Until recently, I never realized how exhausting politics could be.
I, like many of us, have spent the last two years in disbelief at our nation’s cultural regression. The election of Trump as president in 2016 somehow seemed to energize every single retrograde impulse we could have as a country. Empowered women? Nope, better not have any of those. Equal rights for those who don’t meet the “standard” definition of heterosexual marriage? Oh, heck no, let’s roll that stuff back. Embracing the growing multiculturalism of our country? Ewww – no, send ’em all back where they came from!
Never mind that most of “them” came from right here.
So, I settled down in front of the television set Tuesday night, waiting for the country to rise up and repudiate the madness that has emanated from the White House.
Then, I waited some more.
And, finally, after the hundredth refrain of “where is the blue wave?” from the political commentators, I gave up in frustration and went to bed. Apparently, this was just who we are as a nation, and I had better learn to deal with it.
In Search of the Blue Wave
I spent most of the day yesterday looking around the web, trying to piece together a clearer idea of what had happened the previous night.
And I discovered that “No Blue Wave” aside, we were actually not in as bad a shape as I had perceived on Election Day.
Yes, Gillum was defeated in Florida. Yes, Beto O’Rourke went down in Texas. And, yeah, we actually lost a few more Senate seats, despite my quiet hope that maybe we might actually gain a couple.
But even though Beto O’Rourke was defeated in Texas it was by a margin of less than 3% of the vote. With over 70% of those under 30 voting for him. Things are changing in what used to be the most reliable of Conservative strongholds.
And, Gillum didn’t win in Florida, this is true. But, in the midst of the national attention to his defeat, something had gone unnoticed by many of us, myself included.
Amendment 4 got voted into law in Florida. This returns the ability to vote to over a million citizens of Florida who were previously denied that right due to having been convicted of a felony. In Florida, just like everywhere else in the country, the majority of those serving time are minorities. And minorities currently tend to vote against all the things that Trump’s America stands for.
In a battleground state where elections seem to always come down to a difference of a hundred thousand votes or less, the citizens of Florida just returned the right to vote to over a million people who are not naturally inclined toward the current administration.
Encouraged by this discovery, I started looking for other good news. And, wow, did I find it.
The Year of The Woman
It is significant in and of itself that the House flipped back over to Democratic control. In an election where 23 seats needed to change hands to change the majority, 35 actually did so.
The majority of the districts that “flipped” were in the suburbs of various major metropolitan areas. And the #1 group that turned out in droves to drive these critical elections?
Women. Female suburban voters turned out in record numbers, and the majority of them were not voting in favor of our current administration.
It gets better, though. Not only was there a much higher number of female voters, but there was also a HUGE increase in female candidates. Women finally got tired of their 52% of the population being represented by legislative bodies that were over 75% male.
At last count, at the national level, 122 women had won elections for Gubernatorial, Senate, and House races. Still not an accurate representation of women in our population, but holy smoke is it a step in the right direction.
Heck, the only “good” news we had in the Senate races was that a previously Republican Senate seat in Nevada was flipped. The challenger? Jacklyn (“Jacky”) Sheryl Rosen.
Keep On Pushing
All across the country, there were signs of life.
Record numbers of young voters turned out. (Keep it up, young people! This is your future we’re talking about here!)
We elected our first pair of female Muslim representatives. Colorado, of all places, elected our nation’s first openly gay Governor.
We even got not one but TWO female Native American representatives to Congress – the first two in our nation’s history. The folks of Kansas voted in Sharice Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. And I am especially proud to say that I got to help elect Deb Halaand, of Laguna Pueblo, to the 1st Congressional District here in New Mexico.
It was a pretty progressive night for both Kansas and New Mexico, I have to say. Kansas not only put in Ms. Davids, who is both Native American and lesbian, but they also flipped their state governorship from a Republican man to a Democrat woman. And New Mexico actually went whole hog into “blue” territory. We produced election victories not only for our first female Latina Democrat Governor, Michele Lujan-Grisham, but we also voted Democrat in all our state Congressional races.
We need to keep working for this kind of change, across the country. The House of Representatives can now get back to acting to apply the brakes on the President’s “Nationalist” (his word, not mine) agenda for our country. We can hopefully even start returning our focus to our underserved domestic issues.
There may not have been the “Blue Wave” that I and many others were hoping for. But I know as well as anyone that change takes time, despite our desire for instant solutions. We need to keep paying attention, keep talking to our elected representatives, and keep working for change.
Because, meanwhile, the Republican party in Nevada just voted in a deceased pimp rather than vote for a female educator.
And that, my friends, is why we need to not quit now.
Catch you all tomorrow,