Josh Hawley was one of the Republican victories that expanded the party’s slim majority in the U.S. Senate over the past mid-term election. Formerly Missouri’s state attorney general, Hawley’s win was an important one for Republicans as it solidified GOP representation from an important swing state. At 39, he will be one of the youngest members of the upper house of congress.
From the perspective of congress as a whole, Hawley’s victory was a small representation of a bigger phenomenon that took place during the recent elections. The Democratic Party’s representation in the legislature shifted noticeably to the left. This was largely a result of the groundswell of support that gave Democrats the majority in the House, but also of moderates in the party being defeated—as was the case in Hawley’s race against incumbent Claire McCaskill, one of the party’s veteran senators. The loss of McCaskill and other moderate Democrats, like Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, makes it all but certain that Senate Democrats shift considerably leftward over the next two years.
But Hawley’s ascent to the senate may be fortelling another, equally important trend among lawmakers over the coming period.
Hawley and like-minded others are giving voice to a real concern, one that exists not just among Americans but around the world. It is a unique problem, one that was created by our fast developing technology on which we are growing increasingly dependent. “When a company has access to as much consumer information as Google does, it’s my duty to ensure they are using it appropriately. I will not let Missouri consumers and businesses be exploited by industry giants,” Hawley said exactly a year ago in a November interview.
Dealing with the issue of digital information dominance, how it affects society and how to balance it with the principles of free enterprise, will be an unavoidable challenge for U.S. policymakers in the coming period. Now that the GOP trustbuster is in congress, this is an agenda that will almost certainly be quick to gain traction on the Hill.