ESENDOM

Cultura y conciencia

In Blow to Trump, Dems Take Congress

Politics, NewsNelson SantanaComment
 New faces in politics.

New faces in politics.

By ESENDOM
November 7, 2018

  • Millions went to the polls on Tuesday in a climate of fear instigated by Trump and his white supremacist supporters

  • Days before the elections, a horrendous attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh left 11 people dead

  • For weeks, Trump demonized the massive “caravan of immigrants” seeking asylum in the US

  • In Georgia, Brian Kemp, a “Trump conservative,” won the governor’s race against Stacey Abrams, an African-American woman

  • The newly-elected governor of Georgia Brian Kemp “refused to step aside as Georgia’s secretary of state; he ran for governor of a state while overseeing the elections in that state”, according to The Atlantic

  • The Atlantic also reports that as secretary of state of Georgia, Brian Kemp disenfranchised millions of African-American voters

  • Ted Cruz’s victory in Texas inflicted a heavy blow to Democrats

The much anticipated Democratic Party takeover of the House of Congress is finally here. In yesterday’s midterm elections the Democrats gained 27 seats in Congress, which brings it to a majority total of 228. The number of seats to control the House is 218. But while last night was a victory for Democrats in Congress, the GOP captured the Senate with 52 seats.

The midterm legislative elections were seen as plebiscite on Trump and Trumpism but Democrats fell short by failing to dethrone GOP senators and win key governorship races in Texas and Florida.

What the pundits and Democratic Party strategic did not explain was that the electoral system is stacked up against ordinary people, that is, working class people particularly African-Americans and immigrants of color.

The elections brought back memories of 2016 when pundits and commentators from all the major media outlets predicted a landslide win for Hillary Clinton. The pundits were wrong again. Since the campaign, Democratic Party strategists also put their hopes on mass voter turnout to counter the GOP, creating the illusion that going out to vote was enough to win. What the pundits and Democratic Party strategic did not explain was that the electoral system is stacked up against ordinary people, that is, working class people particularly African-Americans and immigrants of color. Among some of two of the main issues that affect voters are gerrymandering and voter suppression.

In an article published on Nov. 6, British activist and author Richard Seymour explained why the US electoral system is not conducive to yield democratic results:

The harder reality is that the US electoral system, because it has been run as a fiefdom for competing business alliances, has long been exclusionary. Voters didn't stop turning out in 2016. Outside of those funding cartels, it is disproportionately middle class voters who have secured any stake in the electoral system, so that in the current conjuncture it is actively loaded in favour of the nationalist Right.

The Good news

Several races across the country were indicators of the widespread discontent with Trump’s reactionary policies and ideology. The gender divide in the House of Representatives narrowed a bit after this election. Additionally, the House will be more diverse as a newer generation of progressive politicians of Native American, Latino, African and Arab descent will head to Washington, D.C.

Several races across the country were indicators of the widespread discontent with Trump’s reactionary policies and ideology.

In New York, for example, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest member of the House of Representatives. Ocasio-Cortez ran on a progressive platform that echoed Bernie Sanders’s campaign. [Unpredictably, Sander’s won his re-election campaign in Vermont]. As ESENDOM reported after the New York primaries in June:

Ocasio-Cortez’s victory—which represents a generation and political break—shocked the local and national Democratic Party establishment. For decades, the majority of Democrats have aligned themselves with Wall Street interests, abandoning the traditional labor union and working-class traditional base that gave impetus to the Democratic Party since the New Deal era. Her platform was more in alignment with the interests of ordinary New Yorkers: Medicare for all, fully funded public schools as colleges, immigration justice among others.

Read more here: Old Party Boss Defeated by Newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York City Primaries

For the first time, two Muslim women won congressional races in the United States:

Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Somali-American Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, reports the Washington Post. Their win represents important victories in the fight racism and rising Islamophobia at a time when President Trump ramps up fear and xenophobia in Make America First rallies and via Twitter.

Another noteworthy win is that of Jared Polis who became the first elected openly-gay governor of Colorado and any other state, reports The Denver Post. His is also an important victory as LGBTQ communities face attacks from Trump’s policies and his Christian, conservative base.

In Florida, a measure restoring the right to vote to 1 million felons passed. The dismantling of the law that prevented millions of law-abiding citizens from exercising their right to vote is a win for formerly incarcerated people and African-Americans who were the main targets of this Jim Crow era law.

In Kentucky, the defeat of Kim Davis, an anti-gay clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples was a victory for progressive causes and justice.

The Meaning of the Mid-Term Elections

The elections presented the Democrats with a golden opportunity to mobilize their constituents. In many places, mainly at the local level, the Democrats did well. In other states, the Democratic Party failed to win key electoral races such as in Florida, Texas and Georgia. The Democratic Party leadership, led by Tom Perez, will have a lot of explaining to do in the coming days.

The Democrats promised to defeat Trump but they only did it halfway, which could leave voters feeling hopeless about electoral politics and change. Meanwhile, as the electoral fever fades away, more people will realize that it will take more than elections to defeat Trump’s reactionary policies as he governs by appointing allies at his will and rolling back progressive regulations.

 ____

Last Update: 11/14/18 at 11:30am