The votes are still being tallied around the country as I write this, but it appears that the Democrats have at the very least retaken the House of Representatives and scored a few gubernatorial wins.
Over on social media, some of my liberal friends are lamenting that this isn’t good enough, that we needed that legendary “blue wave” to decisively show that this country isn’t what Donald Trump represents, and they’re disappointed it didn’t happen at the scale they hoped for.
Their negativity is irritating the hell out of me, to be honest.
Considering how gerrymandered so many states are, a blue wave was never likely. Perhaps it wasn’t even possible. But we did pretty damn well winning the House in this environment. The House is a start. The House means investigations, and it means applying the brakes to Trump and the Trumpist GOP’s corrosive agenda of undoing everything progressives have fought for over the past century.
Look, the ugly reality is that America is a land of bigots and know-nothings, and it always has been. Also, this nation was founded on blood and cruelty and it has never lived up to the ideals of its founding documents. That’s just the way it is. The mistake that progressives keep making over and over is believing that a single big win is somehow all it takes to overcome that reality. Remember how many people honestly believed that electing Obama meant we were now a “post-racial society?” Such naivete now seems heartbreakingly quaint.
The last two years — not to mention all the nasty bullshit Obama endured during the preceding eight years — have been a slap in the face to remind us that the work must go on. It will go on, and it is going on. Because the ideals we haven’t managed to live up to are as baked into the American makeup as the cruelty. Yin and yang, constantly struggling with one another, rocking back and forth but slowly, bit by bit, rolling forward. This country is about the aspiration, not a finished thing in itself. At least that’s how I’ve come to see things over the past decade.
It’s worth noting that many of those new representatives who will be seated come January 2019 are women, and many of them represent “firsts”: the first Muslim woman, the first Native American woman, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. And all of them were elected tonight, in 2018, with Donald Trump in the White House. That’s America.
That’s the work going on…