The midterm elections could hardly have turned out better.
Neither party came away with a “mandate.” The Democrats held onto the Senate, the Republicans took over the House, but both by such slim margins that neither will get much done for the next two years without a least a smattering of bipartisanship.
There’s not going to be any single-party legislation getting through Congress. Therefore, whatever legislation is enacted is likely to be better received in both Republican and Democratic strongholds.
One of the reasons that Mississippi has not expanded Medicaid, for instance, is because it was part of a legislative package, the Affordable Care Act, that made it through Congress without a single Republican vote. That earned the legislation the “Obamacare” moniker, which has proved toxic in this heavily Republican state, even though the legislation would be more helpful to poor states such as ours than more prosperous Democratic-dominated ones.
One popular post-election theory is that the narrow majorities will give the hard-to-appease fringe elements in each party even more clout. That theory, though, is based on the assumption that both sides have given up on bipartisanship and that, in order to advance their agenda, they will have to do whatever it takes to maintain party unity, even if that means catering at times to some of their “crazies.”
There might be a different outcome, though.
Those at the right of center in the GOP and those at the left of center in the Democratic Party might conclude it’s easier to work with each other rather than the zealots at each end of the political spectrum.
If so, the midterms of 2022 could be a turning point, when compromise loses its relatively recent stigma and again becomes accepted as both the practical and preferable way to get things done.
Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but what is certain is that the election deniers will have a shrinking voice in this country.
The American voters by and large made it clear that they were tired of Donald Trump’s sour grapes over the 2020 election, that they knew his refusal to concede defeat was based on a lie and that to further encourage it by electing the sycophants who perpetuated the lie would be dangerous to our democracy.
According to The Associated Press’ count, only one of the 14 secretary of state candidates nationwide who parroted Trump’s baseless claim that the election was stolen from him won on Nov. 8. That’s especially significant because, as their states’ chief election officials, their obvious and unsupported bias would have led voters in their states to be skeptical of any future outcomes in which the results were close.
Throughout our history, the American people have generally trusted election results. Lose that trust, and it only takes a little demagoguery to produce chaos, such as what transpired at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Election deniers also did poorly in gubernatorial races, losing in no less than five presidential battleground states — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Arizona.
The generally poor fortunes of Trump-endorsed candidates in congressional elections also are the main reason the anticipated Republican rout on Nov. 8 did not materialize. The former president proved himself to be very good at promoting GOP candidates whom the Democrats had the best chance of beating.
Trump’s victory in 2016 is now looking more like a fluke than a movement.
In 2018, his party lost control of the House. In 2020, he lost the White House, and the GOP lost the Senate. And this year, the GOP severely underachieved, even though the Democrats were laboring under an unpopular president and the worst inflation in 40 years.
If Republicans needed proof that Trump’s association with the GOP is one of convenience, not of conviction, they got it this past Tuesday.
Despite the prospect that the nauseatingly early declaration of his candidacy could strengthen the Democrats’ chances of winning in Georgia, where the lone Senate race is still to be decided, Trump went forward with his announcement anyway.
There was little for him to preen about, though. He is starting from a position of weakness. His potential challengers for the GOP nomination now see him as vulnerable, not just in the general election but in the primaries. Trump still has his base, but it looks less formidable in light of the midterms.
Sen. Mitt Romney, one of the few Republicans who has survived standing up to Trump, compared the former president to the aging pitcher who refuses to hang it up but who has lost his stuff. It was a perfect metaphor.
If the GOP comes to its senses and gives Trump the hook, it will have been a marvelous election indeed.
- Contact Tim Kalich at 662-581-7243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.