By Tom Cardella
A “Wave Election?” Uncle Nunzi asks. “What the hell is that?” Uncle claims that the last wave he saw around here was the pompadour I wore when I was 10 years old.
Prior to last Tuesday’s election, experts were split on whether or not a blue “wave” was coming. Uncle’s confusion about what constitutes a wave election is understandable. I’ve been following elections for a very long time. Since 1948, when Harry Truman upset Tom Dewey. But I’d never heard the term “wave election” until recently. I’d also never heard of Democrats being “blue” and Republicans being “red.” The Republicans of my adolescence was so rabidly anti-communist that red was the last color they would wear. The Cincinnati Reds changed their name to “Redlegs.”
When Dwight Eisenhower creamed Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956, the term was “landslide.” At some point an oceanographer must’ve been influential enough to get the term changed to “wave.”
In keeping with the idea that we’re all members of a political team these days, the colors red and blue are now associated with our two major political parties. Some folks even dressed up in the color of their favorite party/team when they went to the polls last Tuesday. Uncle told me that his friend Luigi — a devoted Republican — dressed in red when he showed up at the Barry Playground to vote. “He looked like a Jersey tomato,” is the way Uncle described Luigi. Uncle claims that Luigi cheats at cards, but then solemnly proclaims that he’s not trying to claim that ALL Republicans are cheats.
Maybe cheating is too harsh. But what do you call a minority party that clings to power by trying to keep people from voting? At a time when public service announcements implore folks to vote, Republicans pray for rain in the hope that the turnout is low. If all the Republicans did was pray that fewer Americans voted, you could forgive them. Hell, I’d pay to see Donald Trump do a rain dance in the Rose Garden. But pious as they might claim to be, Republicans in positions of power are not ready to rely on the power of prayer alone.
The whole idea behind Voter ID laws is to keep the vote down among groups that largely vote Democratic. While it promotes the idea that evil hordes of migrants are heading this way to destroy America, the Republican Party also embraces the mantra “The fewer people vote, the better for us.” And they do what they can to make sure that happens. Republicans are opposed to bureaucracy, except when it comes to voting. Making it tougher to vote has become an axiom of the GOP. I DO think that the requirement to explain the meaning of the lyrics to A WHITER SHADE OF PALE is a bit too much.
With the help of rightwing media outlets such as FOX NEWS and BREITBART, Republicans work to persuade their flock that Democrats only win elections through the votes of dead folks. So, it’s not strange, is it, that the party that benefits from voter-suppression tactics in the last two decades have been the Republicans? I’m not only referring to Russia’s attempt in 2016 to throw the vote to Trump. If you’re old enough to remember “dangling chads” than you remember how Florida screwed Al Gore out of the presidency in 2000 with the help of the Supreme Court. In both the 2000 and 2016 elections, the Democrat won the popular vote but lost the White House.
Am I whining? Yes. But it’s a reasonable whine. America is the only democracy that uses something as arcane as the electoral college to elect a president. Conservatives can complain all they want about liberal California. But something’s crazy when a state such as North Dakota gets the same number of senators as California. So help me Carson Wentz.
The Republican governors and state legislatures are also in cahoots to maintain their power by using a practice known as “gerrymandering.” Through gerrymandering, today’s Republican Party manipulates the boundaries on electoral maps to favor their own party. Note: Democrats do the same thing, but at least in their case they have the popular vote on their side. The reason your voting district resembles the bent little finger on my left hand? Gerrymandering.
For example, there’s the Georgia Governor’s race between incumbent Republican Brian Kemp and Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams. At the time of this writing, Kemp had not reached 51 percent of the vote. If that vote holds as is, state law requires a runoff election between Kemp and Abrams in December. It just so happens that Kemp is also the Secretary of the State of Georgia. (Don’t ask). As such, Kemp would be in charge of that runoff election. Kemp, remember, is the same guy who tried everything from voter suppression to claiming without evidence that Democrats had hacked into the state’s voting machines. He called for a special investigation into his rivals the night before the election. Putting Kemp in charge of ensuring a fair runoff election is like putting a fox in charge of guarding Purdue’s chicken coops.
So, there was no blue wave election last Tuesday. Just a small wave. Call it a “wave train,” according to my internet search. Liberals may be disappointed. Disappointment post-Obama is in our DNA. But winning the House and a bunch of governorships is no consolation prize as Donald Trump and his fans are going to discover.
Even a wave train is a start.