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A disturbance in the Matrix

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Jim Opionin by Jim Powers
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While several midterm races remain too close to call at the time I’m writing this column, and a runoff looms in December in the Warnock/Walker Senatorial race, there are a few general observations about the midterm elections that seem safe to speculate about. What should have been a Republican earthquake turned into a mere disturbance in the Matrix, and those of us who are news junkies all have an opinion of why.

Numerous Republican politicians and Right-Wing Media celebrities were quick to address the gorilla in the corner during the lead up to the midterms, the former President’s influence on the election outcomes. The sharp knives came out almost immediately, and most were aimed straight at Donald Trump. It’s hard to reach any other conclusion than that inserting himself into the campaigns was a drag on many of the candidates, for a couple of reasons.

Many agree that the quality of the candidates, or lack thereof, was one factor. Trump backed several candidates who clearly under performed in elections they should have won easily. And those still locked in close races. Trump, of course, is blaming others, including his wife, for steering him toward endorsing unelectable candidates. While he takes credit for over 200 winning candidates, these were primarily candidates in safe races who would have won regardless of his endorsement. The losses tended to be in consequential races. Races that should not been close for the out of power party in a midterm election.

Other Republicans have pointed out that voters other than the MAGA faithful have moved past relitigating the 2020 election and Trump’s grievance driven rehashing of old, now irrelevant feuds. His unending rallies supposedly held to support Republican candidates focused primarily on himself and raised money that mostly went into his own pocket, not those of the candidates.

But Trump was only one factor in the disappointing for Republicans midterms. Several court decisions restricting personal liberties drove many Democrat voters to the polls. The Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, throwing decisions about abortion back to state legislators, was an earthquake among Democrats and Progressives. Realizing that the SC was willing to undo 50-year-old decisions on a whim convinced a lot of folks that Democracy itself iis under threat. The efforts by Republican state legislators to restrict voting rights also set off alarm bells. Attacks against LGBTQ+ individuals also raised the perceived threat level to democracy.

Voters seem to have tired in general of the politics of hate and division, voting for more rational candidates who at least pretended to want to move the country forward, rather than burn it down.

I hope that we’ve turned a corner and will move beyond the us against them politics of the Trump era. Trump’s star seems to be descending. Perhaps that’s a good sign. 

We are probably heading for at least a couple of years of gridlock. I had a good friend that frequently said that gridlock in government is a good thing, because maybe they won’t be able to steal from us for a while! I hope that will not be the result of all of this. We face too many serious problems in this country to do nothing for the next two years.

If you voted, thank you, thank you, thank you. Maintain your vigilance. The threat to democracy is real. 

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