Still Fighting for An America I've Never Seen
I have never seen America.
Yes, like Bruce Springsteen, I was born in the U.S.A. But, as I’ve argued before, America is less a place than a set of democratic ideals: equality, self-governance, the rule of law, freedom of speech, freedom of protest, liberty and justice for all. America is a vision that Americans have struggled — and largely failed — to realize for 246 years.
But if we’ve never quite managed to bring it more than fleetingly to life, seldom has that vision been more directly threatened than in Tuesday’s elections. Republicans placed hundreds of election deniers on state ballots for such key posts as secretary of state, U.S. senator, U.S. representative and governor. At this writing, it’s hard to get a handle on how denialism fared, as witness two New York Times headlines that appeared online within hours of one another:
“Election Denial Didn’t Play as Well as Republicans Hoped”
“Election Skeptics Are Winning Races Across The Country”
In other words: Who knows? The picture is decidedly mixed and likely to remain so for some time to come, especially given that Georgia Sen. the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker, the mistake that walks like a man, are headed for a December runoff that will likely determine which party controls the Senate. So at this point, there are only a few things we can say with certainty.
One is that the so-called “red wave” of GOP dominance did not materialize. Republicans eked out a pink puddle at best.
Another is that the forces of election denial notched some significant wins, with the Washington Post suggesting they might even constitute a “sizable majority” of the House GOP caucus, an ominous sign given the prospect of a Republican House speaker presiding over the chamber in the 2024 presidential election. One denier, Ron DeSantis, remains governor of Florida with his easy Tuesday night win, leaving him on track to bring his brand of white-grievance politics — he is like Donald Trump, if Trump were smart — to the presidential stage.
Yet another thing we can say with certainty is that election denial suffered some high-profile and even embarrassing defeats, as Trump-approved extremists like would-be Pennsylvania senator Mehmet Oz, would-be Pennsylvania governor Doug Mastriano and would-be Michigan governor Tudor Dixon all went down in flames.
Finally, about the election just past, we can say this: Democracy survived.