Opinion; The Independentarian

U.S. Elections: Wave and Counter-Wave

The Midterm elections in the United States were extremely interesting. There was a huge Blue Wave of people coming out to vote against Trump’s party, but unlike most midterm elections, there was also a Counter-Wave of enthusiastic Republicans coming out to support Trump’s party (not to mention strategic voter disenfranchisement and Gerrymandering). The Wave and Counter-Wave made for record-high voter turnout, and the Red Counter-Wave did a great job of preventing a disaster and even gaining seats in the Senate, but the Senate was mostly the result of an extremely favorable mix of what states happened to have seats up for election.

The Blue Wave simply won more votes, enough to overcome the Counter-Wave by about 7% in the House, the only nationwide vote. That’s an amazing result for the opposition party in a midterm year with a great economy. It hasn’t happened since 1966 when Vietnam was heating up and the Democrats had just passed Civil Rights legislation losing a vast majority of the people who were actually allowed to vote in the South.

It would be interesting to see estimates of how many races the Democrats would have won without Trump’s Counter-Wave–if Republican turnout had been more consistent with typical in-party midterm election turnout.

With the President, Senate, and Supreme Court functioning as a Republican block, the election won’t make a huge difference in power right now, but it looks bad for Republicans in the future. Although Trump’s taken over the Republican Party, he has done nothing to increase the size of its coalition. If anything, he’s shrunk it, only making up for that by increasing enthusiasm among his coalition.

To win in 2020, he needs the nearly exact same thing to happen as 2016. A big enthusiasm gap in the right places so he can squeak out an electoral college win in pretty much the same states again.

Trump and the Republicans tenuous hold on a great deal of power rests on his ability to command disproportionate enthusiasm among a minority of voters and on the party’s ability to use voter disenfranchisement and Gerrymandering to translate those votes into election victories.

It seems far more likely that Democratic numbers and enthusiasm will continue to grow, and there will be a big change in 2020.

Will this create an opening for more progressive policies like Basic Income? I’ll discuss that in my next post.

About Karl Widerquist

Karl Widerquist has written 945 articles.

Karl Widerquist is an Associate Professor of political philosophy at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University, specializing in distributive justice—the ethics of who has what. Much of his work involves Universal Basic Income (UBI). He is a co-founder of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). He served as co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) for 7 years, and now serves as vice-chair. He was the Editor of the USBIG NewsFlash for 15 years and of the BIEN NewsFlash for 4 years. He is a cofounder of BIEN’s news website, Basic Income News, the main source of just-the-facts reporting on UBI worldwide. He is a cofounder and editor of the journal Basic Income Studies, the only academic journal devoted to research on UBI. Widerquist has published several books and many articles on UBI both in academic journals and in the popular media. He has appeared on or been quoted by many major media outlets, such as NPR’s On Point, NPR’s Marketplace, PRI’s the World, CNBC, Al-Jazeera, 538, Vice, Dissent, the New York Times, Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, which called him “a leader of the worldwide basic income movement.” Widerquist holds two doctorates—one in Political Theory form Oxford University (2006) and one in Economics from the City University of New York (1996). He has published seven books, including Prehistoric Myths in Modern Political Philosophy (Edinburgh University Press 2017, coauthored by Grant S. McCall) and Independence, Propertylessness, and Basic Income: A Theory of Freedom as the Power to Say No (Palgrave Macmillan 2013). He has published more than a twenty scholarly articles and book chapters. Most Karl Widerquist’s writing is available on his “Selected Works” website (works.bepress.com/widerquist/). More information about him is available on his BIEN profile and on Wikipedia. He writes the blog "the Indepentarian" for Basic Income News.

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The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

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