It’s now the day after election day and current Democratic losses seem kinda grim if you’re looking at Texas – we didn’t flip a senate seat, we didn’t get governor or lieutenant governor, and we didn’t flip the whole state blue. Last night my Facebook feed was pretty bleak, with people feeling defeated and ready to call it quits. By “quits” I mean they felt that they had failed and lost, that there seemed to be no point to their efforts since the “Blue Wave” wasn’t as big as desired or expected.
My main concern now is that Democrats and first-time midterm voters are going to see losses, be demoralized, and throw their hands up and never vote again. Republicans rally around their party like the world will come to an end if they don’t vote Republican. What I’ve seen time and again is Democrats, Independents, and Liberals of one form or another vote, lose a race, and then say voting doesn’t matter and not only do they proclaim they’ll never vote again, but they tell other people to never vote because it doesn’t matter. (Sitting through political diatribes when you’re just trying to shelve books in the History section gets old, but at least I got to hear from actual people about these things.) This is a gross generalization, but almost a decade in college (with an undergrad and two graduate degrees) and several years working in a book store gave me insight into what people were thinking; my stint as a political blogger helped as well, but listening to people bemoan that they lost the presidential election meant that voting was meaningless gave me more insight than reading comments about how I was a GOP shill or a Liberal cunt (don’t miss those days at all. AT. ALL.).
My point is that politics is full of winning and losing, ups and downs. You don’t win if you decide that a lost race means everything hopeless. The gains made by Democrats last night are significant – Texas Democrats flipped several House seats, and Harris County elected several Democrats to flip the county to majority Democratic control. Of course, we also sent Ken Paxton (currently indicted for criminal securities fraud and failure to register as an investment adviser) and George P. Bush (aka That Guy Who’s Trying To Ruin The Alamo) back as AG and Land Commissioner, respectively. Why? Maybe Texans love felons and hate the Alamo, but I suspect it’s more that there was a huge push to Keep Texas Red.
Fresh eyes and minds keep things moving in the right direction. Keeping incumbents to “Keep State/District/etc. red (or whatever)” is a terrible idea and only fosters poor decision making and the worst in political BS. The idea that single-party control is best for the country and voters is short-sighed and foolhardy – the idea that yours is the only opinion that matters makes it difficult to effect real change, but I suppose that’s the point when the status quo is so comfortable. But if that’s the case, why campaign on changing? Why say you’re going to Make America Great Again and then do the same old thing over and over because being in power is more important to you than anything else? Running on obstructionism for the sake of obstructionism is another problem I have – there are things that must be obstructed (fascism, injustice, corruption), but running on a platform of obstruction because you don’t like that your party didn’t win the White House, or because you don’t like Democrats in general, isn’t sustainable in the long term. What happens when you fail to live up to peoples’ expectations? or when they start having expectations beyond just “sticking it to the Libtards”?
Anyway, I’m happy with the net gains made this time around, even if every incumbent wasn’t defeated. Giving up only tells your opponent that you don’t care and they can continue doing whatever the shit they want to do with no regard to opposing opinions. If you’re upset and disappointed today, turn it around and stay involved at the local level. National politicians always start local and work their way up, and if you want to influence the country on the national stage you have to start from the ground up. Get involved, vote in Primaries, and support your local politicians. They’re the ones you’ll be sending to Governor’s offices, the House and Senate, and the White House.
Full disclosure: I am friends with several “voluntaryists” and I’ve known many who don’t vote for religious reasons (“in the world, not of the world,” is their primary reason). I’m not speaking of them. I’m talking about people who get fired up and then decide that a loss means they should never try again. Another disclosure: I’ve historically voted as a Moderate Independent (neither Democrat nor Republican, but voting either one, or Libertarian, as I find candidates who seemed to be fit for the job). This year, I made the distinct choice to not vote Republican at all – the first election I’ve done that. My personal view is that too many Republicans either supported, sought support from, or were indifferent to problematic and harmful white nationalist ideologies and people that I couldn’t, in good faith, support the party as a whole. As Jim Wright at Stonekettle Station said, “I didn’t leave the Republican party. The Republican party left me.”
Edit 1: An additional thought is that we have a system of checks and balances built into the governmental structure in the US – the executive, legislative, and judicial branches are supposed to work together and provide a check to the other’s power. The other form of checks and balances comes from multiple parties and ideas working together. If you’re eliminating other parties from involvement, then there’s no effective check to power or corruption, no balance of ideas or power to keep the party on track. And if voters are incentivized only to Keep The State Red, rather than voting on a variety of issues and considerations, then it seems as though there’s no effective voter checks to poor decisions either.