The Department of Political Science hosted an event recapping the midterm elections with four professors: Claire Wofford, Gibbs Knotts, LaTasha Chaffin DeHaan and Karyn Amira.
Dr. Amira, whose focus is in polarization of the public, compared the 2018 midterms to 2012 in terms of caucuses. A caucus is a smaller movement or group inside of a party meeting to persuade their larger party to move into a certain direction. The Tea Party (a caucus) gained a lot of ground in 2012 for limited government and free markets while several progressive caucuses were more dispersed and could cooperate in 2018 to gain influence in congress.
Dr Wofford focused on the “pink” wave in the elections. She said women in politics are a bipartisan trend. Many women participated in both parties either as candidates or voters. A record breaking number of women became elected officials representing approximately 27.6% of Congress. She also described the widening gender gap, the difference between the percentage of men and women who support candidate/party X.
Dr. Knotts described voter turnout and focused on SC-1. This district includes Southern coast and Charleston. Joe Cunningham (D) won, the first time Democrats have won since 1981. Turnout increased nationwide by 10% and SC also increased by the same amount.
Dr. Dehann focused on a large number of topics, but focused on minority groups and the largest voter issue of healthcare which polled at 41%. Healthcare issues are mainly pre-existing condition coverage, Obamacare and medicare expansion.
The election showed a fractured nation and a referendum on Trump. I believe if the Senate was not a historically difficult senate map the blue wave would have been much stronger.
Now I would like to focus on Dr. Wofford’s points about women. First, women in Congress is a changing demographic for the better. We should remove all arbitrary barriers to entry for any candidate. According to Dr. Wofford, women win just as often as men, therefore women can succeed. However, I caution that we should not elect candidates solely based on immutable characteristics such as race and sex. It’s imperative we should look to their qualifications and their individual experiences.
For example, I fear Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is popular from her charisma and youth rather than experience and knowledge. We need more experienced (not just politically experienced) senators like Amy Klobuchar than Cortez.
What do the elections mean for Trump? Since Democrats control the house, they are in a position to thwart Trump’s agenda and possibly bring impeachment charges against him. Democrats should not do this. They absolutely should, however, subpoena his tax returns. Impeachment and overreaching investigations will fracture the country further. It’s very unlikely impeachment would convict him in the Senate and would simply create more chaos than is worth having. Barring no indictments from Mueller or high crimes from Trump, it will be much more tenable for the majority of the country if Democrats wait until 2020 and have a fair election to remove him.
Just because Democrats can do something does not mean they should.