By Robert C. Koehler
After the election comes … the coverage, which always, at least in the mainstream media, seems to reduce everything to winning and losing, to strategy and tactics, rather than to the deep issues shaping the future.
The mainstream-created context of this year’s midterms amounted to: Will there be a “red tsunami”? That is, will the GOP, riding joyfully on the back of the bucking bronco of inflation, overwhelm Sleepy Joe’s Democratic Party and grab control over the House and Senate? Or will the Dems hold on, luck out, and lose only minimally?
And the post-election news, of course, is the latter. The count continues as I write, and not all election results, at national and state levels, are known yet, but what is known indicates that both parties more or less held their own and there definitely was no red tsunami. For the Democrats, this is the equivalent of a big victory.
The New York Times, for instance, noted:
“Across the East Coast, in Virginia’s northern suburbs and mixed areas of Rhode Island and New Hampshire, embattled Democrats managed to hang on. They even knocked off a few Republicans here and there. In many tight races, abortion and Mr. Trump’s looming presence may have been the GOP’s undoing.”
Wow. Go, Democrats! Their milk-toast centrism kind of worked, with the help of the Supreme Court, which shocked the country by overturning Roe v. Wade and taking away American women’s 49 years of abortion rights. Perhaps “Mr. Trump’s” 2020 election denial, his MAGA base’s 2021 attempted coup and the looming threat of civil war also figured into the results. A fair number of American voters didn’t want that, apparently, and more of them than usual actually took the trouble to vote in this year’s midterms.
That, at any rate, is the context — corporate normalcy, you might say — in which the mainstream media is attempting to frame the 2022 elections. The Republicans get to go off the deep end and actually stand for something radical (proto-fascism), but the Democrats are just trying to keep America normal.
Fortunately, there is a progressive movement in this country, and this movement — this stand for sanity, this embrace of the future — was indeed present in the midterms, and had a significant impact. The Democratic Party, much to its own chagrin, is actually being forced to stand for something … beyond compromise.
“A number of newly elected progressives from across the country are poised to join the ‘Squad’ of left-wing champions in the U.S. House following Tuesday’s midterm elections,” Julia Conley writes at Common Dreams.
These include Summer Lee of Pennsylvania, Maxwell Frost of Florida, Delia Ramirez of Illinois, Greg Casar of Texas and Becca Balint of Vermont. Their issues include an increased minimum wage, labor rights and the right to unionize, gun sanity — and no doubt much, much more: issues that actually impact the global future. I’m sure they include the transcendence of racism and militarism, real voting rights and, of course, seriously facing, and dealing with, climate change and the maintenance of a habitable planet.
To put it another way, these voting events aren’t just political game playing, winning vs. losing. And the issues don’t end when the election is over. There is a movement — a cry for profound change — on the left as well as on the right, though they have nothing in common with one another. The progressive movement is nonviolent and is not about claiming power for its own sake (or to gratify the ego of its Dear Leader).
Becca Balint put it this way, speaking Tuesday night on Democracy Now: “Whether we hold the House or lose the House, the work is the same. We still have a democracy to save.”
In contrast, as Ralph Nader pointed out, the mainstream Democrats barely ran on any issues at all. The Democrats are “enchained by political-media consultants. If they lose the House and Senate, it’ll be because they lost it, not because the Republicans won it.”
Greg Casar, talking about Texas (which of course reelected its far-right Republican governor, Greg Abbott), said: “We’re not a red state. We’re an underorganized state, a voter-suppressed state. It’s harder to vote in Texas than anywhere else in the country.”
Nonetheless, this is changing, progress is happening. Democratic victories aren’t about “out-centering” the Republicans (we’re against immigrants too, but in a nicer way). No! “It’s about standing up for our values,” Casar said.
“You can win or lose elections,” he continued, “but you don’t ever lose a movement. Our work is on a much greater horizon than one election.”
What if we lived in a country that saw beyond itself, beyond its current institutions? Well, we do, but just not in an officially acknowledged way. The country and the world are changing, aka, evolving, in both terrifying and hope-creating ways, whether we like it or not. These changes are well beyond the control of contemporary politics — but not beyond humanity’s involvement.
This is the “greater horizon” to which we must open ourselves.
(Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, “Courage Grows Strong at the Wound,” is still available. Contact him at [email protected], visit his website at commonwonders.com or listen to him at Voices of Peace radio.)
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