America has spoken. Once again, divided government seems to be the message. So often in the past, the American people have made it pretty clear that one-party rule is not the desired outcome. Yes, it may last for a term or so, but in the end, it’s all about checks and balances. And to that end, America delivered.
Would I have liked it better if the Democrats also took the Senate? Yes. But one House of Congress is now in the hands of the Democrats, and it couldn’t have happened at a more critical time. As I write this, President Trump has just fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He has installed a temporary Attorney General until he finds a permanent replacement.
Let’s be clear here. The president of the United States is about to embark on a dangerous path of obstruction and abuse of power. We’ve known that this was going to happen. The fact that he actually listened to his handlers and waited until the end of the mid-terms is surprising. But he did.
And now, with the Senate still firmly in Republican hands, and a majority of the Supreme Court in his corner, he undoubtedly feels encouraged and empowered. I’d hate to think what the future would hold if the Democrats did not flip the House. But make no mistake … troubled waters lie ahead.
The Sessions issue aside though, I think there were a few other things that stood out in last night’s election. While the Democrats did quite well in the House, the Senate will stay in Republican hands, with a gain of a few seats to boot. If we look at the outcome … if we’re really honest with ourselves … the country has never been more divided. For me, last night solidified that fact.
We have areas around the cities and suburbs that seem to be in play for Democrats in most elections, as are most of the coastal states. But in the rural areas, especially in the middle of the country and the Southeast, not so much. There’s clearly a demographic change going on, and the Republican Party knows this more than anyone. It’s why we’ve seen widespread voter suppression and radical gerrymandering over the last decade. They know the cards are stacked against them in the future. So they’ve rigged the game as much as possible.
But the disconnect and division between white rural America and the rest of the country have never been more profound. Trump, more than anyone in recent memory, has capitalized on this. The fear machine was out in full force as he campaigned for Senate, House, and governor seats across the country. It’s hard to argue that it didn’t work for him, at least as it pertains to the Senate.
And it looks like two of the governor seats he campaigned hard for, in Georgia and Florida, will also stay Republican, although Stacy Abrams is vowing to fight for every last vote in Georgia.
Good for her.
Her opponent Brian Kemp, who currently leads by a razor-thin margin, has not conducted himself admirably, to say the least. He has a lot to answer for as far as voter suppression goes. She should do whatever it takes to make sure that everyone who wanted to vote, was able to do so. Stay tuned.
Finally, on a personal note, I want to mention a candidate that lost a race last night, whom I was lucky enough to interview for this blog just a few short months ago. Her name is Shannon Souza. Shannon faced an immense uphill battle in State Senate District One in Southwest Oregon. It happens to be one of the most conservative areas of the state. While she did outperform the previous Democratic candidate in 2016, she still lost the election by a 64%-35% margin.
In my opinion, Shannon was clearly the better candidate. She offered to debate her opponent on several occasions, but each time he came up with a different excuse. And the truth is, why should he have debated her in the first place? It wouldn’t have mattered. The race was his to win, so there was no need for him to subject himself to a better and well-prepared candidate at any debate. He laid low, and the people of the First District in Southwest Oregon rewarded him with a victory.
I bring this race up, because yes, I believed in Shannon and thought she might pull off an upset. But I also bring it up because it clearly reflects the cultural and political division we’re now facing throughout the rest of America.
Shannon was not a far-left candidate. Far from it. She projected a more moderate approach as to how she would serve the district. But it was to no avail. She had a ‘D’ next to her name. And in this district, as well as other similar rural communities in the country, that was the deciding factor.
What a shame.
I’d like to think these divisions will heal over time. But the climate right now … with this combative and divisive president … is toxic. The schism will only deepen in the months ahead. We know that this president will not go quietly into the night. It’s not in his nature. At some point, perhaps as early as 2020, we’ll find a candidate that will bridge our differences. A candidate that actually will bring the country together.
But for now, we wait … for Robert Mueller’s final report … for Trump’s response … and for the new Democratic House of Representatives.
I wish I had a crystal ball.