Are you sick of it? Sick of the lies? Sick of the absence of any sense of decency (at long last)? Sick of the overt and covert racism? Sick of the sucking up to the world’s worst despots? Sick of the Republican sycophants who have thrown their lot in with a man who brags about sexually assaulting women, who mocks and demeans everyone from military heroes to the least among us, and who lies, lies, lies?
Well, I want to suggest two very hopeful signs that there might be light at the end of the proverbial tunnel (if we can avoid a cave-in).
First, there is the Blue Wave that poured into Congress following the election in November. At least 40 – and, depending on what happens in North Carolina, 41 – new Democrats were elected, taking control of the House of Representatives away from Republicans. This victory not only provides the first real oversight and potential brake on the tantrum-throwing President having his way, it portends a much greater victory in 2020.
Here is the evidence:
In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular election by nearly 3 million votes. While that is a substantial margin, it fell short of an electoral college win that our perverted, undemocratic system requires. But here’s the good news: in the election of 2018, nearly 9 million more votes were cast by Democrats nationwide than by Republicans. In other words, after two years of the Bully-in-Chief, the margin for Democrats was three times greater than it had been in the previous election. With the President governing exclusively on behalf of his minority base, it is hard to imagine that the gap between Democrats and Republicans won’t grow even larger in the coming two years.
But wait, there’s more! And, believe it or not, it is to be found in the strange state of Florida.
There, in 2018, nearly 65% of the electorate opted to restore voting rights to previously incarcerated felons who had been barred from voting. They number between 1.4 and 1.7 million potential new voters – almost all of them African-American.
Assuming, as I do, that most of them will vote Democratic (Hillary won 88% of the Black vote in 2016), Florida may soon find itself a reliably Democratic state. If just half of the lower estimate of those eligible to have their voting rights restored do so, that would add 700,000 voters to the rolls. Further assuming conservatively, as I do, that 80% of those newly-enfranchised voters are Democrats, it means that more than half a million new Democratic voters will cast their ballots in Florida in 2020.
If these voters had been allowed to vote in 2000, George Bush’s 537 vote margin of victory over Al Gore would, instead, have netted Gore the state’s 29 electoral votes, and he would have been elected President. The Iraq War would never have happened; ISIS would never have been able to gain a toe-hold there; and we would not be where we are today.
In 2004, Bush won 381,000 more votes in Florida than John Kerry. Had the disenfranchised been allowed to vote, as they will in the next election, Kerry would have carried Florida, and in so doing reversed the final outcome, making him President.
Obama carried Florida both in 2008 and 2012, but his margin of victory there would have been substantially greater had this population been allowed to cast their ballots.
In the presidential election of 2016, Trump beat Hillary in Florida by 113,000 votes. Had the more than half a million Democrats about to regain their democratic right to vote been allowed to do so in that election, we would now have the first woman to be elected President in this nation’s nearly 250-year history, instead of the embarrassment that now occupies the White House.
It’s just math, folks, but it’s pretty convincing math. Amendment 4, which will restore these voting rights in Florida, passed in 61 of that state’s 67 counties, and the six tiny counties that voted to defeat the Amendment are all on or close to the borders of Georgia and Alabama. In the largest counties, like Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, more than twice as many voters approved the restoration of voting rights than disapproved (526,000 yes to 244,000 no in Miami-Dade; 380,000 yes to 181,000 no in Palm Beach).
I am no Pollyanna, but these numbers mean something. With 9 million more votes cast for Democrats than Republicans in 2018, and with Florida now far more likely to see a victory for Democrats in upcoming elections, I can’t help but see a glimmer of light at the end of the dark and dangerous tunnel we are now passing through.
Not every cloud has a silver lining, but some do. With hope that what we value about our country survives the next two years (and that I am not grasping at straws), we might yet be able to celebrate a new dawn emerging from these, our darkest hours.