Who, what, when, where, why on the 2018 Midterms (F*ck Trump)
by Suresh Hanubal
Staff Political Pundit
On November 6, 2018 the Democrats won back the House, several Governorships, and state legislatures. However, they failed to achieve a victory similar in scale to that of the Tea Party wave of 2010. This is likely due to the increased polarization of society in the intermittent eight years. With that being said, 2018 can still be considered a victory for the Democrats due to the number of key races that they did win. More important than these victories though, is the impact that they will have on American society.
On the national level, with Democrats now in control of the House, we can expect to see numerous inquiries into Trump’s finances, a deeper look at the Russia investigation, and full support of Mueller from at least one branch of government over the next two years. Specifically, the country can expect house members like Maxine Walters and Adam Schiff to launch multiple investigations into topics such as suspected collusion between Trump and the Russian government and other shady aspects of his presidency. However, besides an endless onslaught of investigations from the House, likely little else will be accomplished over the next two years. This is because the Senate, and of course the presidency will still remain in Republican hands. If anything, on the national level, the next two years should politically resemble the later years of the Obama presidency, in that there will be endless gridlock and partisan bickering.
Although the results of the midterm elections will not produce substantive change on the national level, it will on the state level in at least some areas. Most importantly, victory in several governorships (Kansas, Michigan, Illinois, etc.) will give Democrats at least a degree of control over redistricting in the aftermath of the 2020 census. This is important because the redistricting process done at the beginning of the decade indirectly determines who controls state legislatures and house seats in that state for the rest of the decade. This is due to gerrymandering. For example, at the beginning of the 2010s, the Republicans won large victories throughout the nation. They then gerrymandered districts throughout the country on both the state and national level in order to ensure that the Democrats would have a hard time taking back control. This is also obviously something the Democrats have done as well in years that they have won large victories. With that being said, this gerrymandering has worked so far for the most part. Even when Democrats have won the popular vote in the last decade, they have had difficulty translating that into actual victories. With Democrats at the helm in several more states at the time of the 2020 census, they could reduce this gerrymandering or even tilt it the other way, helping their state parties in the process. Although this is an important impact of the Democrats victory on the state level, it is by far not the most important one.
Democratic victories on the state level will enable the party to enact progressive agendas in several states over the upcoming years. Specifically, Democrats now have full control in Maine, Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, and New York. This means that they can enact radical progressive agendas, including Medicare for all, free university and the UBI in these states. In essence, these states can act as laboratories for the efficacy of progressive agenda nationwide. Democratic victories in states like Kansas or Michigan, where the Republicans still control the legislature, can also still act as a buffer against extremely conservative policies being enacted. Progressive policy victories such as the legalization of marijuana in Michigan or the re-enfranchisement of felons in Florida will also have major societal impacts in the years to come. In addition to the policy and political impact, this gives the Democrats, the midterm elections gave them a moral victory as well.
Lastly, Democratic victories in the 2018 midterms provide a moral victory for a party badly shaken by its shock loss in the 2016 general election. It shows both the party and the nation that under the right conditions (i.e. a historically unpopular president) that progressive candidates and policy are in fact popular with the American people. It also gives the party a blueprint on how to win over American voters while looking forward to 2020 and the Presidential contest that year.