Politics

The 2014 Midterms: An Election of Huge Contradictions...

Americans don’t love either political party but they sure liked electing Republicans last night.

Despite having a party-wide unfavorability rating of 53 percent, the GOP won 14 governorships and counting while retaining the U.S. House and taking over the majority in the Senate.

It was also a night when voters in four red states flocked to the polls to raise the minimum wage and Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C. legalized marijuana. Medical marijuana was on the ballot in Florida, but despite getting a majority vote, it fell shy of the 60 percent vote needed to change the state’s constitution.

All this adds up to a contradictory plate of Americas liking a minimum wage increase and relaxing their views on marijuana – while electing, most often, the party that’s against those things. It’s two steps forward, three steps back.

Election 2014 was fraught for directionless Democrats from the beginning. Despite some successes with the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act, Democrats struggled to override a narrative where Republicans across the country didn’t so much run against their Democratic opponents, but ran against President Obama and his shrinking poll numbers.

While a recent poll revealed 50 percent of Americans want more politicians who would be willing to compromise and work across the aisle in Congress, most political watchers greeted the new GOP controlled chaos with cries of doom and gloom on how obfuscation, gridlock, and outright hostility would worsen. Republicans don’t have a veto-proof or filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, and the White House, despite Obama only issuing two vetoes his entire presidency, has stated it will push back against many of the GOP-backed bills that have passed the House.

There’s also tension within the party, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who will now be No. 2 in the new Senate Majority’s leadership, has stated that he doesn’t “think Republicans can overreach…I don’t think we can say it’s our way or the highway,” in regards to taking a slim majority, but fellow Texas Senator Ted Cruz differs, believing a Republican held Senate should be just as confrontational and combative as the GOP-led House.

Wrote David McCumber for the Houston Chronicle:

Many will ascribe Republicans' Senate successes to a far better candidate-vetting performance by the mainstream of the party in this cycle. But there will be more tea party firebrands in the House, such as David Brat, who knocked off House leadership member Eric Cantor in Virginia. So the struggle for the soul of the GOP will continue.

Another contradiction? The party that ran with the most diverse plate of candidates, in terms of ethnicity, age and gender is the same party that pushed voter suppression laws to depress youth, minority and women voter turnout. Meanwhile, the face of the Democratic Party is former secretary of state, former senator and former First Lady Hillary Clinton, who is 67 years old.

These actions reflect our uncertain times as we press for a more egalitarian future, while still holding steady onto the less progressive trappings of the past out of nostalgia. At least for the GOP no one managed to make an embarrassing flub about rape this cycle, tamping down the “extreme” narrative Republicans have been slapped with in recent years, so that’s progress in its own way.