The mid-term congressional elections are over, but the counting in some very close races continues, which extends the time for determining the margins of control over the Senate and the House.
What is known is that the Red Wave predicted by pollsters and trumpeted by the New York Times and other media almost daily did not materialize. If there was any wave, it was a blue one, victorious for direct democracy ballot measures raising the minimum wage in Nebraska, Nevada and Washington, DC. Even in GOP-ruled South Dakota, voters overwhelmingly approved Medicaid expansion via a constitutional amendment.
With the win in Nevada, Democrats kept control of the Senate, holding 50 seats. If Senator Rafael Warnock (D-GA) defeats Herschel Walker in the December runoff, Democrats will have 51 seats.
For the House races, New York Democrats produced their own redistricting disaster. Dominating the state legislature, they passed an extremely gerrymandered map that the state appeals court (4 to 3) found unlawful. A special master was appointed who redrew the map, which resulted in the GOP flipping four congressional seats. This debacle could possibly hand the House of Representatives to the GOP. This is a political boomerang for the history books!
The more fundamental question is why the Democrats did not landslide the Republicans nationally. This is the worst GOP in its history. The Trump-dominated GOP is serially corrupt, violence-prone, anti-labor, anti-women and anti-children. The corporatist GOP embraces compulsive lying, dishonesty, brazenly authoritarian suppression of votes and dedication to corporate domination of our country.
Late in this year’s campaign, the Democrats highlighted recent GOP designs to lift the eligible age for Social Security while freezing benefits and corporatizing further Medicare and Medicaid. Opposing any increases in the frozen federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, any improvements in workplace health and safety and backing union-busting drives puts the GOP on the opposite side of labor.
The GOP’s callousness toward children is despicable. The Trumpsters opposed paid child care and family sick leave as well as expanded Medicaid for children (provided by European countries for decades), while they supported more junk food (sugar, fat and salt) in school lunch programs, repealed a ban on dangerous pesticides to infants and blocked the extension in January of the $300 monthly child tax credit to 58 million children that would have cut child poverty by a third.
The anti-women GOP continued its opposition to reproductive rights, equal pay requirements and an end to marketplace discrimination.
Trump’s deadly derision and delays in confronting the arrival of Covid-19 in early 2020 led to the preventable loss of over 300,000 American lives. His Republican toadies in Congress and in state government echoed his anti-science lies.
Trumpsters huddled with the oil, gas and coal lobbyists against faster conversion to renewable energy and conservation. The GOP has called climate catastrophes “a hoax.” Reducing taxes on the super-rich and big businesses to record lows, the GOP then asserts we can’t afford social safety nets and investments in repairing America’s public works.
Not long ago, such overt cruelties and neglect would have been political suicide. But, with few exceptions, these subjects were not placed front and center for the past year by the Democrats. The GOP’s campaigns are always on the offensive, placing the Democrats in the defensive position of responding to fake assaults on claims about catchphrases such as “defund the police,” “socialism,” “critical race theory,” and whatever other daily fabrications flowed from the GOP’s political sewers.
Of course, dialing for the same corporate campaign dollars as does the GOP and giving over their campaigns to corporate-conflicted political/media consultants have cursed the Democrats from being true to their name for decades. These consultants, such as those exposed in articles by the Intercept (See article: Democratic Consultants Cash In On AIPAC Spending — Even As It Tries to Hand the House to Republicans by Akela Lacy), have escaped the attention of the mainstream media. Now that the election is over, will the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press and Bloomberg bring the light of day on these backroom manipulators, with regular corporate clients to compromise them?
If Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy becomes the next House Speaker, the Democratic Congress has two months before turning over the gavel. The Democrats should buckle down and pass long-overdue legislation and confirm judges and executive branch officials. They should hold a variety of gripping public hearings on corporate crime, labor abuses, harms to children, restoring the huge tax cuts of Trump for the plutocracy and entrenched rip-offs of consumers. Reaching tens of millions of people, such hearings will throw the agenda gauntlet down to the incoming Trumpsters.
Regardless of what happens next year under the GOP, the Democrats cannot only place Trump’s Party on the defensive, and encourage defections on various votes, but they must also educate themselves about how they need to campaign in the future before all the people, all the workers, all the consumers, all the children.
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Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate and the author of “The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future” (2012). His new book is, “Wrecking America: How Trump’s Lies and Lawbreaking Betray All” (2020, co-authored with Mark Green).