spender’s behemoth, inflation-causing bills. A year ago, that would have seemed like a pipe dream, but here we are. And who knows? The Senate is still up for grabs as of this writing—perhaps it will still turn red.
The elections for offices that affect your daily life more than any other are the ones closest to you. And school board races around the country saw movement towards sanity.
For more from the good news department, there’s a new Republican power base in Florida, and it appears to be formidable. It’s not based in Mar-A-Lago, though. Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Marco Rubio both performed like rock stars on Tuesday, and both even managed to take the formerly liberal enclave of Miami-Dade County.
We didn’t get all of what we wanted, but we’re in a better place than we were on Monday. Despite our disappointment, we should still take solace in that. The Democrats did effectively manage to demonize half the country and scare the heck out of the other half, and we can’t let that happen again. I don’t think denying the outcomes of elections is the way to win—fighting to get the systems fixed is the better approach. And while Trump is exasperating right now, the one thing I always liked about him is that he didn’t take things lying down. If you criticize him, he’ll come back at you twice as hard. Empowering other Republicans to do that instead of being milquetoast doormats has netted us a new crop of fighters.
We need to focus on what good did come out of this midterm cycle, and fight harder the next time against the narrative that every conservative is a racist, fascist, Q-Anon thug who wants to overthrow democracy. We know who we are. We are Americans, and we believe in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.