The 2018 midterm election clearly marked a step forward. It was, in a word, huge. One-party extreme right-wing rule ended. Trump and his alt-right (read fascist-minded) ilk have been set back.
The resistance, beginning with the women’s marches the day after the inauguration, scored its first national electoral victory.
The electoral mobilization by women, youth, trade unions, people of color, and LGBTQ people broke the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, winning 28 new seats with 15 still undecided.
The new Democratic majority is the most progressive-leaning in many decades. It includes unprecedented numbers of women and racially and nationally oppressed people. Its diversity is a sharp rebuke to the brazen misogyny and white supremacy of the Trump-GOP campaign strategy. Voters also ousted five Republican governors, including the odious Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Paul LePage of Maine.
Significantly, the GOP lost 323 state legislature seats: in only two years, close to a third of the 1000 Democratic seats lost during the 8 years of Obama’s presidency. Moreover legislative districts moved left in Tuesday’s election by a 3 to 1 margin: 300 moved left while 100 moved to the right.
While there was not a tsunami, there was a strong indication of a blue wave.
Moreover, a string of victories on ballot measures proved that democratic reforms can gather wide support. Voters in Missouri and Arkansas raised the state minimum wage; Floridians restored the democratic rights of 1.4 million who had been disenfranchised because of felony convictions. Louisiana voters ended the Jim Crow-era practice of allowing felony convictions without a unanimous jury. Michigan voters won independent, non-partisan redistricting–a major victory in one of the nation’s most heavily gerrymandered states. Even though some progressive initiatives were defeated, broad mobilizations around ballot measures show that progressive groups are serious about using the ballot.
At the same time, Tuesday’s results threw the task ahead into sharp relief. The day after the election, President Trump’s decision to fire his Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replace him with a crony hostile to the Mueller investigation is a clear indication of the degree of the danger. Trump’s unhinged press conference the same day, during which he had the gall to call an African American woman reporter a racist for questioning his self-declared nationalism, shows how outside of the best American traditions Trump remains.
Importantly, the Republican coalition is faltering. The party has little youth support. Right-wing evangelical support, while still strong, is eroding. Many white suburban women, who helped propel Trump to power, deserted the GOP in the most recent elections.
To hold power, the GOP campaigners are likely to double down on their strategy of white-supremacist fear mongering and mass disenfranchisement. If we are to turn Tuesday night’s victory into a decisive defeat of the reactionary, neo-Confederate GOP, the fight against racism and voter suppression must be intensified as well.
We can win! At critical junctures the U.S. working class and people, in their tens of millions, have always risen to the occasion. The Civil War, the organization of the mass production industries in the 1930s, and the Free Speech movement in the early 60s are examples of this phenomenon. This was no less true on Election Day 2018. Now the people’s democratic movement has to hit the ground running.
It’s already happening with the Nobody’s Above the Law protests. Let’s get busy!