Midterm elec­tions of­fer les­sons for all Amer­i­cans to learn

Boston Herald - - OPINION - By LAURA HOL­LIS

The much-an­tic­i­pated “most-im­por­tant-midter­m­elec­tion-in-our-life­time” is over. Democrats have a nar­row ma­jor­ity in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and Repub­li­cans have slightly in­creased their ma­jor­ity in the U.S. Se­nate.

What did we learn?

1. Midterms get turnout.

File this un­der “the old rules don’t ap­ply.” All across the coun­try, poll watch­ers re­ported that early vot­ing was break­ing records. Ac­cord­ing to CBS News, ap­prox­i­mately 113 mil­lion peo­ple — 49 per­cent of el­i­gi­ble vot­ers — voted in the 2018 midterm elec­tions. This broke turnout records go­ing back to 1966 (and be­fore that, to 1914). That’s an in­cred­i­ble statis­tic, and it de­fies the con­ven­tional wis­dom that peo­ple only care about pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. Not any­more.

2. Po­lit­i­cal al­liances are chang­ing.

(See also: “The old rules don’t ap­ply.”) #Nev­erTrump Repub­li­cans. #WalkAway Democrats. Black Amer­i­cans and #Blexit. His­pan­ics who want bor­der en­force­ment. The na­tion is chang­ing and al­le­giances are shift­ing to is­sues and away from pure iden­tity pol­i­tics. It’s un­clear whether our na­tional press un­der­stands this. Belt­way politi­cians ig­nore it at their peril.

3. The GOP can thank Brett Ka­vanaugh and Lind­sey Gra­ham for the U.S. Se­nate.

Se­nate Democrats wayyyyy over­played their hand with the smear cam­paign against Supreme Court nom­i­nee (now As­so­ciate Jus­tice) Brett Ka­vanaugh. The abuse of Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion pro­ce­dures, glar­ing holes in Chris­tine Ford’s tes­ti­mony; sala­cious, un­sub­stan­ti­ated (and now even re­canted) al­le­ga­tions; and protesters’ out­ra­geous be­hav­ior shocked the coun­try. As it turns out, Amer­i­cans still be­lieve in the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, the rule of law and the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence. There is no ques­tion that the Ka­vanaugh hear­ings gal­va­nized vot­ers. And Lind­sey Gra­ham’s jus­ti­fied out­rage (helped by the ra­tio­nal yet pas­sion­ate speech of cen­trist Maine sen­a­tor Su­san Collins) sealed the deal. 4. Trump has long coat­tails.

Love him or hate him (and there doesn’t seem to be much in be­tween), there’s no deny­ing that Pres­i­dent Trump has more stamina than any pres­i­dent in mod­ern mem­ory. Nor have there been many pres­i­dents who have stumped to this ex­tent for party pols in midterm races. From March un­til the early part of this week, Trump held nearly 50 cam­paign ral­lies — and in the days be­fore the elec­tion, mul­ti­ple ral­lies in mul­ti­ple states on the same day. (It’s also worth not­ing that Trump seemed to fo­cus his rally ef­forts on states with crit­i­cal Se­nate and gu­ber­na­to­rial races rather than House races.) He was in­stru­men­tal in the GOP vic­to­ries in Florida, In­di­ana, Texas, Ohio, Ten­nessee, Mis­souri and North Dakota. He boosted Michi­gan U.S. Se­nate can­di­date John James into the na­tional spot­light. He is a force to be reck­oned with.

5. No, it’s not “Trump’s Repub­li­can Party.”

But what Trump has done is show Repub­li­cans how to stop be­ing so good at los­ing — and start fight­ing back and win­ning. Those who think life was bet­ter when the GOP cur­ried fa­vor with the press and rolled over on is­sue af­ter is­sue have ei­ther stepped down or lost. But that’s their fault, not Trump’s. Vot­ers had been sig­nal­ing for years be­fore Trump ar­rived on the scene that they wanted a ro­bust GOP that would fight for con­ser­va­tive causes. Old guard Repub­li­cans wouldn’t do it. Trump will. Enough said.

6. Amer­i­cans have a lot to be proud of.

The Amer­i­can sys­tem of gov­ern­ment works — still, af­ter 242 years. Peo­ple ex­er­cised their right to vote in record num­bers. Those run­ning for of­fice were very di­verse and in­cluded more fe­males, as well as Mus­lim, gay, black, His­panic and Asian can­di­dates. The will­ing­ness and abil­ity to mean­ing­fully par­tic­i­pate in the process of gov­er­nance is a wor­thy at­tribute of the Amer­i­can pub­lic.

But ...

7. The cul­tural di­vide is not go­ing away.

The heated po­lit­i­cal de­bates, im­pas­sioned elec­torate and di­vided Con­gress are symp­to­matic of the fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ences about the fu­ture di­rec­tion of the coun­try. In truth, those de­bates can­not be re­solved in Con­gress — or in gov­ern­ment in gen­eral — which is, as the say­ing goes, down­stream of cul­ture. It is up to us as Amer­i­cans, and not our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, to find ways to re­solve those dif­fer­ences. Laura Hol­lis is a syn­di­cated colum­nist.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.