I held my breath election night as the results started pouring in. I can’t lie, I was afraid U.S. voters would make the grave mistake of allowing the Republicans to be in complete control. I don’t agree with having a two-party system and I don’t identify as a Democrat myself, but Americans have been forced to pick the lesser of two evils since the time of our Founding Fathers.
What we got during the 2018 midterm elections was a divided Congress, with the House turning blue and the Senate remaining red.
In the 2016 presidential election, despite Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote, Donald Trump won — running on a platform of hate for marginalized groups such as people of color, women, immigrants, and those in the LGBTQ community. The result was shocking because many people didn’t think Americans would be that ignorant, but Trump emboldened people who were already racist and prejudice. That type of hate was always there in America, Trump just awakened it.
After Trump’s election, we’ve seen immigrant families being ripped apart, heightened hate crimes, women coming forward in the #MeToo movement and transgender folks having their identities erased. These last two years made me so scared for the midterm results. I wondered — would people truly not care what has happened during this administration?
Tuesday’s results showed not only how divided our nation is, but that people are fed up with the current administration.
Midterm elections typically yield low voter turnouts, but it seems that the American people are finally waking up. That energy needs to be kept up even after the Trump administration has come and gone. CNN estimates that 113 million votes were cast in these midterms, which would make this the highest level of voter engagement since 1964. That’s 54 years.
Younger people, ages 18-24, also showed out during this election in historical numbers to vote Democrat. Us young people are casting our votes to let people know that we won’t allow our generation, or future generations, to live under an oppressive government that spews hateful rhetoric.
I felt like I lost faith in our country back in 2016, the very first election I could vote in. While the future seems bleak at times, I find a glimmer of hope when I see how far we continue to come even after we stumble. The midterm elections brought a number of “firsts” in Congress — more than 100 women were elected to Congress.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Michigan and Minnesota, respectively, both became the first Muslim women elected to Congress.
Rep. Sylvia Garcia and Rep. Veronica Escobar became the first Hispanic women to be elected to Congress in Texas.
New York’s Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, became the youngest woman elected to Congress.
Letitia James became New York’s first black woman elected as attorney general.
D-Jared Polis became Colorado’s first openly gay governor.
D-Sharice Davids and D-Deb Haaland became the first Native American women elected to Congress. Davids is an ex-MMA fighter and lesbian, making her the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from Kansas.
The list goes on and while I can’t believe we are still having to say “the first” in reference to anyone in Congress, because it should have been diverse to begin with, I am truly proud of the work these candidates put in to get elected and their constituents who voted and lobbied for them.
However, the blue wave isn’t going to be enough. Democrats don’t have control over the Senate, which arguably has more power since it’s smaller and has more responsibility in terms of interaction with the president. For example, it was the Senate who gave Brett Kavanaugh the votes that led him to the Supreme Court — not the House.
The divided Congress will butt heads over bills and it’s going to get messy. Furthermore, other states fell behind in the blue wave. Florida, Georgia and Maryland failed to elect black governors. While it’s not about electing people based on their identity, it’s about making our government reflect their constituents. It’s about pushing out old, white, straight men who are tasked with making decisions for minorities.
It’s time for people in America to understand we can’t sit idly by and that we can make change happen through voting, activism and education.
The race to the Presidential election in 2020 is coming fast, and the results of the midterm election are going to give Trump a wake up call. He’s going to have to work with a divided Congress and deal with the reality that the American people aren’t going to take his immature, unqualified, deplorable actions anymore. Let’s continue to show Trump that the American people are a force to be reckoned with and that he doesn’t’ stand a chance in 2020.