2018 Election: A Wave of Resistance
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, just turned 29 in October, making her the youngest person ever elected to Congress. In the June primaries she won over the Democrat establishment’s favorite Rep. Joseph Crowley. She then went on to defeat Republican Anthony Pappas on November 6 in New York’s 14th Congressional district, which includes Queens and the Bronx.
“This is what is possible when every day people come together in the collective realization that all our actions, no matter how small or large, are powerful, worthwhile and capable of lasting change,”
Ocasio-Cortez’ progressive agenda includes, tuition free college and university; to abolish ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement); “Medicare for All,” in which a government insurer would guarantee health insurance for all state residents; and a Universal “jobs guarantee,” in which the federal government would insure living wage employment for every American.
In the Chicago suburbs, another newcomer won a seat once held by a Speaker of the House. Lauren Underwood beat incumbent Randy Hultgren in the Fourteenth District of Illinois, the district once represented by disgraced former House Speaker Dennis Hastert. Underwood, a nurse, will be the first woman and the first African-American to represent the district. She won by stressing her support for health care and her opponent’s opposition to expanding it.
The 2018 election campaign made what is good in America better and what’s bad in America worse. The vicious, racist demagoguery of the Trump forces—particularly the slander against immigrants—had an impact. At the same time, the strong support given to newcomers like McBath and Underwood and to leaders like Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, and Beto O’Rourke proves that many voters are willing to cross ethnic and gender lines to vote for candidates who campaign on the issues.
Voters in Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah approved ballot initiatives to expand Medicaid. Across the country, voters decisively rejected candidates with a track record of opposition to the Affordable Care Act, clearly viewing attacks on the ACA as a grave threat to their well-being.
The election results show that the majority of voters are deeply worried about the attacks on democracy and decency. Despite efforts to suppress the vote, voters turned out at rates not seen in a mid-term election in half a century. Turn-out boomed among women, Latinos, and young people.
The real “wave” was a wave of resistance—to the status quo. It was an expression of the basic morality of the American people and a rejection of racism and xenophobia. This outrage isn’t going away. While not every progressive candidate or ballot measure succeeded, the battle lines have now been drawn. The fight for a new America—for universal health care, for quality public education, for a clean environment, for affordable housing, for immigrant rights—won’t grind to a halt once all the votes have been counted. That struggle will continue—not just in the electoral arena, but throughout society.
We have to build on the unity that was forged in the 2018 election campaign. Just as armies sometimes use the tactic of attacking “wave upon wave,” we have to be ready for new offensives. We are not simply fighting one bad man; we are fighting a bad system. We have to prepare for a protracted struggle by the majority of people to transform this country into the new America it could be.