There wasn’t a blue wave, but there might’ve been. Neither was there a red wave, but there might’ve been. So instead, after a year of meltdowns and sideshows, all we got was this lousy stalemate.
As I’ve been saying for a while now, forget all the window dressing and just do the math. We are not a polarized people as much as we are a balkanized one. The divisions are so entrenched culturally now that the list of persuadables continues to shrink. So with most of the contested Senate races taking place within Trump’s 2016 America, and many of the contested House races taking place within Hillary’s 2016 America, we got the results we probably should’ve just predicted all along.
But that didn’t have to be the case. Both parties squandered an opportunity here.
The Democrats should have capitalized better on the unpopularity of a president who thinks restraint is a river in Egypt. Except the word “restraint” isn’t even in their own vocabulary at all. So instead of articulating an alternative governing vision opposite a president with an approval rating below the Mendoza Line and a GOP Congress less popular than toe jam, they paved the road to hell with cruel intentions: calling everyone who dares to disagree a racist, literally Hitler, and only stopping along the way to attempt to destroy the life of a Supreme Court nominee they didn’t like. Labeling Brett Kavanaugh a gang rapist based on flimsier evidence than Rosie O’Donnell’s infamous 9/11 conspiracy theories. Or flimsier than Michael Avenatti’s credibility. Or flimsier than Stormy Daniels’ evening wear. Each of whom were also the face of the Democratic Party during portions of this election cycle. Don’t look now, but every Democrat senator who voted to character-assassinate Kavanaugh lost, and the only one who didn’t (Joe Manchin) won. That’s not a coincidence.
Meanwhile, Republicans should have coasted on the strongest economy since the dot-com boom 20 years ago. Except they committed the worst act of political betrayal since “read my lips” when they broke a seven-year promise to repeal Obamacare. Not to mention their open-borders leadership’s disdain for President Trump’s popular immigration enforcement policies. Then there’s the president’s Twitter feed, whose purpose most days seems to be an intentional exercise in alienating as many suburban women voters as possible — when the president’s not using it to grind his personal political axes rather than promoting his positive economic message, that is.
This is why we didn’t get a wave. We got a stalemate, an election that is almost a replica of the one we just had in 2016. And one we’re likely to see again in 2020 unless one of these parties can answer these questions:
1) Can Democrats, the party that claims it’s for diversity, show that it’s truly willing to accommodate dissent? Or will “you will be made to care” become “you better believe you will %4@#! be made to care when we’re in power since you’re literally Hitler?” For if so, the president will continue to exploit the justifiable fears of voters who might be friendlier to Democrats’ economic message if it didn’t come with the hefty price tag of cultural Marxism.
2) Can the president practice a modicum of adulting, which might give those suburban voters he’s alienating permission to praise him for the policy decisions he’s making that are making their lives better? Or will his random ego-in-motion act continue to show its backside on social media daily?