The election results, for the House and many other offices, are far from final. But unlike every midterm since 2002, and most of the long term before that, the president’s party didn’t crash. And it may prove to be better than the Democrats. The reasons for that are not well known. But some facts are clear.
Republicans assured the electorate that criminals are coming to attack them and immigrants are coming across the border with fentanyl to kill their children. (Fox News went with fentanyl-laced candy as its Halloween trick.) It was a visceral message, delivered across the country. In fact, Republicans told voters that a Democratic victory would lead to a swift and violent death – for them and their families. Inflation would drive up funeral costs.
Meanwhile, Democrats have told voters that a Republican victory will lead to a slow and violent death — of their rights and their democracy. Many said it was a mistake for Democrats to force this issue on a beleaguered, unhappy electorate. It required voters to set aside immediate concerns in favor of protecting a long-term philosophical and humanistic agenda. Who would care?
It seems to be enough for women and young people – it’s always women and young people, isn’t it? – they held a real threat, to yourself and to the country. Abortion rights appear to be gaining ground everywhere they’ve been on the ballot, including Kentucky. Americans, including a few dissenters in the church, do not want abortion rights. In fact, it is possible that the middle death was set in June, when a proud majority of the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Of course, it is also possible that a large number of voters have realized that the series of Benghazi cases in Hunter Biden and the organizations that are said to have “awakened” are not likely to reduce crime or the rise of world prices. Perhaps some voters even understand that the erosion of Republican depth in government is directly related to the abandonment of democratic values and commitment by many Republican lawmakers.
Many on the left will be reveling in Donald Trump’s worst night. But the GOP continues to outperform Trump for some time. Recently, Republican voters said they were more loyal to Trump than to the GOP. Now they say something different. Trumpism does not need Trump to succeed. The landslide victory of Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida, Trump’s new enemy, is a testament to the continued dominance of Trumpism.
Like Trump, DeSantis has a negative authoritarian influence, using the power of government against his chosen targets — immigrants, trans kids, Mickey Mouse. DeSantis, however, has the same skills and intelligence that Trump has, even as Trump remains the party’s top contender. DeSantis has a greater chance than Trump to bring about the success of Trumpism. However, that hope is more stable today than it seemed yesterday.
However, there is no quick way out of the social problems of democracy. Republicans are now willing to lie. Words are important in a democracy, where actions are often done with words. Hundreds of dissidents who have won Republican nominations for high elected office assert that the party has little commitment to democratic rhetoric, values or practices.
“Electoral challenger” is a vague term that many media outlets have settled on to undermine the structure and process of democracy. Currently, the term refers to someone who rejects election results. But given the power to pursue their own agendas, those who object to elections will be in a position to object to the actual process of fair elections, not just their results. That desire was directly affected this week. Democracy in America is strong because of that.
On a night that saw many Democrats win, the most important act, and perhaps the most lasting, belonged to the loser. “I have the opportunity to concede this race to JD Vance,” Representative Tim Ryan said after losing his long-shot bid for the US Senate seat in Ohio. “Because the way this country works is that when you lose an election, you concede.”
Never has anyone disappointed so many, so easily.
More from Bloomberg Opinion:
• The First Eight Paths from the Middle: Jonathan Bernstein
• Ron DeSantis Moves Florida From Purple to Red: Ramesh Ponnuru
• Without the Red Tide, Now It Could Be Weimar America: Andreas Kluth
This column does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Francis Wilkinson is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering US politics and policy. Previously, he was an editor for The Week, a columnist for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist.
More stories like this are available at bloomberg.com/opinion