It wasn’t a wave, but it was enough to win the House, and that was as good a result as we could have reasonably hoped for in these contentious and tense times.
Here in Florida, Andrew Gillum gave it as good a run as possible and came very close to winning against a Trump puppet who undoubtedly counted on the inner racism of the GOP base here in places where old times there are not forgotten and the idea of a non-white person in the governors mansion in any capacity other than a servant is still cause for pearl-clutching. In the Senate, a lot of voters probably forgot that Bill Nelson was still in office; he is not a dynamic campaigner. But he did get things done, and he tempered the state’s image against that of the weathervane that is Marco Rubio. The only saving grace of having Rick Scott in the Senate is that he will be spending more time out of the state, and with Congress now split between the Democrats in the House and the Republicans in the Senate, nothing will be passed and certain things will be saved, such as Obamacare and Medicaid expansion. I’d rather have him retired and commenting on Fox than in elected office, but at least he won’t be able to do any harm.
Much to Florida’s credit, the voters passed Amendment 4 which restores the voting rights to convicted felons who have served their sentences, adding about 1.4 million voters back to the rolls. That could have a deep impact in the 2020 election if they vote the way the demographics indicate they could. Locally, the voters of Miami-Dade County passed a property tax increase to fund pay raises for public school teachers and support personnel, including school police. Seeing as how teachers here can barely afford to live in the county, it’s a good step forward.
On the national scene, there’s reasons to be encouraged even if some of the hopes for a turnover in the Senate went aglimmering. Beto O’Rourke gave Ted Cruz a very strong run and I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts getting the national attention in 2020. Scott Walker lost the governorship in Wisconsin, Democrats won theirs in Michigan and Minnesota, and in Colorado, voters elected Jared Polis, the first openly gay governor in the nation. They also flipped a House seat in a district that has been reliably Republican since I lived there in the 1980’s. Nevada also went Democratic in both the Senate and the governorship, taking that state back. Most importantly and a result that will have an impact long after this election and the one after it is over, the number of women who ran and won is stunning. Finally, nearly a hundred years after they got the vote, there’s hope that the majority of people in the country will at last have equal representation in the halls of power.
Yes, there was some disappointment. A lot of people — myself included — were hoping for a wave of the scale that would not just beat the Republicans to a pulp but humiliate them and Trump as well. Given his propensity for lying, taking credit where none is due, and skirting blame when he was the cause, he’ll take yesterday’s votes as an endorsement of his campaign style. Starting today — Campaign 2020 began when the last poll closed last night — we’re in for two years of making the last two years look like an episode of Mister Rogers. But at least he won’t be able to pass any legislation.
So there is reason to hope. A lot of it. And temper your disappointment with resolve. Like any movie about competition, the hero always loses the first round but comes back to win. And we’re halfway there already.