THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2022
Where did the red wave go? The colloquy appears on the OPINION page of this morning's New York Times, under a ROUND TABLE heading.
The headline gives voice to a cheerful possibility. That headline posits this:
‘We May Have Reached the Limit of Crazy That Will Be Tolerated’
The quotation comes from Michigan legislator Mallory McMorrow, one of four participants in the roundtable discussion.
During the colloquy, Frank Bruni refers to the fact that Colorado crackpot Lauren Boebert is currently trailing, though by just a handful of votes, in her race for re-election to the House.
At that point, Bruni posits a possibility. McMorrow replies as shown:
Bruni: They have not yet called the Boebert race. But even if she somehow squeaks through, the narrowness of that victory remains a huge shock, no? And, I don’t know, an answer to how much crazy Americans will tolerate?...
McMorrow: Exactly. That race alone, to me, signals we may have reached the limit of crazy that will be tolerated, Madison Cawthorn’s earlier loss in the Republican primary being a sign of that.
Some proponents of The Crazy are being voted out of office. To the highly capable McMorrow, this signals that "we may have reached the limit of [The Crazy] that will be tolerated."
Needless to say, everything is possible! It's also true that our politics has been swimming in a sea of The Crazy over the past quite a few years.
It started with the idea that Bill and Hillary Clintons had murdered a wide array of people—a notion that was widely advanced by the Reverend Falwell, but also by Gennifer Flowers, who the lovesick boys of the mainstream press came to treat, by 1998, as an unassailable goddess of truth.
Twenty years later, with new technologies firmly in the saddle, The Crazy was much more widespread—and The Crazy was widely believed:
Barack Obama was born in Kenya! Hillary Clinton was trafficking children out of a D.C. pizza joint!
Also, the 2020 election was stolen! It was Antifa who raided the Capitol—and Paul Pelosi had been attacked as part of a lover's quarrel!
On a political basis, has The Crazy reached the point where it will no longer be tolerated? We can't answer that question, but we'll once again offer this point:
Tuesday's elections may well end with the GOP—the current source and enabler of The Crazy—in control of both the House and the Senate. If this is what deliverance looks like, our nation remains in a very large world of hurt.
We don't mean this as a criticism of Bruni or McMorrow. We do want to suggest an answer to a very hot current question:
Whatever happened to the red wave? Where did the red wave go?
Democratic candidates lost a lot of elections this week. Within our tribal redoubts, our corporate-paid tribunes have been loudly cheering the fact that we didn't lose even more.
Except from a "cable news" marketing standpoint, this strikes us as very unwise. But as to where that red wave went, we'll offer the following points:
We start in November 2008, when Barack Obama won his first White House election. By the standards of our electoral politics, turnout was fairly high.
According to the official count, 131 million people cast votes for president that year. Of that multitude, 122.5 million people cast votes for candidates in House races.
Two years later, a red wave plainly did occur—famously, "a shellacking." Democrats lost 63 House seats in the process—but here is one additional turnout figure:
Total votes cast in House elections:
2008: 122.5 million
2010: 87.1 million
Thirty-five million fewer people cast votes in House elections that year! Traditionally, this drop-off in turnout for midterm election helped explain where our recurrent "wave elections" came from.
In this morning's New York Times, Blake Hounsell explains the process. The headline on his report promises this:
Five Takeaways From a Red Wave That Didn’t Reach the Shore
One of Hounsell's takeaways is highly salient. Where did this year's "wave election" go? The gentleman offers this:
HOUNSELL (11/10/22): The biggest question hanging over Democrats all year was just who, exactly, would show up to vote for them. In a typical midterm election, like 2010 and 2014, turnout drops by about 20 percentage points from a presidential year.
But turnout smashed all records in [the midterm elections of] 2018, when voters repudiated Mr. Trump and Democrats retook the House. So far, preliminary research by the Democratic data firm Catalist suggests that this year looks much more like 2018 than it does the sleepy affairs that took place under former President Barack Obama. Many analysts now think the United States may have reached a new plateau of permanently high participation, stoked by each party’s fear of the other side.
Rave on! Almost surely—or at least possibly!—that passage explains where this year's "red wave" went. Pending numbers from this year's elections, the story would go like this:
By tradition, midterm elections were dominated by disgruntled voters from the party which didn't hold the White House.
Those disgruntled voters would angrily turn out to cast their disgruntled votes. Satisfied voters from the party which did hold the White House were far more inclined to stay home.
Angry losers would show up and vote. Satisfied minds would relax.
By now, that pattern may have disappeared. In this Age of The Crazy and Donald J. Trump—also, in this age of 24-hour propagandization—voters aligned with both major parties are on permanent high alert.
There are very few satisfied minds. Far fewer people stay home.
Many Dems stayed home in 2010. A red tsunami occurred.
We Dems are now on perpetual high alert. Many fewer Dems stayed home this year, and the rumored red wave disappeared.
Does this mean that the nation has reached "the limit of crazy that will be tolerated?" To some extent, it may! Under the 2010 paradigm, Boebert would have won re-election by now. This time around, she may lose.
That said, Marjorie Taylor Greene has won re-election. It looks like Kari Lake will end up winning in Arizona.
In New Hampshire, the guy who said that schools maintain litter boxes for kids who identify as cats got almost 45 percent of the vote! Anthropologically, it's amazing to see how wide a berth our species provides for those who spread The Crazy across the widely fruited plain.
As of last week, Kyrie Irving was being widely discussed on news and sports cable shows. What manner of crazy belief was involved in that complex, deeply tragic matter?
Tomorrow, we'll show you some of what Irving seemed to be recommending when he linked to that "documentary" film. The Crazy is deeply involved in this deeply tragic story—and then too, there are the peculiar things Irving said, four and five years ago, about the utterly pointless question of whether whether the earth is flat.
Have we started turning a corner in our national politics? It's rather clear that the current era of The Crazy leads straight back to Donald J. Trump.
Absent Trump, our recent epidemic of The Crazy would never have gotten so far. Meanwhile, everyone turned out this week—and when everyone did, it turned out that the party which has widely accepted The Crazy may still end up in charge.
That said, The Crazy is never that far away from the affairs of us "rational animals." It has always played a key role in human life. To some extent, that's even true over here, within our own infallible tribe.
Irving's link involves mountains of pain, historical and present-day. Our tribe is struggling, perhaps with little success, to know how to deal with such topics—with the questions which arise from the brutal history of our nation, our species, our world.
Tomorrow: Kyrie Irving's link—but also, the shape of the earth