As the dust is settling, with the mixture of finishing counting ballots and races being conceded, the true realities of what happened in the 2018 Midterm Elections is taking concrete form. From the earliest hours of November 6, numbers showed that both Democrats and Republicans, old and new, were taking to the polls, flexing their democratic rights, and showing the political regimes from local, state, and federal levels that the current state of being is not acceptable.
I am blessed to live in a state that is predominately Blue state, but this midterm election saw select, stalwart red counties turn blue as well. Even in this large blue state, those flipped counties are huge in the grand scheme of things. California was up for electing a new executive leadership: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Controller, Insurance Commissioner, Treasurer, and two State Supreme Court Judges. 6 of the Republican House Members that had voted in favor of the dismantling of ACA were ousted in this Midterm Elections. District 10, 25, 39, 45, 48, 49 all saw the incumbents removed and replaced with Democrats.
Across the nation – cities and districts were shifting. Wisconsin ousted Governor Steve Walker and replaced him with Democratic Tony Evers. Kansas, a predominantly red state, elected three democrats to their House Representatives, two of which were women. Of the two, one is a woman of color, veteran, and lesbian. They also voted a Democratic Female Governor, Laura Kelly. In Houston, the midterm elections saw 19 Female African American Judges being elected into office.
On the Federal level, there was results for both major political parties. The Senate was able to maintain its Republican dominate hold. The upcoming Senate will be 52 to 45 in favor of the Republican Party. While there was initial hope that seats could have been shifted, it wasn’t meant to be. What was crucial was the drastic change in the House of Representatives. 2019 will see 233 seats to 201 in favor of the Democratic Party. There were 195 Democrats that were up for election as well as gained 38 seats. The House having a Democratic swing is important in the scheme of checks and balances. It is one of the sites where federal law is made. It can also become a support or buffer between the Senate and Presidency.
For example, it was the House that vetted and sent Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court appointment to the Senate. It is also the House of Representatives that can initiate and bring forth Impeachment of the President as writing into our Constitution. Article I, Section 2, Clause 5 grants the House “the sole power of impeachment.” It true Check and Balance, Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 grants the Senate, “the sole Power to try all Impeachments”. Not only could this new Democratic lead House bring forth Impeachment procedures, they can also provide a stop gap to policies, repeals, and approvals of upcoming bills, laws, and policies that will be presented by the Senate and the President.
The current regime and the 45th President will find a new rising road block with all these new voting decisions, most importantly with the representation and presence of women. Before the 2018 Midterm election, there were only 107 women in both the House and the Senate. 99 women will be sworn into the House in 2019 and there will be 24 women in the Senate.
Among the many firsts: the first two Muslim congresswomen (Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar); the youngest women ever elected to Congress in New York’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Iowa’s Abby Finkenauer; and the first Native American women in Congress, New Mexico’s Debra Haaland and Sharice Davids of Kansas.
And yes, even with the record numbers of voter turnout, there were still some large issues leading up to the election and after. There were many cases where there was attempts of voter suppression, illegal attempts to un-register or deny citizens their rights and ability to vote, and improper counting of votes. Which lead to many races being too close to call, recounts, and the like. We can hold onto fiercely the fact that many Americans not only answered the call to public office, cast their votes, and intent to make inroads in created a better America.
What we can take from these Midterm elections is that men, women, young, old, white-black-brown, and all political parties showed up to raise their voices, flex their civic duties, and made a stance. The epic soccer player Abby Wambach’s 2018 Barnard College’s commencement speech sums it up,
Women must champion each other. This can be difficult for us. Women have been pitted against each other since the beginning of time for that one seat at the table. Scarcity has been planted inside of us and among us. This scarcity is not our fault, but it is our problem. And it is within our power to create abundance for women where scarcity used to live. As you go out into the world, amplify each other voices. Demand seats for women, people of color, and all marginalized people at every table where decisions are made. Call out each other’s wins, and just like we do on the field, claim the success of one woman as the collective success for all women. Joy, success, power. These are not pies, where a bigger slice for her means a smaller slice for you. These are infinite. In any Revolution, the way to make something true, starts with believing it is. Let’s claim infinite joy, success, and power together. Her victory is your victory, celebrate it.
Anjeanette LeBoeuf is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Whittier College. She is the Queer Advocate for the Western Region of the American Academy of Religion. Anjeanette also writes the for activist blog, Engaged Gaze. Her focuses are divided between South Asian religions and religion and popular culture. She has become focused on exploring the representations of women in all forms of popular culture and how religion plays into them. She is an avid supporter of both soccer and hockey. She is also a television and movie buff which probably takes way too much of her time, but she enjoys every minute of it. Anjeanette has had a love affair with books from a very young age and always finds time in her demanding academic career to crack open a new book.