If nothing else, Election Night should show Republicans why trying to burn down your neighbor’s house can ultimately lead to people roasting marshmallows on yours.
If you’ve ever talked with me in person, it doesn’t take you long to realize that I was raised by Southerners.
Now what do I mean by that? I mean that while I’m a Jersey Girl born and raised who proudly considers Philadelphia home, my parents are from a place called Paris, Kentucky. If you’ve ever heard Southerners speak, they speak in colloquialisms. And I admit that I do that.
Like, for example, I often tell people that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Or a hard head makes a soft behind. Or a new favorite, play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
It’s this last one that has been hanging out in my head since Tuesday’s midterm elections. On Tuesday, the Red Wave (or Red Tsunami, depends on who you talk to), that Republicans were hoping for didn’t materialize. And the reason for this is that back in 2010, the Republicans started playing a stupid game that led to their party snatched up by extremists.
In fact, by the time that you read this, we might have results that say that not only did the Democrats manage to hold on to the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, they also flipped several state legislatures and even took over the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
Now under conventional political wisdom, the party whose standard bearer occupies the White House usually gets the crap kicked out of it in the midterms. They lose everything from governor’s offices to the House and Senate and everything in between.
But on Tuesday, Democrats turned the Red Wave into a Red Splash. While Florida and Texas did, well, Florida and Texas things, Pennsylvania, which the Republicans hoped would be a pickup in the United States Senate, ended up going ocean blue. Josh Shapiro is the Governor-elect, current Lt. Gov. John Fetterman will be replacing outgoing Sen. Pat Toomey in the Senate, and history was made when voters made State Rep. Austin Davis the first Black person to be the Commonwealth’s Lieutenant Governor-elect.
Adding insult to injury, Dr. (and talk show host) Mehmet Oz and State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a man who hoped to control voting booths if elected and who sent busloads of his friends to the Jan. 6 insurrection were just two of the many people endorsed by former President Donald Trump that went down to defeat on Tuesday.
Now, you’re probably wondering where the connection to the 2010 Midterms that I mentioned earlier in this column is.
Well, it’s Trump. Or put more accurately, the events that led to Trump.
As the descendant of Southerners, I sometimes make up my own colloquialisms. One of the ones that I’ve come up with over the years is: If you’re going to burn down your neighbor’s house, make sure that you’ve tightened the can on the gas cap before you walk home.
Here’s what I mean by that. In 2010, Republicans were so invested in making the life of President Barack Obama a living hell that they went looking for ways to make him a one-term president, the country be damned.
The way that they decided on was embracing the far, far, right wing. You know, White supremacists. Christian Nationalists. People that were completely and totally freaked out by the 1960s.
The folks who believed, in the words of the late Gil-Scott Heron in his classic “B-Movie”, “Civil rights? Women’s rights? Gay rights? It’s all wrong!”
Republicans turned to this calvary of right-wingers looking for a way to stop this perception of freedom gone wild at long last. And it formed the Tea Party Patriots, a group of people who twisted the Constitution into a pretzel and force fed it to candidates who came to Washington on a search and destroy mission.
The Republicans won the House, former Congressman John Boehner became the speaker, and he realized almost immediately that controlling crazy, White nationalists was a lot harder than he thought.
By 2015, Boehner realized that his attempt to make his caucus act like it was interested in anything other than Obama’s birth certificate was going to be fruitless and he decided to retire from Congress. He was replaced by former Congressman Paul Ryan, who spoke the caucus’s language of tax cuts for the rich, restricting a woman’s right to choose, and art form level hypocrisy.
This was also the Congress that encouraged the only person I’ve ever known to lose money while running a casino, Donald Trump, to keep demanding to see Obama’s birth certificate. Trump, who made history before we all heard of him by losing one of the biggest Fair Housing lawsuits in American history, rode that momentum to the presidency.
And we all know what happened after that. Right down to the broken glass at the Capital on Jan. 6.
What Tuesday represented was that the Republicans didn’t tighten the cap on the gas can when they tried to burn down Barack Obama’s house. While they may have enjoyed the warmth that Trump and his MAGA partisans might have imparted during his presidency, Republicans finally realized on Tuesday that their house is, indeed, on fire.
And instead of looking for a water hose to help them put it out, America in general, and Gen-Z in particular, is standing around the house with marshmallows on a stick, roasting them and saying, “Weenies! Weenies! Bring on the weenies!”
(Come on! You had to see that episode of “Laverne and Shirley”!)
It’s going to be interesting to see how the Republicans negotiate this need for Trump and company to win elections while dealing with their destructive behavior.
I wish them luck with that.