The Tulane Hullabaloo

Blue ripple leaves both parties in a purple haze

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Political meteorologists spent months preparing the country for a blue wave, even suggesting that a “tsunami” was on the horizon. But on Tuesday, when the election finally came, the blue wave rolled in softly.

In the wake of the blue ripple, our nation is struggling to discern a deeper meaning from the outcome of the midterm elections. These results reinforced a crisis of identity on both parties, which means a haze of political confusion will hang over the country for months to come, if not years.  

Since the election of 2016, Democrats have struggled to create a unified party vision. Similarly, the Republicans have spent the last two years grappling with Trump’s cultural insurgency, and it remains unclear what it will mean to be Republican in the near future.

Decisive results in the midterm election could have gifted both parties a path forward, but, a scattered smattering of wins and losses on both sides have left the future of both parties unclear.

It may sound insignificant that we didn’t learn much from our midterm elections, but, this information gap will have substantial influence on the elections to come.

Geography in the midterm elections

After Trump’s election in 2016, coastal Democrats have recognized the necessity of building ties to the center of the country, but, they haven’t yet agreed on which parts of the country to reach out to, or how to go about rebuilding their base.

Though the Democrats succeeded in reclaiming the House of Representatives, their district-level victories were dispersed across the entire country, from Texas’s 7th district to New York’s 19th. The local, isolated nature the Democrats’ victories make it extremely difficult to draw any actionable information from their success.

Gubernatorial and senatorial elections produced similarly obscure results. Going into the election, Democratic leaders placed a spotlight on elections in Georgia and Texas, both of which failed to produce Democratic victories. Simultaneously, the Democrats enjoyed surprising victories in often-forgotten states like Kansas and Oklahoma.

The Republicans weren’t immune to geographic concerns. While they were able to win new Senate seats in pro-Trump states like Missouri, many conventionally Republican states experienced unusually competitive races. Texas was a key example: though Sen. Ted Cruz ultimately kept his seat, his democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke was able to execute the largest grassroots political campaign in American history.

For both parties, regional devotions have become flexible, and the potential for political realignment is considerable in the next round of elections.

Ideology in the midterm elections

Implicitly, concerns about political geography are tied to concerns about partisan ideology. Both parties will adapt their platforms depending on the demographics of the states they prioritize. When the Democrats nationally honed in on Georgia and Texas, they deliberately put a spotlight on Beto O’Rourke and Stacey Abrams, Georgia House Minority Leader as potential thought-leaders for the party.

Just two days ago Abrams and Beto were focal points of the Democratic vision for the future. Blue pundits had painted a romantic image of a democratic South, an idea which captured the interest of Americans across the entire country. The vision was righteous and imagined a scenario where the Democrats converted red states in a rejection of Trump and his administration.

So, when both Abrams and Beto failed to win their respective races, the Democrats’ vision deflated. These rising stars have likely lost their luster on the national stage, leaving the Democrats without any clear thought leaders from the middle states.

Put simply, the Democrats emerged from midterms just as lost as they entered, unified only by a shared rejection of the Republicans.

The Republicans were able to gain a bit more information about the future of their party, but the implications are severe. Notably, many candidates were carried to success after being publicly endorsed by Trump. Though many Republicans and moderates continue to vocally reject this administration, the success of Trump-supported candidates has persuaded many that Trump’s vision will outlast his administration; some now believe Trump’s vision could become the party’s ideology for decades to come.

This reignited the debate within the Republican party: how far can they drift towards Trump before they lose their core supporters? The path forward remains disparate.

Conclusion

It’s difficult to characterize the confusion our country is currently enduring, but it’s imperative that we appreciate how intensely lost our political identities have become. To some extent, this moment is valuable. It’s incredibly rare that our leaders are so open to change, so flexible in their stances.

But at the same time, we’ve never been more vulnerable to corruption and radicalization. Now more than ever, we each need to actively participate in the political process, to keep an eye on our leaders and actively engage with our representatives. If we let our confusion give way to apathy, the consequences will be severe.

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
Blue ripple leaves both parties in a purple haze