The mid-terms are finally over and they have gone as most analysts would have predicted. The Democrats have taken control of the house, winning around 30 seats. The Republicans keep control of the Senate, maintaining a very slim majority. Governorships slightly favor Republicans and Texas leadership remains fairly Republican.
Despite this fairly routine outcome, the night still brought many surprises and causes for celebration.
We saw tremendous voter turnout for a mid-term election, with some estimates as high as 114 million voters.
We were reminded that America is purple.
And we saw that Texas is already purple, and moving more in that direction. Beto may have lost, but we see our state moving more into battleground state territory. Cruz lost by a much narrower percentage than he should have in "red" Texas. Partly because of the hype surrounding Beto, but also partly because Cruz is an extremely unlikable candidate. Texans flipped two house seats Democratic and one in Tarrant County, the most staunchly conservative county in Texas. Texans flipped two state senate seats Democratic and nine state house seats democratic. The majority of the State Board of Education is now Democratic. And with the shifting demographics of the state, this is something that is going to continue to trend towards change. That's incredible!
We have another year of the woman, with over 100 women taking seats in the House of Representatives. This shatters previous records of female representation, though it still represents a long way to go.
We have seen several first in this election. First Native American women to win seats in Congress. Youngest woman ever elected to Congress. First Muslim women to win seats in Congress. First Somali-American to serve in Congress. First African-American woman to represent Massachusetts and Connecticut. First female senator for Tennessee. First Latina women to represent Texas. First openly gay male governor. First female governors of South Dakota and Maine.
All around we have seen a number of diverse candidates elected to office.
And miracle of all miracles, beer and wine sales passed in Jasper County.
We've also seen some rather unpleasant things in this election cycle.
It would seem the definition of irony is an image going around today. The image reads "If your party won, don't gloat. If your party lost, don't despair. This has been hard on all of us. Treat others the way you want to be treated. We all need it."
While I may agree with the sentiment, it's a little hard to take from those who only post it after "their party" suffers a loss. For I remember their eight years of complaining under one president, followed by minimizing complaints under the next. These victories will be celebrated in the moment, for in many instances, they represent tremendous change and truly remarkable victories. From there we can move on to the harder step of working together once the high has worn off.
We've seen that many people need a refresher in civics and especially in their "-isms," so they can have a greater understanding in how republicanism is supposed to work and can understand how Democratic Socialism and Socialism are not the same thing. Or perhaps they could understand how many "socialist" programs they actually support and approve of.
We've also seen that there are many people that still do not grasp the political reality of our times. Democrats did not win because illegals voted or because of voter fraud. Instances of voter fraud in actuality are exceedingly rare. Republicans did not win because of voter suppression or gerrymandering. Though we know that this has occurred. Either side won because roughly half of the country supports them. Put another way, it is generally safe to assume that whatever you believe, roughly half the country disagrees with you. That's just how divided we are.
Given that, for election purposes, we have to start with the presumption that roughly 40% of America will vote Democrat NO MATTER WHAT and roughly 40% will vote Republican NO MATTER WHAT. So, roughly 80% of voters are already decided, leaving 20% as the deciding factor. I honestly believe it's probably closer to 45%, 45%, and 10%, respectively.
You can see this in the number of elections won with one candidate with a low 50-something percent and the other with a high 40-something percent, just like all of the other recent previous elections. Look at Ted Cruz and Beto O'Rourke. 50.89% Cruz, 48.32% O'Rourke. The tiniest of margins.
That should be a sobering thought. It should serve as a sobering reminder of why we have to work together. And that perhaps, one party does not have all the answers. Instead we are using it to demonize half the country for daring to have a different opinion on how we can improve. For daring to disagree.
Perhaps we can proceed from there. Perhaps we can begin to treat each other as fellow citizens and work together to compromise and move forward. I don't know. It doesn't seem likely, but stranger things have happened.
We saw that proof last night.