A lot of Americans were breathing sighs of relief Wednesday. With Democrats in control of the House, there will be some accountability–at least some measure of those “checks and balances” not enough of us learned about in high school civics.
The problem is, while sanity won a skirmish, it didn’t win the war. Just two examples of what reasonable people are up against:
From The Hill, we learn that Republican state Rep. Matt Shea, who published a manifesto calling for “war” against enemies of Christianity, was reelected in Washington state.
Shea, a six-term legislator, won with 58.3 percent of the vote, defeating his Democratic challenger by a comfortable margin, according to local NBC affiliate KHQ 6.
In a manifesto he published and distributed, titled “Biblical Basis for War,” Shea calls for the end of same-sex marriage, abortion and the death of all non-Christian males in America if religious law is not followed.
And then, of course, the news has been full of terrifying details about Jeff Sessions’ replacement at the Department of Justice. (If you thought it would be difficult to exceed the mismatch between Sessions and the word Justice, you were wrong…). In 2014, when the new acting Attorney General was a candidate for the U.S. Senate, he said he would only support federal judges who “hold a biblical view of justice.” And not just any biblical view–an explicitly New Testament view.
As a lawyer, one might expect him to know that setting religious conditions for holding a public office would violate the Iowa and U.S. constitutions. He was effectively saying that if elected, he would see no place for a judge of Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, agnostic or other faith, or of no faith. Yet no one in the audience or on the podium seemed to have a problem with that, and his answer drew applause.
Whitaker is also on record as criticizing the Special Counsel inquiry as a “witch hunt.” (hmm..where have I heard that phrase before?)
These are just two example out of the many, many others we might point to, and they underscore the points made in Gin and Tacos, in a post that may be the most perceptive commentary on the election and the country that I’ve seen in a very long time.
The post was titled I Know Why You’re Sad.
On paper, Tuesday was a good day for Democrats. They took the House for the first time in eight years. Several important Governorships (in advance of post-Census 2020 redistricting battles) were won. Notably vile Republicans like Kris Kobach, Scott Walker, and Dana Rohrabacher lost. The high-visibility Senate races Democrats lost (Missouri, Tennessee) were pipe dreams anyway. You already knew that Florida sucks, hard. So you’re not sad because “The Democrats did badly.”
You’re also not sad because Beto lost, or Andrew Gillum lost, or any other single candidate who got people excited this year fell short. They’re gonna be fine. They will be back. You haven’t seen the last of any of them. Winning a Senate race in Texas was never more than a long shot. Gillum had a realistic chance, but once again: It’s Florida.
So why are we sad? Because Ed (the author of Gin and Tacos doesn’t share his last name) is right. We are still sad.
No, you’re sad for the same reason you were so sad Wednesday morning after the 2016 Election. You’re sad because the results confirm that half of the electorate – a group that includes family, neighbors, friends, random fellow citizens – looked at the last two years and declared this is pretty much what they want. You’re sad because any Republican getting more than 1 vote in this election, let alone a majority of votes, forces us to recognize that a lot of this country is A-OK with undisguised white supremacy. You’re sad because once again you have been slapped across the face with the reality that a lot of Americans are, at their core, a lost cause. Willfully ignorant. Unpersuadable. Terrible people. Assholes, even.
There’s more, and every word is worth reading, but let me just share the conclusion.
These people are not one conversation, one fact-check, and one charismatic young Democratic candidate away from seeing the light. They’re reactionary, mean, ignorant, uninterested in becoming less ignorant, and vindictive. They hate you and they will vote for monsters to prove it.
Remember this feeling. Remember it every time someone tells you that the key to moving forward is to reach across the aisle, show the fine art of decorum in practice, and chat with right-wingers to find out what makes them tick. Remember the nagging sadness you feel looking at these almost entirely positive results; it will be your reminder that the only way to beat this thing is to outwork, outfight, and out-organize these people. They are not going to be won over and they will continue to prove that to you every chance they get.
We’re sad because he’s right.
There may be some “very fine people” among the Trump voters. But there aren’t very many. And we’re sad because we are beginning to recognize that there are some compromises that are impossible– and some aisles that simply can’t be crossed– without losing our souls.