As I wrote yesterday, the midterm elections would tell us a lot about ourselves. So what did they tell us?
It tells us that racism and bigotry is a major driver in voting, especially for the Republican party. In the final weeks before yesterday’s election, the Republican party went full out racist. They promoted white supremacy. They lied about the “caravan.” Trump even shot down his staff’s attempt to end on a positive economic message and go with a grossly dishonest and blatantly racist “closer.” More proof that what drives many Republicans, mostly white, is racism and bigotry and not the apologetic “uncertain about the economy” mantra that was never true. This is all about fear.
The election also told us that Republicans are hypocrites. The “party of family values” led by a serial wife cheater and possible pedophile voted into office a dead pimp. Yup, Republicans in Nevada voted for an actual prostitute boss who had died over a month ago. And the “party of law and order”? They reelected a guy who was indicted for 60 counts of fraud. What the Republican party did do is vote in more white males.
The Republican party, while blatantly lying about nearly everything, also worked hard to keep people from voting. The current Secretary of State for Georgia, who was running for Governor, simply tossed people from areas predominantly of color off the registration roles, then he refused to complete the registrations of people who wanted to vote, and then, just to make sure, he refused to count thousands of absentee ballots that he arbitrarily deemed had signatures that didn’t exactly match the one on file (Note: look at a batch of your signatures and you won’t find any two that are exact). In other words, he blatantly suppressed the vote of persons of color that he assumed were voting for his African-American opponent. His margin of “lead” (still being counted) is a tiny percentage of the votes that he suppressed. Meanwhile, voting machines in predominantly black districts of Georgia mysteriously wouldn’t work, or were missing, leading to long lines and disenfranchising voters (not surprisingly, no problems were reported in affluent white neighborhoods). Reports of machines switching votes (not surprisingly, usually from Democrat to Republican) were prevalent. This is what corruption looks like, and it was repeated across the United States by Republicans over and over.
How about the Democratic party? They voted in a record number of women, the first Muslim women, an openly gay Governor, and broad diversity of men and women across all color, religion, and heritage backgrounds. Democrats also elected eight new scientists to Congress. While Republicans were trying every trick to block voters from voting, Democrats were working hard to help people register and encouraging them to vote.
The election told us that the two parties couldn’t be any more different. Democrats attracted the votes of a widely diverse populace representing every facet of American life. White people, black people, brown people, Asian people, Christian/Jewish/Muslim/Buddhist people, straight people, LGBTQ people, rich/poor/middle class/working class people, the list goes on. What did Republican voters look like? Mostly white, the very rich, and those, especially rural, with no education beyond high school (there is a reason why Republicans and Trump say they “love the uneducated“). Ironically, those working and rural people are being screwed daily by the Republicans as tax cuts for the ultra rich are being used as an excuse to cut services to working and rural voters.
So we’re faced with a large sector that encompasses a shrinking proportion of the nation who are either 1) racist/bigoted, or 2) profoundly insecure about losing their privilege. One party panders to this racism/bigotry/insecurity with fearmongering and blatant dishonesty. That party uses those lies to manipulate the fears of that part of the populace to get their votes, then goes on stealing from those same taxpayers to distribute even more money to the very rich and the corporations. As shown by their policies and actions, that party believes only the worker and middle classes should pay fair taxes. That party believes that health care is something that should be available only to those who can afford the ever-increasing costs. That party believes that science is a hoax. That party fights against any policy the other party agrees to, even when it was their idea in the first place.
In contrast, the other party represents the complete range of interests of all Americans, men/women/trans, rich/poor, white/non-white, Christian/non-Christian, straight/LGBTQ, and every other characteristics by which we self-identify. That party works hard for all Americans, believing not that the rich are bad, but that they should simply contribute their fair share. That party believes in finding a path forward so that everyone can get affordable health care. That party believes that science should inform policy, not be denied when it conflicts with ideological dogma. That party believes in working within the ideas provided by its diverse members to find solutions, even accepting the valid solutions of the other party when they arise (for example, a private insurance carrier-based health care system [aka, “The Affordable Care Act”] and a market based solution to climate change [aka, “Cap-and-Trade”].
The fact that I don’t even have to say which party is which tells you everything.
So we learned a lot about ourselves. Some of it was good: The Democrats elected people who reflect the diversity of America in every respect and promised to work hard for all Americans, even those who didn’t vote for Democrats. Some of it was bad: The Republicans elected more white men and played off the fears and bigotry of its most vulnerable members, while working against those members’ interests.
What did this election tell you about you?
David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, in Barnes and Noble stores now. His previous books include Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World and two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.