Was it a Wave Election?

A substantial majority of Americans went to the polls and pulled the lever for candidates who opposed GOP President Donald Trump and his policies. Even in the elections for the U.S. Senate, where the GOP gained at least three seats, 10 million more people voted Democratic than voted Republican.

The big news of the night, however, was the practical result of the national outpouring of voters who rejected the fear and racism put forward by the GOP. Democrats, even before the final reports from 14 districts, had already piled up a margin of close to 30 seats in the House of Representatives.

More voters propelled this “blue wave” than the numbers that carried into office the infamous Tea Party Republicans during the 2010 midterms of the Obama administration. Judging by initial numbers, this year’s election could see the highest turnout in history for any midterm in the U.S.

The media’s characterization of the election results as a “split decision” fails to capture the significance of what actually happened on Nov. 6.

Women, youth, African Americans, Latinos, LGBTQ, and other historically under-represented groups entered and successfully used the electoral process to make themselves heard and to actually win political office.

Some 110 women will be seated in the new Congress, including at least 100 in the House. Women started marching against Trump the day after he was inaugurated and only two years later, they have defeated a huge number of male Republican lawmakers and are replacing them with some of those among themselves who marched that day.

The people elected to the new Congress include leaders and activists in mass movements —- people who are far different than most who have sat in Congress in the past.

That’s a big warning signal for Trump. The chance he will now be able to get rid of Robert Mueller, whose investigation has already resulted in felony convictions and guilty pleas from several top Trump administration officials, is now significantly smaller.

Voters clearly sent the message that they don’t want Trump and the GOP messing with their health care or with Social Security and Medicare. Majorities voted for congressional candidates committed to Medicare for All, for getting rid of the health insurance companies altogether. And National Nurses United reported a majority of Democratic congressional nominees supports that, too.

The House controls the purse strings, so the people can look forward now to no more fooling around with government shutdowns — a pastime of the Tea Party crowd, and their lineal descendants, the so-called “Freedom Caucus,” in Congress. Indeed, one prominent Tea Partyite/Freedom Caucus member, GOP Rep. Dave Brat, lost his House seat in a changing area of suburban Richmond, Va.

With the House out of his control, Trump can no longer push through major legislation packages, such as his tax cuts for the rich.

Floridians, meanwhile, voted to put 1.5 million people who had paid their debt to society for felony convictions back on the voter rolls. This will make it much tougher in the future for right-wing Republicans to get elected in that state – despite what happened in its gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, both apparently headed for recounts.

In suburbs across the country, the results reflect a virtual revolt against Trump. By 6:30 am on Nov. 7, the numbers coming in from suburban districts pushed the Dems into a pick-up of at least 28 seats in the House, well over the 23 they needed for control.

No matter what Trump may claim, the midterms were a strong rejection of the president and his rhetoric. And he blew up at a reporter at his post-election press conference who called him on the issue, just after a white nationalist leader made the rounds of Trump’s White House on Nov. 7.

On the downside, Trump’s appeals to fear and racism again resonated with millions of workers in deep red states and elsewhere. That resonance let the GOP successfully defend Senate seats in Texas and Tennessee and gain seats in Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota.

While the appeals to hate and voter suppression contributed to a narrow loss for Andrew Gillum in Florida and to Stacey Abrams trailing in Georgia, there were important gains for progressives in the gubernatorial races, including Democratic wins in Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, and Nevada.

Especially sweet for the labor movement and its allies was the defeat of Wisconsin’s right-wing Republican Gov. Scott Walker, author of the infamous Act 10, which virtually emasculated public worker unions – except those which supported his first run in 2010.

Another landmark gubernatorial win was that of Jared Polis in Colorado, where he will become the nation’s first gay (and Jewish) governor. Down ballot, more history was made as a record 129 LGBTQ candidates were elected to state legislatures around the nation.

The results of yesterday’s voting put the country on a new footing. Despite the gains made by progressive forces, the election was only the beginning of a long hard electoral struggle, which grows out of the struggle in the streets. That, with the massive women’s marches, started the day after Trump took office. 

The Democratic Party still needs to strengthen its economic message on the national level heading toward 2020 in order to further expose Trump’s spin about how only the Republicans can be trusted to manage the economy and create jobs. Simply relying on the president’s missteps and outrages is no strategy.

History teaches that the right wing and its corporate backers will continue their battle to hold the people back and reverse course on any gains made. The election’s outcome was a welcome first step and a victory. History also teaches the people can be counted on to fight to hold onto the gains made and expand them even more.   

By John Wojcik, Editor, People’s World