Please Advise! Why’s the ‘Blue Wave’ Making Me Feel So Blue?

Is it because one Republican won while being quite dead? No. (RIP, though.)

By Steve Burgess 8 Nov 2018 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess writes about politics and culture for The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

Dear Dr. Steve,

Well, the United States mid-term elections are over and Democrats have taken control of the House of Representatives. That was the main goal. Mission accomplished.

Why do all my attempts to revel in victory feel so ineffectual?

Happy Yet Depressed

Dear HYD,

It was indeed quite an election down south, and as usual there were as many individual stories as on a battlefield. Some have received plenty of attention for obvious reasons.

For example, there was the victory of Republican Dennis Hof, a reality TV star and brothel owner who won a seat in the Nevada State Legislature. That seat should probably be a recliner, as Hof is currently deceased. In fairness to his Democratic opponent Lesia Romanov, she faced stiff competition. Hof’s breathless victory represents a breakthrough for one of America’s most marginalized groups, and it could set up an epic future presidential contest pitting Richard Nixon against FDR.

There were some isolated miracles, like Laura Kelly’s victory over Kansas gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach, a Trump ally described as “scary” in a recent informal poll of rabid dogs. Kobach campaigned with a replica machine gun and wanted to restore the appalling agenda of departing Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, a man whose policies were repealed and repudiated by his own GOP colleagues. In fact, Brownback was such a disaster that he managed to land a job in the Trump administration.

In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker was defeated at last, after which the populace joined hands and sang happy Munchkin songs. Dana Rohrabacher, the Republican representative for Moscow Central, was purged. Most importantly, the Democrats fulfilled their primary goal of taking control of the House with all of its investigatory power. Devin Nunes managed to get re-elected, but at least he no longer matters.

And yet, HYD, you still feel empty. So do many. Why? Part of it is simply expectation. Hopes were raised in several races. Many believed Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke would defeat Senator Ted Cruz in Texas. Alas, Cruz, who insists that he is indeed warm-blooded and that his offspring were born viviparously, was able to claim victory, later reportedly celebrating by unhinging his jaws and swallowing a bullfrog whole. Steve King won re-election in Iowa, which must be a big relief to the head of the local KKK who would surely hate to have King sniffing around for a new job. Meanwhile in Florida, the impressive Andrew Gillum was defeated by his antonym, Ron DeSantis. It was like seeing Sir Lancelot lose a jousting match to a toadstool based on the judges’ scorecards. Forget it, Jake. It’s Florida.

Expectations will kill you. The Avatar sequel is already a lock to be next year’s biggest disappointment. You get your hopes up and they are dashed, even if things don’t go that badly.

But it’s more than that. It’s not just Stacey Abrams and Beto O’Rourke that have you down. It’s the normality of it all. After two years of horror, a presidency unmatched in the most dystopian U.S. fiction, this is what the Democrats get? A handful of governorships, a modest House victory and losses in the Senate?

In the 2010 midterms, the first of Barack Obama’s presidency, the Democrats lost 63 seats. It was a blowout, a disaster, an epic repudiation of President Obama. In 1994, Bill Clinton’s first midterms, the Dems lost 54 seats to Newt Gingrich’s GOP.

Tuesday night, Trump’s Republicans lost 26 seats. After children in cages, Muslim bans, flagrant racism, support for white supremacy, fomenting violence against Jews, minorities, and the media, presidential lies mounting faster than Usain Bolt’s Fitbit, almost hourly demonstrations that the nation’s ostensible leader has the moral and ethical constitution of a saltwater crocodile, and the unleashing of caged demons that now roam the American political landscape like plague-bearing bats, the American people finally stood up and said, well, President Trump, we’ll issue you a mild rebuke. But don’t worry, you’ll get a few more senators as compensation.

Consider this — evidence suggests that the Brett Kavanaugh hearings were indeed a boost for the president. Missouri senator Claire McCaskill and North Dakota senator Heidi Heitkamp voted against Kavanaugh and both lost their seats. It would seem that too many Americans watched the raging meltdown of a Supreme Court nominee and decided that those darn Democrats were just a bunch of meanies.

Who knows what or how the U.S. voter thinks today? The day after the election, the president held an unhinged press conference during which he raged at CNN’s Jim Acosta as if the pair were two boxers at a pre-fight weigh-in. Based on recent events, it’s impossible to guess whether that shameful performance hurt the President or helped him. In gauging the responses of the U.S. electorate it is necessary to simply shrug and say, “Who knows?” It’s like trying to understand how a pigeon or an octopus or a housefly sees the world. We can only speculate.

For the past two years, the resistance has sounded a warning cry: “Don’t normalize Trump.” I think that’s why you’re so down, HYD. The U.S. has a president who is not normal. The situation should not be normal. Alarm bells should be deafening. People ought to realize that the corpse of Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof would constitute an Oval Office upgrade. But the midterm elections were pretty damn routine. And despite the arrival of that small blue wave, you have every reason to be blue.  [Tyee]

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