I’ve seldom, if ever, been happier to have been wrong. I bought the idea that Biden’s unpopularity and the worst inflation in 40 years would give rise to a red wave. Instead, the resounding defeat of nearly all major MAGA candidates is an exaltation of the resilience of American democracy.
What’s particularly remarkable — epitomizing the notion that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others — is that probably the most important single author of these wonderfully unexpected election results is someone reviled by most of those who are celebrating these results: Justice Samuel Alito.
Contrary to another piece of mistaken conventional wisdom — that Alito and his colleagues in the Dobbs majority are an authoritarian cabal seeking to legislate American morality from the bench (if they were that, they would have ruled that the unborn are “persons” under the 14th Amendment and that the Constitution therefore protects their lives) — Alito meant what he said about returning the question of abortion rights to the democratic process. These elections show that’s exactly what happened.
Pennsylvania data, for example, shows abortion is as much a priority for voters as inflation, and shows higher than expected turnout of young female voters.
But once the dust settles and all the vote counting is done, even in the Georgia runoff, what’s next?
READ MORE — Schillinger + Rosica: Lawrence Tabas, it’s time to step down
A few thoughts:
1. I would like to believe we have turned the page on, or are about to turn the page on, both Trump and the MAGA movement. I welcome the growing legion of “Never Trumpers Again” — people, including colleagues of mine, who once made millions by supporting Trump and mocked me and my fellow OG Never Trumpers. It’s not at all clear, however, that their deathbed conversion will really matter.
2. While there was no red wave, it looks like Republicans have handily won the popular vote nationally in the midterm — a sharp turnaround from 2018 — and made major gains among Latino and Asian voters, moving towards cementing a cross-racial, non-college coalition.
3. Nothing about these results changes or lightens the rock the Democrats are still trying to pull up the metaphorical hill. There’s widespread belief, among non-college educated voters in particular, that the Democratic party has lost its mind and is gripped by an extreme ideology.
Though a decisive group of swing voters thankfully preferred it this time over the pro-coup, pro-Putin MAGA supporters, the Democratic Party today remains for many the party that wants to use your tax dollars to pay for the sex change surgeries of illegal alien criminals serving time in federal prisons, then release them and use more of your tax dollars to make sure these folks don’t have to pay for student loans to become your five year old’s kindergarten teacher.
4. The results here in Pennsylvania only underscore the upcoming battle lines within the Democratic Party as they interpret their victories. Does the future belong to John Fetterman, a man of the party’s left, who managed to do better than expected among MAGA voters by changing the packaging of the Sanders/Warren/Squad pitch, rather than the policies? Or does it belong to Josh Shapiro, who ran on, in many respects, a “conservative” platform (tough on crime, pro fossil fuel development, open to school choice, etc.)?
With the keystone state and its metropolis likely to be a national bellwether once more in 2023, some of this is already taking shape in the upcoming Democratic primary for Philadelphia mayor and city council. Some candidates have wrapped themselves in the colors of the progressive movement, while others have tried to adopt more socially conservative values.
Overall, the midterms strengthened the guardrails of American democracy for ‘24, with the moderate to left coalition which elected Biden staying intact, despite facing the strong headwinds of widespread disapproval of the perceived quality of life impacts of Democratic governance the last two years. Let’s rejoice in that.
But the work needed to present candidates for which Americans can enthusiastically vote, rather than picking bad from worse, is still just getting started.
Craig Snyder is former Chief of Staff to the late Senator Arlen Specter. During the 2022 midterm elections, he was a Never Trump candidate in the Pennsylvania GOP Senatorial Primary and then Director of Republicans 4 Shapiro.