Midterms: You can’t al­ways get what you want

The Tribune (SLO) (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY LEONARD PITTS JR. Mi­ami Her­ald

You can’t al­ways get what you want. So said the philoso­pher Mick Jag­ger. He said it in 1969, so ob­vi­ously, he didn’t in­tend it as a com­ment on the 2018 midterms. But pro­gres­sives might be for­given for think­ing oth­er­wise.

Af­ter all, they wanted An­drew Gil­lum to be­come Florida’s first African-Amer­i­can gov­er­nor. They didn’t get it.

They wanted Stacey Abrams of Ge­or­gia to be­come the na­tion’s first fe­male African-Amer­i­can gov­er­nor. They didn’t get it, pend­ing a pos­si­ble runoff.

They wanted the in­spir­ing Beto O’Rourke to un­seat the de­press­ing Ted Cruz as se­na­tor from Texas. They didn’t get it.

Most of all, pro­gres­sives wanted a clear re­buke of Pres­i­dent Trump. They didn’t get that, ei­ther. In­stead, the midterms went a long way to­ward prov­ing that Trump’s rise to power and the in­tol­er­ance that fu­eled it were no aber­ra­tion.

Con­sider that be­fore the elec­tion, Trump de­clared him­self a “na­tion­al­ist” and is­sued an anti-im­mi­grant com­mer­cial so racist it was even pulled by Fox “News.” And that Rep. Steve King of Iowa crit­i­cized di­ver­sity dur­ing an in­ter­view with an Aus­trian po­lit­i­cal party with ac­tual ties to ac­tual Nazis. And that the GOP trot­ted out one voter sup­pres­sion scheme af­ter an­other.

Then, con­sider that Repub­li­can vot­ers were OK with all of it. As a syn­a­gogue in Pitts­burgh was mourn­ing vic­tims of an anti-Semitic mas­sacre, as a town near Louisville was lay­ing to rest vic­tims of a racist shoot­ing, GOP vot­ers

gave thumbs-up to bareknuckle big­otry and naked in­tol­er­ance straight out of the 1940s. Of all the things pro­gres­sives wanted but did not get Tues­day, a clear re­jec­tion of that ha­tred may be the most trou­bling.

But in mourn­ing over­much the things they did not get, pro­gres­sives would risk fail­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate all the things they did. And that would be a mis­take.

They wanted Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez to be­come the youngest woman ever elected to Con­gress. They got it.

They wanted to re­store vot­ing rights to more than a mil­lion for­mer felons in Florida. They got it.

They wanted to win gu­ber­na­to­rial races. They got it.

They wanted to pass an ini­tia­tive mak­ing it eas­ier to vote in Michi­gan. They got it.

They wanted to make the po­lit­i­cal land­scape more col­or­ful, more fe­male, more Mus­lim, more LGBTQ. They got it.

Most of all, they wanted to re­take the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. They got that, too.

Which means that, for the first time in his mis­be­got­ten pres­i­dency – likely the first time in his mis­be­got­ten life – Don­ald Trump now faces ac­count­abil­ity. No more ly­ing and law­break­ing while a bunch of in­ver­te­brates call­ing them­selves a Con­gress look the other way. “Process server” is about to be a growth in­dus­try in Wash­ing­ton.

So any pro­gres­sives dispir­ited by Jag­ger’s wis­dom might do well to re­call the rest of this lyric: “You can’t al­ways get what you want,” he sang, “but if you try some­times, you just might find you get what you need.” And while pro­gres­sives didn’t get all they wanted, they got enough to help en­sure so-called con­ser­va­tives and their so-called pres­i­dent can­not just walk all over us on the way to do­ing what­ever go­daw­ful thing they want to do.

Yes, a bet­ter coun­try would’ve re­duced Trump­ism to rub­ble. Un­for­tu­nately, here in this coun­try, you and I must still deal with the forces of ig­no­rance and in­tol­er­ance Trump has un­leashed. But here’s the thing:

Now they have to deal with us, too.


Email Leonard Pitts Jr. at lpitts@mi­ami­her­ald.com.

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