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VOICES: In the midterm elections, democracy won


By Carmen Gentile

Democrats have seemingly thwarted Republicans’ hopes for a “red wave” midterm election referendum, though party control of Congress remains undecided and voter tallies could take days, or even weeks in some areas, to tabulate in key races. 

Among the most-watched contests is the Georgia Senate race, where Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock faced a surprisingly stiff challenge from political neophyte and former footballer Herschel Walker. 

CNN is now projecting that the Georgia Senate race will require a runoff, since neither candidate garnered at least 50% of the vote in the first round, as is mandated by Georgia election law. 

In another key Senate race, Pennsylvania’s hoodie-wearing, legal-weed proponent Lt. Gov. John Fetterman defeated TV doc and Trump favorite Mehmet Oz, who called Fetterman to concede defeat on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, Ohio elected to the Senate JD Vance, an author and one-time ardent Donald Trump critic (“he might be America’s Hitler”) turned Trump supporter, who the former president seemingly delighted in humiliating on the campaign trail.

Several of the governors Trump endorsed didn’t fare well. Former Army colonel and Christian nationalist Doug Mastriano was walloped in a Pennsylvania race won by Attorney General Josh Shapiro. His oratory skills in the final days of the campaign had some folks talking about Shapiro’s political future beyond the governor’s mansion in Harrisburg, even before he moves in. 

In Maryland, Democrat Wes Moore won big, flipping that seat blue after the state’s GOP Gov. Larry Hogan leaves office.

In all, Democrats far outperformed expectations, especially considering President Biden’s approval rating still hovers at about 40%, gasoline costs $4 a gallon, on average, inflation keeps climbing, and a recession is on the horizon

However, it still seems likely that the House will revert to Republican control, a development that could put some prominent 2020 election-deniers and conspiracy theorists, such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on powerful congressional committees — perhaps even in the driver’s seat. 

Greene and some other Trump loyalists in the House have said they will seek to impeach Biden and possibly others in his administration for reasons that probably will not be coherently articulated

“So, the House is going to become a circus,” said Alexandra Filindra, an associate professor of political science at the University of Illinois in Chicago, whose specialties include racial prejudice and its effects on policy, and political psychology. 

“We’re going to start all kinds of investigations meant to muddy the waters about Jan. 6,  which is going to be a very bad thing for the republic.”

Concerns about what might ensue once Republicans take control of the House aside, Filindra noted that the oft-beleaguered and criticized Biden appears to have fared better than expected in this election. 

“The clear message is that Biden is stronger than expected,” Filindra said, already looking ahead to the next presidential election. “If this was a major ‘red wave,’ there would be huge pressure on Biden to not run (in 2024).” 

Filindra said she’s still worried about the future of American democracy, despite the seeming voter repudiation of much of the extremism within the far-right flank of the Republican Party. 

“I am hearing a lot of people around who are saying, ‘Well, Democrats overperformed and it’s not as bad as we saw,’” Filindra added. 

“[But] from an institutional perspective, it’s going to be a loss and it’s going to have major consequences. And the consequences are both for the policy agenda and for Democratic politics more broadly.”

Carmen Gentile

Carmen Gentile is founder and editor-at-large of Postindustrial. He has worked for some of the world’s leading publications and news outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, CBS News and others. His book, “Blindsided by the Taliban,” documents his life as a war reporter and the aftermath of his brush with death after being shot with a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan.

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