Mid-Term Elections a Needed Correction by Gilbert Schramm

On election night, people questioned whether the “Blue Wave” would materialize. Final results are in and the answer is clear: The Blue Wave was a historic Democratic victory. Nationwide, Democrats won back the Congress with a gain of 40 seats. They won seven statehouses and seven governorships. Over 330 Democrats flipped offices at the state level. It was the biggest realignment in defense of Democracy since Watergate.

The GOP’s meager gains of two senate seats and their holding of some usually safe governorships hardly offset the magnitude of their defeat. Where there were recounts or GOP wins, they were in states where voter suppression and gerrymandering has defined the GOP brand.

In Florida, Tennessee, North Dakota, Georgia, Kansas, and Texas there was widespread voter suppression and other election problems. What all these states have in common is Republican governors who are ultimately responsible for the process. If the elections are not secure, they are the ones to blame. Two years after his tainted election, Trump has also done nothing to secure the vote. Why not? Because he and the GOP want election results always in doubt so that they can employ their weapons of last resort—fear, division, and confusion.

There is an important lesson here: until Democrats can win control of, and fix the broken election systems in red states, the only remedy for GOP voter suppression is for Democrats to work even harder to turn out voters. But Trump’s takeover of the GOP points to the much larger failure of the Republican party of old.

Trump is not an anomaly, he is the logical conclusion of a failed ideology. Ideologies are basically circular systems of thought: if you accept the premises, you will always reach the same conclusions. Naturally, the more an ideology conforms to actual reality, the more useful it is. Unfortunately, the conservative philosophy lost touch with reality years ago. The premises are wrong.  

Modern conservatism was built on a series of simplistic notions. With a heavy dose of propaganda, they became popular. Trickledown economics, small government, deregulation, privatization: over the years, these ideas have been deployed time and time again—the truth is, they have failed.

Wealth doesn’t “trickle down;” it just concentrates at the top and makes the economic system unstable. In a world of increasing complexity, the idea that government should become smaller is absurd. Deregulation has simply allowed corporations to pass on environmental costs to the public—they pocket the profits and taxpayers ultimately pay for the cleanup afterwards. Private “markets” don’t necessarily make better decisions than a well-run public sector. Private businesses fail by the thousands every year.

Under Trump, government is poorly staffed and corrupt, and there is no evidence it is smaller, cheaper, more efficient or less intrusive—indeed, it is worse on all these fronts. Trump’s tax cuts have ballooned the deficit by $2 trillion in just two years. His tariffs are costing American consumers billions, and farm bankruptcies have doubled. His attacks on healthcare have caused medical costs to explode again.

America is the richest country in the world—yet under the sway of Republican ideology it has failed to create really affordable public healthcare, living wages for workers, job security. a sustainable economy and environmental safety. After more than 15 years, we are still entangled in wars started by Republicans. Military and security budgets have skyrocketed. Today mankind faces its biggest collective challenge ever—global climate change. How can we logically expect government to be smaller in the face of such challenges?  The short answer is, “we can’t.” Across the board, the GOP ideology has failed. 

The ease with which Trump commandeered the Republican Party is proof of that failure. The GOP had never been free of misogyny, bigotry, racism and demagoguery, but Trump has taken these to new heights. It is all they have left. The old GOP ideas have all been abandoned. History, facts, and science show they are a failure: that is why Trump has turned to lies, denial, false narratives and fear.

Democrats won the midterm elections by a margin of almost nine million votes. It was a massive repudiation of the Trump’s GOP. We can only hope that voters will persist in sending this message. It will take years to repair the damage that Trump has inflicted. Persistence in resistance is the only solution to the problem of Trump and the worn-out ideas of the GOP.