As ballot counting continues and we see recounts in Florida and Georgia, it is apparent Democrats got much more than the half-a-loaf I wrote about the night of the midterm elections. With each day it becomes more evident that dislike and distrust of Donald Trump, combined with great Democratic candidates who focused their campaigns on the issues their constituents cared about, brought out a huge vote making it abundantly clear: “Donald your vision for our country is not the country we want.”
Voters elected scores of women, minorities and LGBTQ+ candidates around the nation who represent the real diversity of our nation. They represent the future and will not allow us to continue to move backwards.
When all the votes are counted, Democrats may have won at least 38 new seats in the House of Representatives. We won seven governor’s mansions, six legislative chambers, have four new attorneys general, control three more state supreme courts, have two more secretaries of state and more than 350 new state legislative seats. Yes Donald Trump, the people really, really, don’t love you.
Within those victories there are now 10 LGBTQ+ members of Congress, including Kyrsten Sinema. There are now two LGBTQ+ governors and a number of AG’s and at least 12 new members of State Houses across the nation. Those elected represent the diversity of America — LGBT, men and women, Caucasian, African American, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are forward looking representatives of the real America. Trump’s vision of America is clearly not one shared by the majority of people.
Women will comprise about 23 percent of the members of Congress with more than 100 women in the House. Now what that means is we still have a long way to go for equality but it is better, and as President Obama has said “better is good.”
In the days since the election we have woken up to some outrageous acts. First, on the day after the election, Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions naming Matthew Whitaker acting AG, a blatant attempt to stop the Robert Mueller investigation. Whitaker, a lawyer and political hack, is under investigation as an advisory board member of a scam organization in Florida. He’s a losing Republican candidate who became a TV talking head often stating the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt and should be brought to a close. Protesters quickly took to the streets in cities and towns across the nation and no less than Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George Conway III, along with Neal Katyal co-wrote an op-ed in the New York Times explaining why the appointment is unconstitutional.
Then a day later America woke to the horror of another senseless mass shooting, the 307th this year, this time at a country western bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Twelve dead including one young man who had actually survived the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Maybe this new Democratic House will finally pass some form of gun control. As the mother of Telemachus Orfanos who survived Las Vegas and died in Thousand Oaks said, “I don’t want any more of your prayers, I want gun control.”
The fight to reclaim America from Trumpism goes on and Democrats now have some power to fight back. They will control the budget bills. It is accepted the House and Senate have very distinct and separate functions. “In the Senate, it’s nominations and treaties, and in the House, it’s taxes and spending.” In addition, Trump has been put on notice there will be many hearings by a wide range of committees, now led by Democrats, into the sleaze he brought to Washington in every area of his administration.
While it’s true some of the newly elected members of the House ran on a platform of “I will not vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker,” it is becoming more apparent there is no one better prepared to corral the diverse members of the House of Representatives than Pelosi. She has proven a master at it. She is already working to form a strategic plan and turn Democrats into a unified fighting force.
My hope is Pelosi will work to bring a new generation of Democrats into leadership positions and teach them how to pass legislation and make progress. If these new members of Congress are to have long and productive careers they must actually be able to accomplish something for the constituents who elected them. Doing that will require some compromise. While never giving up their principles, compromise is the way the founders of our nation envisioned us being able to make progress and move forward.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.