Democracy was on the ballot. And attempts to end it were met with universal scorn.
So much #winning.
They all lost.
Every single fucking one.
Now that Kari Lake’s soft focus has faded into oblivion, the election denier sweep is complete.
From Stone Mountain to Mount Rainier. From Waukesha to Washoe. From Philly to Phoenix, pro-democracy forces were undeterred and undefeated.
There were seven Republican gubernatorial candidates who would not commit to certify Biden’s 2020 win. They went 0-7 in the midterm. (Or 0-8 if you toss in David Perdue’s pathetic primary performance against Brian Kemp.) Eight blue- or purple-state GOP secretary of state candidates would not commit to certifying the election if the Democrat won. They went 0-8 last Tuesday. (Or 0-10 if you count the Tina Peters faceplant in the Colorado GOP primary, and Saint Brad Raffensperger crushing all comers.) Two swing district election deniers successfully primaried Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, Joe Kent and John Gibbs. Both got schlonged.
And for good measure, “My Kevin” McCarthy is poised to either (1) suffer the most embarrassing defeat in the history of the House of Representatives, or (2) be saddled with the narrowest House majority in decades and be forced to grovel in front of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz if he wants to finally grab the gavel he sacrificed his dignity for.
There was indeed a bloodbath in 2022—just as Don Jr. predicted. But the bathers imbrued in crimson were his fellow coup conspirators. The taste of their defeat is making me feel downright vampiric, so I wanted us to take a moment to inject ourselves with the platelets of democratic victory, together.
As it turns out democracy was on the ballot this fall, in a big, big way. Joe Biden was right to use the final days of the campaign to call attention to the threat and the pundits were wrong to dismiss the salience of his case. (Again.)
The result in Arizona makes this abundantly clear. On the same ballot where a trio of creepy authoritarians were dispatched, Republican treasurer candidate Kimberly Yee is winning by double digits. In Maricopa County, Lake has fewer votes than the GOP county attorney candidate, the type of race that typically has an undervote. And she ran seven or more points behind the Republicans running for House of Representatives in key swing districts. A similar, or even greater gap existed for election deniers in Ohio, New Hampshire, and elsewhere.
It’s true that democracy isn’t all that was on the ballot. Politics is complicated and there are always lots of factors that impact the results both substantively and stylistically. Political success (and defeat) have many fathers, no matter how much some wish they could be an orphan. Those of us in the business can, at times, get too caught up in the game or the optics when assessing the state of play. (Yours truly: Guilty. Guilty!)
But this is not a moment for us to get lost in the navel gazing #analysis of it all. The victories in 2022 were much, much more meaningful than all of that silliness.
Together, we galvanized a unified defense of our system of government, of our very way of life, in the face of a real threat. Democrats, independents, and yes, Republicans, too.
While that threat has not totally disappeared, as a result of those efforts, it has been dramatically weakened in a history-altering manner.
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We’ll never have to find out exactly how dire the outcome was that we averted. We won’t have to find out if Kari Lake or Doug Mastriano would’ve been able to successfully deliver the electoral votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania to a defeated Donald Trump in 2024. Which is a good thing—a great thing. Except . . .
This is the dilemma democracy’s firefighters face. Lose and you have to watch self-government get burned to the ground. Stamp out the flames—and then you get lectured about how your warnings were too dire, too hysterical, see everything worked out—by the same people who thought the Capitol could never be stormed right up until the insurrectionists stormed it.
So be it. The illiberal threat that was posed was real. Significant elements of one major party were prepared to bring our democratic experiment to an end in order to appease the one bad man-baby deranged enough to demand it. And these people weren’t even bothering to hide their intentions.
Now we don’t have to find out what their efforts would’ve amounted to. We don’t have to cross our fingers and hope that some guardrails, somewhere, will hold.
All because the American people didn’t take kindly to their traitorous ambitions and rejected every single motherfucker who played along.
What a country.
That in itself is something to revel in today. It’s a spirit to foster as the fight continues. And it will have to continue, at least for a little while longer. Until the people and institutions which have embraced illiberalism disavow it unequivocally.
“The spirit that prevails among men of all degrees, all ages, and sexes is the spirit of liberty,” Abigail Adams wrote after the Battles of Lexington and Concord. In the same letter she quoted a bit from The Conspiracy of Kings, a poem by diplomat Joel Barlow. Americans would not “shrink unnerved before a tyrant’s face, but meet this louring insolence with scorn,” she declared.
In 2022, be that face sepia and out of focus, or painted orange, a scornful resistance rose to the moment and continued in this great American tradition of refusing to shrink before aspiring tyrants.
It was a glorious and satisfying victory.
God bless all who were a part of it.
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