Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Still Divided in America

The split election result seems to me to perfectly illustrate our national condition. Democrats won the House by taking suburban districts where many people, especially women, find Trump appalling; Republicans expanded their advantage in the Senate by winning big in rural areas and across the South. Many races were decided by one or two percent; 49.6 to 48.4 for governor of Wisconsin, 50.7 to 49.3 for the hotly disputed House seat in Charleston, SC.

We are closely divided. We are also charged up about it; preliminary counts show that 114 million people voted, up from 83 million in 2014.

Considering that the economy is booming like it hasn't since 1999, this is an impressive win for the Democrats. But it may actually be the best possible result for Republicans other than Trump himself. Holding the Senate means they can continue to appoint conservative judges. Losing the House means they cannot advance any legislative agenda, but really with their tax cuts in place they had no agenda to advance, so that hardly matters. Trump can "triangulate" like Bill Clinton, claiming credit for successes while blaming Democrats in the House for anything that goes wrong. The only danger for Republicans in this scenario is that, unable to pass liberal bills, House Democrats will throw their energy into investigating the many scandals of Trump and his people, and that something really bad will turn up.

The election provided more examples of people who vote for Republican candidates but for Democratic issues. For example, big increases in the minimum wage passed in Missouri and Arkansas. Even more interesting to me is that despite a hard Trumpian turn in Florida the electorate rescinded the state's lifetime ban on felons voting; can anybody explain that one?

And once again we see that in America extremism is a dangerous game. The Democrats won the governorship in Kansas, the homeland of "what's the matter with Kansas?", not because the people are any more liberal but because the Republicans simply pushed conservatism too far.

My forecast: many more years of ugly division and partisan struggle.


Anonymous said...

Dear John,

Notice you give rural and Southern voters a complete "pass" on the blatant racism and dog whistles of a nearly all-white campaign, which the recipients found vastly appealing and responded to with alacrity. Your analysis is a bit blinkered, my friend. It is not the presence of minority candidates which makes an election "racially charged."

John said...

Racism can explain the minimum wage votes, but what about the votes for felons? Denying felons the vote is an old racist tactic in the South. So why would Floridians, who as I said seem to be in a Triumpian and racist mood, endorse letting felons who have served their time vote?