What Do We Do Now?

There will be many takeaways from the midterm elections by people far more knowledgeable, and far more vested in the outcome, than mine. I couldn’t lose, because my ambivalence left me without a side. My views on Trump are no secret. Neither are my views on progressive social justice. Much as I couldn’t lose, I couldn’t win either.

So the outcome has happened, a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. Will it be congressional paralysis, as we endured for the last six years of the Obama administration, or will subpoenas start flying from a House of Representatives determined to destroy Darth Cheeto?

One would expect credit to be taken by the victors, who are entitled to their moment since they won. But even someone as mindlessly dedicated to her narrative as Jill Filipovic realizes the problem.

It is exhilarating and remarkable to see so many women succeed against long odds, and heartening to see so many take their place as “firsts” in what has never been a truly representational democracy.

But I am worried, too. The women are here, and the expectation is that they will do what women so often do: act as a cleanup crew.

Be careful what you wish for, Jill, for you might just get it. It’s well past time for women to be as embroiled in politics as men, although pundits like Filipovic care more about counting genitalia than quality. Freshman(?) congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, having ousted Democratic heir to the throne Joseph Crowley, will either be positioned for greatness or fade into obscurity. Spouting platitudes without having the slightest clue what she’s talking about can go either way in D.C.

But Filipovic’s “meteor strikes earth” argument has come to pass, her efforts have shifted from “women will fix America” to “do what women so often do: act as a cleanup crew.” That’s what insurgents do. They sought election to clean up the mess, so now they will be expected to clean up the mess. The “oppressed woman” excuse has run out, Jill.

The narratives around who lost and why will almost certainly touch on identity, questioning whether candidates were too “identity-focused” by virtue of recognizing that they were not white men, and their lives, experiences and priorities were different. This simplistic read seems destined to overshadow more nuanced takes on how sexism and racism shape our perceptions, preferences and behaviors. It also ignores a stunning reality: Women made the blue wave.

This is the narrative that I fear most, that it will embolden the most extreme voices on the side that isn’t Trump to believe that they have been ordained by the great female deity in the sky to recreate America. Ironically, Filipovic tries desperately to distance women from identity politics, perhaps coming to the recognition that it’s not as hot a selling point as it’s been in the past now that her tribe has a foothold in Congress. Then again, she just can’t let go of the “everything is sexism and racism” explanation for everything. It’s all she has.

The New York Times offers an agenda to the incoming Democrats that’s surprisingly thoughtful and moderate.

The trick will be finding the right balance in both tone and topic. Many Trump-hating Democrats might be in the mood for payback, but most Americans could easily be turned off by overt political games. And, let’s not forget, this is ultimately not about scoring points — Americans deserve better from their government.

The big question is whether a Democratic House will serve to do better for America, whether all of it or just those groups it favors at the moment, or use its power to exact revenge on Trump. The Times calls for the Dems to show their worth by governing better rather than attacking. It’s a wise admonition.

Much as I hoped the takeaway from this election would be that the Democrats should return from progressivism to liberalism, honoring constitutional rights for all, equality over equity, capitalism over socialism, and the end of promoting identitarian hatred, that wasn’t a likelihood no matter what.

But unlike when Trump was elected, and many in the “resistance” wished failure upon America, at the expense of Americans who needed and deserved better, I wish the newly elected Democratic majority in the House every success in serving the people, all the people regardless of race, gender or national origin, of the United States of America.

31 thoughts on “What Do We Do Now?

    1. SHG Post author

      That’s one of the serious possibilities, that the House will immediately set a course for Articles of Impeachment. I wonder how that will pan out?

      Reply
        1. PseudonymousKid

          Or if they didn’t stack the supreme court, those damn dogs. It’s time to break out the guillotines. Impeachment is for the weak. Sober governance ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

          Reply
        2. John Barleycorn

          Gerrymamder a US Senator’s district?

          Now we are talking!!! Fuck all them state lines on the map anyway!!!

          Just thinking about all the new and exciting opinions hinged on interstate commerce law brings a wierd smirking tear to my eye.

          Reply
          1. Frank

            That’s basically what some low IQ people with microphones were proposing – apportionment of Senate seats based on popular vote.

            Reply
  1. B. McLeod

    Starting with a raft of vexatious committee “investigations” and moving up to “impeachment” attempts, the ends-justify-the-means Dems will be able to further paralyze the administration’s domestic agenda for the second half of Trump’s term.

    However, with the Republican Senate majority and reminder of the bitter cost paid by Dems for their Kavanaugh fiasco, they will not be able to halt Trump’s transformation of the federal judiciary. They will also be unable to completely muzzle his foreign affairs agenda.

    Absent some currently unforeseeable development, I do not see a Trump reelection in 2020, and we will get somebody else at that point.

    Reply
    1. Patrick Maupin

      ” the ends-justify-the-means Dems”

      Thank god you put “Dems” at the end; it wasn’t clear if this was about Trump’s congress or Clinton’s there for a minute.

      Reply
  2. Anonymous Coward

    I predict vindictive committee investigations, followed by articles of impeachment and some bright spark wondering how to sneak a bill of attainder past the Constitution. I also expect lots of editorializing about the fixed allocation of Senate seats giving too much power to the unwoke flyover states and arguing that Senatorial representation should be proportionate. Also expect lots more complaint about the electoral college, and booming sales of “Cthulhu 2020 why vote for a lesser evil” merchandise.

    Reply
  3. Lee

    I find it humorous that some are calling the Democrat victories a MANDATE. Wining 23 seats in the House and losing seats in the Senate hardly constitutes a mandate in my book.

    And two more years of Pelosi as Speaker of the House will be fun to watch. Trump sure thinks so as he’s expressed his support for her for that position.

    Reply
  4. Karl Kolchak

    With the imperial presidency being what it has become, the narrative that this will result in “gridlock” is outdated. What did Trump really need the HofR for during his first term? He (as with Obama) pretty much ran foreign policy without Congressional interference, and Trump seems to prefer to govern domestically via executive order anyway. The only thing this result ensures is that there won’t be another huge tax cut, which the country couldn’t afford anyway.

    Trump got what he really wanted–not only did the Senate remain stay in GOP hands, but they expanded their majority by adding some hardcore conservatives. This means the next Trump supreme court nominee will almost certainly sail through. It’s ironic that the Senate, which was designed by the founders to be the less ideologically extreme of the two houses, has in fact become the more partisan body on both sides. But without the filibuster, which the Dems short-sidedly did away with–they are now virtually powerless there.

    Reply
    1. SHG Post author

      Problem is that political and policy issues end up being decided by lawfare rather than legislation when Congress is paralyzed. Some are good with that, but some (like me) would much rather have the political branch decide policy over the judicial, and really hate when it’s decided by executive branch fiat.

      Reply

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