If I could describe the germinating “Trump era” in a single word, it would be “dramatic.” Policy positions and staff firings are announced via Twitter. Questioning President Donald Trump’s abrasive rhetoric, truthfulness, or overall thought process is either “fake news” or political suicide, as he is continually embraced by voters and party alike. His administration’s scandalous revolving door reminds me of his former reality show, and the constant leaks a public restroom. In an effort to remain politically relevant, Democrats have largely relied on countering Trump’s theatrics with some of their own — which made this year’s midterms rather interesting, to say the least.
Last night, Democrats were poised to swing the pendulum back in an historic election. Per FiveThirtyEight, they were heavily favored over Republicans (GOP) in the generic ballot 50.7% to 42% — roughly in line with President Donald Trump’s average approval rating (41.9%). This, alongside the aforementioned theatrics, made the election a referendum on Trump — just as 2010 was for his predecessor, Barack Obama. At that time, Democrats maintained control of the Senate, but lost the majority in the House of Representatives after successfully passing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Republicans also gained a majority of governorships nationwide — a trend that continued into 2018.
This year, however, Democrats fought back — further embracing the identity politics, progressive policies (sort of), and moral superiority that have come to define them. And, for the most part, it worked. In a reflection of 2010, they turned the tables on President Trump, winning control of the House and picking up some governorships. But the GOP held the Senate, and Democrats Andrew Gillum, Ben Jealous, Stacey Abrams, and Beto O’Rourke all came up short after massive media campaigns. Personally, I expected Jealous and O’Rourke to lose, but Gillum and Abrams surprised me. (Maybe next time?)
So, where does that leave us? Simple: the “Resistance”, the “blue wave”, was real, but it wasn’t enough to topple Teflon Don. Not yet, anyways. However, “the darkest hour is just before the dawn.” If 2016 was that dark hour, the dawn began this year, and the sun may yet rise in 2020.
This piece was also run on No Majesty, a UK-based outlet dedicated to the ugly truth.