Another midterm cycle has passed. Same shit, different day. People who march at the drop of a hat, sometimes traveling hundreds of miles to do so, can’t be bothered to vote two or three times a year.
Despite a dramatic uptick for November’s general election that drove midterm turnout above 40% for the first time since 1970, the pace of change remained modest. The devil is always in the details. Or, rather, the demographics. Lots of new midterm voters. Very few first-time voters. Even fewer newbies during the various party primaries held throughout 2018.
Turnout for Millennials and Gen Z held steady as the most diverse 20% slice of the vote nationally. Gen X remains mostly absent as well at 15% of the total. Voters over 50? Off the charts in many states.
Instead of a Blue Tsunami created by massive “youth” turnout, we got a bare minimum of forward progress to keep the wheels from coming off the bus. Rather than veto-proof super majorities, the democrats recaptured the House with a modicum of power. They won’t get progressive legislation or impeachment through the Senate, but it’s an important check.
We also saw important movement in individual Congressional districts and state races. The Democratic Party took back several statehouses, slowing down the Red Tide constantly choking off effective government. A record number of women won tough primary elections to capture seats not before in play. Women of color and from the LBGTQ communities joined the 2018 freshman class.
What needs to happen now is a doubling or tripling of turnout among voters under forty. Starting with every state and local election in 2019 and continuing forever. It is the only answer to our current dilemma. It’s already proved an effective national strategy for progressive democrats in districts as diverse as Sharice Davids in Kansas to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York.
We can make a changing of the guard fait accompli by simply showing up. We can have an even more dramatic impact by challenging an incumbent of either party in your local race during a midterm. No reason the GOP can’t recapture its more moderate and populist past. The republicans need to move back to their traditional place in the center while allowing the democrats to go further left.
Then we can argue over the best solutions to address the challenges and opportunities of a shared reality. The only cure for toxicity in government and politics is overwhelming participation by Americans across every demographic.
It takes a village to save a nation.
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