PLEASE, Thank Your Individual Gods for 2018's Midterm Victories

By Jack O’ Dwyer

Image: Edited book cover from “Democracy Under Attack: How the Media Distort Policy and Politics”

Image: Edited book cover from “Democracy Under Attack: How the Media Distort Policy and Politics”

Democrats were greeted with multiple hard-won victories after this year’s midterm elections--standing in defiance of the stumpy, orange menace currently plaguing our government.

With a turn out of 113 million voters, the first in our history to exceed 100 million, United States citizens were able to elect 12 women to the house, 9 women for governor, and 96 into the house--42 of which are women of color.

Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives with 225 seats in comparison to the Republicans’ 200. This is a vital stepping stone on the road to stopping Trump’s inane legislative ideas. In order for laws to be passed, they usually have to make it through both the House and the Senate--which were previously controlled by the Republican party. It goes without saying that The People™ were quite ready to throw a wrench into the engine of the “Trump Train”.

There were multiple state firsts this election, including the ever popular, brand-new, openly-gay governor of Colorado: Jared Polis. If only I cared at all about what Kim Davis had to say!

Among these wins were Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, two candidates who became the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress in their respective districts. The two campaigned together ahead of Omar’s primary and both now-congresswomen were associated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to be elected to Congress. Tlaib had the backing of the Democratic Socialists of America, of which Ocasio-Cortez was a member, while Omar had the endorsement of Cortez, herself.Kansas elected its first openly-lesbian, Native American woman, Sharice Davids, who largely destroyed her opposing candidates for her seat in the House. It was a spot well-earned as one of the only two Native American women ever elected to Congress! Davids is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

The other historic Native American woman is Debra Haaland of New Mexico, who also completely demolished her opponents in the election at 59 percent to Republican Janice Arnold-Jones’ 36.4 percent and Libertarian Lloyd Princeton’s 4.6 percent. Haaland is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna.

Other Congressional wins and/or firsts include Ayanna Pressley, the first African-American woman to be elected from Massachusetts. She defeated incumbent Michael Capuano who had served for 10 terms before her primary win.

Connecticut’s 5th congressional district elected Jahana Hayes, a former schoolteacher who will now become the state’s first ever African-American woman voted into the House.

Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia became the first Latinas to represent Texas in the House. Escobar will replace district 16’s Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who attempted to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz and unfortunately failed. Garcia beat out both Republican candidate Phillip Aronoff and Libertarian Cullen Burns for Texas’ 26th district. It shouldn’t surprise you that inside the cities inside this district are Houston and Pasadena.

Individuals aside, this year’s midterms brought plenty of great legislative changes, as well, sure to meaningfully rock the boat of many U.S. citizens.

Florida approved Amendment 4 to its constitution, which restored the right to vote for felons who have completed their sentences and were not convicted of sexual assault or murder. Previously, citizens convicted of felonies had to be approved to vote by the Executive Clemency Board--but mostly by the governor who made the final decision either way. This amendment passed with a 64 percent approval and will go into effect on Jan. 8.

Massachusetts approved Question 3 by 67.8 percent. This supports a law that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in public spaces (read: bathrooms). Failure to comply results in a penalty fine upwards of $100 or a brief prison sentence, depending on the severity of the infraction. My only issue is here is there’s still 32 percent of the population who voted against this, but I guess I can’t expect this state to be a pure blue haven of acceptance.

Michigan became the tenth state to legalize recreational marijuana for individuals 21 and older. The law imposes a 12-plant growing maximum and a 10 ounce limit kept in residences. Amounts over 2.5 ounces must be securely kept. The proposal just passed by 56 percent. In related news, Missouri and Utah joined the states legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana.

Washington imposed an age limit, 21, to the legal purchase of firearms.

Arkansas and Missouri both agreed to increase minimum wage to $11 and $12, respectively.

Unfortunately, this election wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Democrats lost their chance at a Senate majority with their 44 seats to Republicans’ 51. However, the 2 independent seats, belonging to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Maine Sen. Angus King, tend to vote with the Democrats.

Alabama, Oregon, and West Virginia approved measures to block women’s access to safe abortion.

The results of the 2018 midterms brings with it not the “Blue Wave” promised, but it does bring a wave of hope. Historic victories for minorities and marginalized groups litter the battlefield of United States’ politics like growing rays of sunlight after an abrasively destructive, tacky-gold-clad hurricane.

Let’s not stop now.