Commentary: This election was an intense experience. I'm delighted by the state and local results, impressed by the strong efforts of both sides, but sad for some of the losing candidates.
I felt a certain camaraderie with others working hard (or just rooting) for the election of progressive candidates, including Congresswoman-elect Xochitl Torres Small; there were inspiring moments; but I empathize with folks like Ben Rawson and Yvette Herrell who busted their tails, invested great energy and emotion into campaigning, and probably believed (as fervently as Xochi or Steve or Shannon or Kim) that they were fighting for the best interests of our community and country. I can't help but respect their efforts.
Election Night, David Brooks commented, “This is a great night for humility.” Republicans, he noted, were riding a great economy (albeit a recovery initiated during Obama's tenure), and still couldn't do better. Democrats were opposing a much-disliked president with low approval ratings who struck even supporters as a buffoon, but couldn't do better.
What does all this mean?
Well, a Democratic House majority is a ray of hope for saving our republic. The House will be able to vote down some pernicious legislation and hold hearings (subpoenaing witnesses and documents) on alleged wrongdoing. (They should use that power judiciously, for only the worst abuses.) Trump will oppose them vigorously, rejecting legal requests and mocking the Congress, while hoping a friendly Supreme Court will stretch or ignore laws to protect him.
At least two more years of a Republican Senate means two more years of rubber-stamping unqualified judicial nominees who meet the far-right ideological criteria of the Federalist Society. It means automatic approval of more administrative nominees who are unqualified, inept, and/or corrupt. It means two more years of ignoring climate change, environmental concerns, and consumers. It means that if – yes, if – Robert Mueller's report, or House investigations, uncover solid reasons to impeach Trump, nothing will happen absent grounds so compelling you'd impeach your mother for such conduct.
The election won't cure our incivility epidemic or the uncompromising nature of our leaders (and us). When the Democratic House tries to do its job, Trump will ratchet up the rhetoric and so will Democratic Congresspersons. But the House-Senate split will require some conversation and compromise to keep things going. Meanwhile, Trump's firing of Attorney-General Jeff Sessions and appointment of a dishonest and unqualified puppet may require Senate Republicans to make some tough decisions. Many have said that firing Mueller would be going too far; but will they stick to their words?
We have a lot of work to do. Money is still way too powerful in politics. Economic inequality continues to grow, which is bad for society and for the economy. We continue to ignore serious infrastructure needs, and the Trumpists have hobbled the government financially. We're missing the opportunity to take the lead in the global shift to renewable energy, so that when our rapidly changing climate forces a reckoning, and we finally try to act, we'll be buying Chinese technology, along with everyone else. (In trying to resuscitate coal and subsidize oil and gas, Republicans resemble early 20th Century leaders putting all our money on better horses and harnesses, certain that horseless carriages are a silly notion.)
This election, hard as it was for so many people in so many ways, is a step in the right direction.
And Ms. Torres Small is going to Washington!