With the 2018 midterm elections mercifully over, I hope to return to being able to read the news without screaming internally and fantasizing about throwing my computer monitor out the window (don’t worry, baby, you know I can’t live without you).
It turns out the much-hyped “blue wave” was more like a trickle, but it was enough to put Democrats over the top in the US House of Representatives. Two years of nonstop wall-to-wall negative coverage of President Trump wasn’t enough to produce the same kind of earthshaking victory like the historic Republican 63-seat win in 2010.
This was mostly because the economy is doing so well. Republicans shot themselves in the foot by not making this election all about the economy. All the party in power has to do is explain why they deserve to stay in power, and Republicans are terrible at doing that. All Democrats had was a referendum on Trump’s personality.
If the economy was in the dumpster I think the Democratic message would’ve resonated a lot more, but because growth is booming and unemployment is at historic lows there’s not a compelling need for change. Republicans could’ve easily walked to victory by avoiding controversy and staying on message. With Trump at the helm, that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Locally, the Illinois election results were pretty predictable. Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) was a stubborn venture capitalist who only won in 2014 because his predecessor was so terrible. He spent four embarrassing years accomplishing nothing and pissing off both Republicans and Democrats. JB Pritzker walked to victory with nearly 54%. I voted for the Libertarian Party candidate, who disappointingly finished fourth behind the Conservative Party candidate.
I’m not sure why the Libertarian Party has failed to effectively take advantage of voter dissatisfaction with both major parties. Their philosophy of personal and economic liberty should resonate with people. In New York, where I’ve been stationed at Fort Drum for the past several years, I saw signs for Libertarian candidate for governor Larry Sharpe all over the place, but he ended up only getting 1.6% of the vote.
If you’re a Republican in a predominantly Democratic state like Illinois or New York, why not take a chance on a third party candidate? Especially one who has the potential to appeal to a broader electorate? I guess by appealing to liberals on social issues and conservatives on economic issues, libertarians end up attracting neither. It also doesn’t help that third party candidates tend to be eccentrics.
At any rate, with Democrats in charge of the U.S. House and Republicans in charge of the U.S. Senate, I can confidently predict nothing will get accomplished in Washington for the next two years. It would take some kind of grand bargain between President Trump and the Democrats to get things moving, but that would require both sides to crawl out of the deep trenches they’ve dug for themselves. Stranger things have happened, I suppose.