As I futilely try to recover from my IPA and Old Crow-fueled midterm election party hangover, some things have now become apparent to the public at large. If you read this column on a regular basis you’d have known about it weeks ago. But, there’s no accounting for taste.
The GOP picked up 3-5 in the Senate and lost the House by about a dozen. Gubernatorial races look deep crimson. We here in this column, wonderfully, got the FL Senate race wrong. Though by midday, hours before the polls closed, we got it right on social media. Aside from that hiccup our political prescience was sublime.
But there are lessons learned for all sides, usually more by defeat than by victory.
The GOP rank and file needs to stop indulging in the worst kind of confirmation bias. Tsunami, my eye. Yes, if you posted a Facebook red tsunami profile picture, folks I hope you will take this as a lesson in reality. This morning I bet your political hangover is worse than your physical one.
Just like we didn’t get every single Christmas present we ever wanted, things don’t happen just because we desire them. I understand loyalty and enthusiasm. But we have to be careful to not believe our own press releases. Thinking such, the said confirmation bias was a bane to otherwise logical people in this midterm election cycle because no credible analysis at all showed a strong probability of the GOP keeping the House, much less a tsunami of victories. It’s the same mentality that leads some to believe that Mueller is secretly working for Trump, that Sessions will now unleash indictments against various Democratic players, and that all will be saved because the aliens say it will.
When you look at it realistically the GOP had the best night they could have under the circumstances. No tsunami. More like the dam pretty much held. We took the SEC trifecta. We held Texas against their full-court press for Beta. Yes, Beta. One of the best parts? Wherever Hollywood went Hollywood lost. Now, will this stop Bolshie airheads like Alyssa Milano and Chelsea Handler from doubling down on their “activism”? Of course not, and thank the lord for it. We know in this holiday season that every time a bell rings an angel gets their wings. The sainted USAF Brigadier General James Stewart assured us of such. So every time a liberal celebrity tweets, another moderate voter becomes more conservative. Keep on working, ladies. Don’t tarry for a minute.
We held the House loss down to normal numbers for a midterm. Let’s remember, the status quo that some are so bummed about this morning is a better congressional situation by House numbers than Ronald Reagan had going into office in 1981. And his entire first-term record, even getting clobbered in a midterm in the House too, was nothing paltry.
Though in some places like Virginia, GOP down ballot races were a disaster. Here in Annapolis, a reddish island in a blue sea that looks longingly across the Bay Bridge to the GOP friendly Eastern Shore, we got hit hard. Growing up in South Florida and cutting my political teeth in Broward and Dade, I’ve talked to pals who worked races there. We lost races, like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s old seat and Curbelo’s seat; we simply should not have lost. In PA, where I spent the majority of my career as a political consultant, the picture is much the same, glum. California? Let’s just not talk about it.
But mercifully the Dems will, in their hysterically emotional way, see this as an endorsement for every wacky thing they just did. They will ignore all the lost races for the Senate and Governor’s mansions and instead focus on how just marvy the message of Maxine Waters went over in taking the House. This further ignores the fact that many Dems who flipped GOP House seats ran as moderate to conservative Blue Dog Dems. Pelosi may not even be the next Speaker. But that won’t matter as the screaming meemies bask in their alleged political genius. Confirmation bias will now become a two-way street just in time for 2020.
Past the midterm numbers, what is the larger message for this country on an autumn morning? It is this: The already wide divide has just gotten wider.
It’s not just the cities versus everyone else, though it is a lot of that. It is decades of educational and pop culture indoctrination coming home to roost. Have you seen any of those videos from college campuses where the students display all the cognitive skills of slow-learning marsupials? Then you know it’s going to get worse.
However, it isn’t limited to demographics. In the past the nation got up from the floor and bought the other guy a drink. You feel like that this morning? Perhaps I should rephrase that, as morning drinking is only vouchsafed to us who are at work in the editorial vineyards at this ungodly hour, while other less disturbing people roll over in bed and go back to sleep.
We’ve got to face up to the fact that some existential questions are coming up for both sides. If the president is reelected, given their strident rhetoric, can the left really just go back to their lives? Or will they become increasingly unhinged and violent? And what do we do if a President Sanders or Booker begins afresh and with great vigor the project of fundamental change to the Republic? It is a plan started in earnest by the immediately previous president. I doubt they have given up on it.
As some of you know, I’ve mentioned this before. I harp on it because I think it is a vital question we are ignoring at our own risk. Which may be fine, as it is our risk. Though when last August I saw my son walk down the aisle with his enchanting bride, I wondered what kind of America their kids will live in. There has been a continuous unbroken chain for over two hundred years that spoke to the promise of the United States for upcoming generations. It hasn’t been all pretty or orderly. Nevertheless, we knew in certain ways we were keeping faith with Americans from Valley Forge to Ground Zero.
These midterm election results may call that commitment into question. For checks and balances are fine, unless one of the sides is unbalanced. When that is the case, as now, more imaginative solutions are needed to protect our kids and their kids from the risk we so blithely assume today.