Hey, guys! This will be a quick post touching on the 2018 midterm elections and some spit-balled political predictions for the near and far futures. (I’m using mainly these two articles as basic references.)
Just getting it out of the way: I thought this year’s “Go Vote” PSAs were particularly annoying and condescending. Obama’s “Voting is just like going to Cochella and posting pictures on your Snapgrams, isn’t that right millenials?” PSA is cringier than “Pokemon Go! to the polls,” I swear to god.
Long story short–the Blue Wave (TM) was less Ocean and more Child-Safe Nashville Shores Wave Pool. I think both partisan sides are being a bit over-hyped in regards to this particular talking point. The Democrats ooing and awing over how the Blue Wave (TM) totally happened are technically right. There was an impressive wave of formerly red Congress seats being switched out for blue; twenty-three seats gained is no small feat. The right-wingers heeing and hawing over how the Blue Wave (TM) was pathetic are also technically correct. Twenty-three new blue seats only put Democrats in a narrow majority in the House, and the Senate is still red, even if by an even smaller margin.
I’m mostly ambivalent about these results. I am a liberal and I would prefer a bluer system of governance, for the most part. I’m not weeping in my room with the lights off over the prospect of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being in the Congress (even if she is probably the worst example of democratic socialism). That being said, the House is the branch of government stereotypically associated with bowing to the transient, popular whims of the public, with representatives who are often inexperienced and suck at navigating the political sphere. And that is definitely the case for many of the new Democrats that got elected. I’m not definitively saying that they’re going to be awful, but I am saying that getting voted into Congress because you rode the wave of a niche political market isn’t a great way to have staying power.
You can talk all you want about how great it is that we got the first Muslim woman in Congress, but if she isn’t at least passingly good at that job, she’s going to be voted out immediately come the next election cycle when the reds who didn’t like her before still don’t like her and the blues, disappointed in her incompetency, will no longer see her as a novelty. That’s why I’m not overly worried about this particular Congress set-up. Yes, it is full of more stereotypical progressive leftists than usual; but the best-case scenario is that, if they do something truly harmful, they’re “radical” enough to be easily ousted from the position come the next election by someone more moderate, and if they actually prove to be competent–yay, we get more competent left-leaners in the government, which is what I would like.
It generally seems like everything is just going to be gridlocked by this current distribution. My prediction is that the new Democrats in Congress are going to push a blindly anti-Trump agenda to the detriment of their own party–Hilary Clinton-style–that will make political polarization among the public worse, but that the split within the House and between the House and Senate will damn near guarantee that almost nothing of substance actually gets accomplished. So pretty much more of the same thing–everyone continuing the grand tradition of Republicans having bad ideas and the Democrats having no ideas, and Donald Trump probably getting re-elected because it doesn’t take a genius to see that the Blue side hasn’t learned a single goddamn lesson about self-delusion and bad PR.
For some bonus liberal hypocrisy: my home state of Tennessee just elected its first congresswoman, but she’s a right-winger, so she, of course, doesn’t count toward all of the historic Firsts that liberals are raving about. It’s almost like ideological alignment is more important than physical demographics when it comes to political representation or something.
The only thing I think the Democrats will actually get accomplished is reformed voting laws, because they’re under the impression that that particular type of reform will help them win more. Because of course. If you think any politician prioritizes anything above winning, you’re a moron. I imagine they’ll tackle the voting laws head-on, which is a mixed bag. They genuinely are in need of some serious reforming. Getting an unaffiliated third-party to draw district lines to avoid gerrymandering is a good idea (and something we inexplicably weren’t already doing). Automatically registering someone to vote upon them getting a state ID or driver’s licence is a good idea. Just psychologically speaking, having the option to opt-out of something you’re otherwise signed up for automatically is a more effective system than needing people to actively opt-in. Fixing that dumbass law that makes it nearly impossible to register to vote if you’re a citizen but only have a PO box is a good idea. I also get the sinking feeling that they’re going to streamline the process for non-citizens to also be able to vote, though, and that is not okay by me.
I’m actually much more interested in the new state laws that were up on the ballot.
Michigan legalized weed for medical and recreational use, which is great. And Missouri of all places legalized medical marijuana, which is a good start and very pleasantly unexpected. Maybe people are finally pulling their heads out of their asses in regards to how the opioid crisis is only made worse by weed being criminalized. A girl can dream. South Dakota voted for it to remain illegal, but the whole ten people who live there can drive up to Canada for their legal fix. It’s a loss but not a crushing one.
Arkansas and Missouri are put on track to raise the minimum wage to something that isn’t utter unadjusted-for-inflation-since-the-90s shit. That’s good.
We’re getting some spicy, spicy criminal justice reform as well. Louisiana now requires a unanimous jury to make convictions. If you are sitting here wondering to yourself, “I thought that’s what everyone did,” I guess not, so congratulations to Louisiana for finally passing a law everybody just assumed that an American state in the 21st century already had. Florida is also allowing ex-convicts to vote now, which is fucking great and probably my favorite point of progress in this entire cycle. Yes, it beats out legal weed as my favorite. Call me crazy, but I don’t like living in a country that operates under the airtight logic of: A.) If you ever go to prison, you won’t be able to vote anymore, and B.) we send so many people to prison that we beat out dystopian hellholes like China when it comes to our incarceration rate. The federal government deciding smoking the jazz tobacco is a jailable offense is no reason to have your voting rights taken away after you serve your time.
What else? Massachusetts upheld that stupid fucking bill that was made as a shallow “Gotcha!” against conservatives in the red-hot fury of everyone being enraged over bathroom usage. I still don’t care. I’m not even against it existing, I just don’t care.
A bunch of places in Middle America expanded Medicaid, which I approve of.
Alabama and West Virginia continue to not like the concept of abortion, shock of all shocks. I really wonder how that bill is going to affect abortion as a necessary medical procedure–you know, the things that public hospitals are required to do, but I highly doubt any conversation about abortion will ever get beyond “YOU KILL BABIES” vs “YOU HATE WOMEN,” so whatever, it’s not like my concern is going to be acknowledged anytime soon.
Also, last but not least, San Fran will now impose a tax on large corporations to pay for the city’s efforts to contend with its staggering rates of homelessness. A.) I wholly approve of San Francisco taking its head out of its ass for long enough to realize it sucks and do something about it. B.) I support this measure. You know who doesn’t though? Giant tech oligarchs like Jack from Twitter and the guys from multi-million dollar software firms. Because their “liberal values” of course only extend so far as social media virtue signaling marketing gimmicks and general pretension. I am surprised by this.*
The Mid-Terms gold star goes to the state of Missouri for suddenly, out of nowhere, deciding to be less shit.