It took some time, but I finally came to the conclusion that the only viable exit from this chaotic, cul-de-sac presidency was the midterm election. I had long ago abandoned the idea of impeachment. The Senate would never agree. And so I waited for Nov. 6 with a feeling of both hopeful and foreboding urgency. And when I heard for the first time the metaphor “blue wave,” well, I made it my own. If only.
I read newspapers. I listened to reporters, lawyers, and party strategists, opining about candidates and campaigns.
As the weeks passed, for all of the hair-on-fire concerns about the Russians and their troll farms, it became clear that what kept Democrats up at night was homegrown Republican trolls plotting voter suppression. This was made manifest in Georgia, where the secretary of state, Brian Kemp, who was responsible for conducting the state’s election, was also the Republican candidate for governor and had a history of injecting partisan politics into a job that should be nonpartisan.
His office had suspended the voter registrations of 53,000 Georgians, the vast majority being African-Americans, for reasons of bad penmanship. In other states the objective was to make voting as onerous as possible. An endurance test, photo IDs required.
I watched Trump jet from rally to rally, fully prepared to say and promise anything when appealing to the cheering, red-hatted MAGA crowds. Be afraid, be very afraid, he insisted: of Democrats who want to throw open the southern borders to an approaching caravan of terrorists and criminals bringing disease and MS-13 and those Trumpian “anchor babies.”
In response to this imminent blitzkrieg, Trump ordered an additional 8,000 troops to the border, referring to it as his human wall. It’s remains a shameful use of our troops.
I watched Trump (a vote for whomever is a vote for me!) campaign and found a suspension of disbelief all but necessary. His words and the MAGA supporters’ approbation were the stuff of fiction.
Throughout the fall I wondered if these monochromatic, cheering Americans are not hearing what I’m hearing? Can the prism through which I view our nation be so jarringly different from theirs? But then, perhaps it doesn’t matter what Trump says as long as he is a shameless, norm-breaking autocrat who insists that only “I can fix it.”
I mean, these folks are Trump’s red wave. But, I pondered, how is it possible that they believe that Medicare (for all would be the most elegant) is not essential to the common good? Ditto expanded Medicaid? How many in the MAGA crowd reap the benefits of Social Security? Or have pre-existing conditions? Are they truly prepared to repeal the Affordable Care Act and then what? Are they not in favor of humane immigration laws? How about an affordable path to higher education? Or ubiquitous pre-schools/head start programs and job training for, say, coal miners, et al? Let’s level the playing field regarding taxes, create sensible gun laws (please!), or equal pay for equal work, and 21st century infrastructure. Let’s avoid the hubristic trap of Middle East wars lasting into perpetuity, costing our nation dearly in lives and treasure. Let’s embrace our diversity (it’s our strength), hold close our free press, value our rich culture, and, above all, our system of government. With all its imperfections, our Constitution is extraordinary.
I would acknowledge that I view all of the above as being downright sensible. Capitalism does not have to be Darwinian. We can push ahead and still care about the common good (e.g. clean air and water) and about one another.
Indeed, my hope was for a massive Blue Wave, a full-throated repudiation of Trump and his Republican ilk who have consistently placed party before country.
And, remembering to breathe, I now view 30-37 congressional blue seats (and still counting) as having delivered that message. Now it’s Mueller’s turn.
Chris Honoré is a Daily Tidings columnist.