Progressive successes only prove there is no political centreby Diane Roberts / November 8, 2018 / Leave a comment
Photo: Hu Yousong/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images The inescapable truth revealed by the US midterm elections is that many in America share Donald Trump’s toxic white nationalism. In Georgia, the governor’s race hangs in the balance. Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate, has refused to concede, though she is around 70,000 votes behind Brian Kemp, the Republican. If neither wins over 50 per cent of the electorate, there will be a run-off. One problem is that the Georgia secretary of state, who oversees elections, has disallowed tens of thousands of voter registrations and perhaps many thousands of ballots, mostly cast by African Americans. Another problem? The secretary of state is Brian Kemp, the candidate. Fox, meet henhouse. Kemp is white; Abrams is black. The campaign was sometimes ugly, with Kemp trying to link Abrams with the “radical” Black Panthers, while a racist white militia put out a video vowing to “defend” Georgia from that “flag burning, gun grabbing, socialist bitch.” Now platoons of Democratic and Republican lawyers lurk in Georgia as the race hangs in the balance. Florida also seems to have botched a chance to make history by electing its first black governor. I say “seems to” because the race is so close, there’s a slight chance a recount will occur. Right now, it looks like Democrat Andrew Gillum narrowly lost to Ron DeSantis, a little-known former congressman ardently embraced by Trump. DeSantis did not hesitate to blow the racist dog whistle, with dismissive comments about the impact of slavery and his outrageous comment that voters should not “monkey this up” by electing Gillum. It didn’t help that DeSantis has long associated with white supremacists at yearly conferences where speaker after speaker insists white Christian America is under siege and that people of color will “destroy our culture.” Out and proud racist Representative Steve King of Iowa won re-election, despite palling around with Austrian neo-Nazis, worrying aloud that white women aren’t producing white babies fast enough to replenish American “civilization,” and lamenting multiculturalism. California congressman Duncan Hunter beat back his challenger, too, despite being recently indicted for misusing a quarter million dollars in campaign funds. Hunter smeared his opponent, a Palestinian-Mexican-American, calling him a “security risk.” Blaming brown and black people worked a treat, especially in the South. Ron DeSantis in Florida whipped up fear of an immigrant “invasion” and “socialist” policies that would supposedly turn Florida into Venezuela. The Texas uber-conservative Senator Ted Cruz beat progressive challenger Beto O’Rourke by warning that the Democrat wanted to ban barbecue and might turn Texas into California. The Golden State actually has a $6bn budget surplus, a booming economy and the financially fecund Silicon Valley, but seen from Texas, it’s indistinguishable from Venezuela. On the other hand, the Democrats took over of the House of Representatives, with committee chairmanships and subpoena power. Some high-profile Republican incumbents—Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California, and Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, to name a few—lost their seats. Colorado now has the nation’s first openly gay governor, while the first Muslims–both women—and the first Native Americans—also women—got elected to congress. But the biggest story of this midterm election isn’t the missed chances in the South or the progressive successes in the North and the West, but the way the election shows how America is utterly divided, not by region the way it once was, but within the same state, the same town, sometimes the same household. There’s the party of Trump, formerly known as Republicans, and the party of resistance to Trump: Democrats, Greens, the tiny number of socialists. The centre has not held, and will not hold for the foreseeable future. We are all living on the edges, trying not to fall off into the abyss.