Going to northeastern California for the 2022 US midterm elections … ready for a bit of a grim night

Nov 4th, 2022 | By | Category: In Brief
“Homage to New York School (collage)” by Michael Seward, November 2022.

RANDALL WHITE, TORONTO. FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2022. Early this Sunday morning we’re off to the airport, travelling to Vancouver and then from there to Sacramento, California (and then from the airport there to the north end of Sacramento County by car), in time for the US midterm elections on Tuesday, November 8.

Catching Bill Maher on MSNBC the other night, talking about how the USA today was like the Titanic after it hit the iceberg, surprised me slightly. As best I can make out, he hasn’t quite talked this way on his own show, which my wife and I watch regularly.

I certainly share the view that these 2022 US midterms have potentially deep implications for the ongoing evolution of Democracy in America. Donald Trump’s unwillingness to do what the former president of Brazil has just done, in connection with his remarkably slender but clear loss in the recent Brazilian presidential election, has without doubt already seriously impaired the stable democratic political culture of the 21st century USA

Moreover, at the moment what does seem to be the (slight?) Republican edge in the latest midterm opinion polls — boosting the prospects of others who continue to support former president Trump’s continued blatant lying about the 2020 US presidential election — is grist for additional deep concern.

“The Old Goat” by Michael Seward, November 2022.

(My own point of departure for serious political thought here is a mid-1950s collection of essays aptly entitled The Democratic and the Authoritarian State. They were written by Franz Neumann, a progressive lawyer and political analyst who exchanged Hitler’s Germany for Franklin Roosevelt’s and then Harry Truman’s and Dwight Eisenhower’s America.)

At the same time, being who I am, I also want to express some kind of boldly positive feeling for the Democrats in both the Senate and the House in Washington — and in various state and even local races, from one corner to all others of the lower 48 and Alaska and Hawaii.

In particular my wife and I have five grandchildren born in the USA and currently resident in California. We are just Canadians ourselves but they are, or are becoming, dual citizens of Canada and the USA — a destiny I am bound to applaud! And we of course want the USA that is bound to play a big part in their futures to have some strong democratic future itself.

I certainly agree that there are many good reasons for scepticism about Democracy in America right now. And the current Republican Party in the USA has almost certainly reached its best-before date. It ultimately needs to be replaced by some new party on the democratic right or conservative side of the political spectrum, much as the Republican Party itself finally succeeded the old US Whig Party long ago in the 1850s.

“ Blessing in Disguise” by Michael Seward, October 2022.

Meanwhile, as things look right now, there is little to suggest that this kind of serious American democratic reform on the right will begin with the 2022 midterm elections. If anything, these midterms are starting to look like something that might, at best, finally prompt a much needed reorganization of the democratic left and the Democratic Party, on the progressive side of the spectrum. (That’s also almost what California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom seemed to be pointing towards last night on TV!)

And then there is the prospect that the ultimate political result of the November 8, 2022 midterms won’t be altogether or even essentially clear on the evening of November 8 and/or the morning of November 9. The Washington Post, eg, has recently pointed out that : “Wisconsin, Arizona and Pennsylvania won’t count mail-in ballots until after Election Day ; Georgia may go to a Dec. 6 runoff ; Alaska results won’t even be available until Nov. 23.” More generally : “Election night could become election week or election month.”

My final give-hope-a-chance, yes-we-can view for the moment is that any country whose diverse people voted twice in a row for President Barack Obama as recently as 2008 and 2012 — and then gave a plurality of the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 and a majority to Joe Biden in 2020 — still has some strong progressive democratic prospects for its long-term future.

Yet for the moment, like many others, I’m ready for a bit of a grim night for Democracy in America this coming Tuesday and immediately beyond. I am still not altogether convinced that it will be very grim for Democrats across the country. Hope does spring eternal in the human breast. But I am ready to face much less pleasant prospects, and hope that the side I believe in will at least take the lessons it needs for the longer future from the experience. Like the economy in many places, as far as Democracy in America goes things may get even worse than they are now before they really start to get better.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

One comment
Leave a comment »

  1. This is very helpful. Hope you post an analysis after at least almost all of the votes counted. I had read an analysis a couple of years ago that there was no evidence that the millions George Soros donated to various campaigns had any impact. This time I’m willing to suggest it did.

Leave Comment