Have you ever seen a football player sprinting towards the endzone, close to scoring a touchdown, who then starts high-stepping and showboating before actually crossing the goal line? Far too often, that player who started his premature celebration ends up getting caught from behind, fumbling the ball or tripping over the turf monster and falling flat on his face, losing his opportunity to move his team closer to victory.
That’s the Democrats right now, in the wake of the 2022 midterm elections. Celebrating like some damn fools, thinking they have it made and about to score the game-winning touchdown. Even before they actually take care of business, they start chillin’ and high-stepping and acting as if victory is assured.
Democrats are always ready to rest on their laurels and start partying after any little piece of “victory” they achieve, breaking out their Deion Sanders high-step, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson funky chicken or Jamal Anderson Dirty Bird before the points are even on the board.
Dems, for the love of God, slow your roll!
THE RED WAVE THAT WASN’T
If you haven’t heard, all the talk on those cable news stations Dems religiously watch, and all the posts on those social media sites progressives frequent are about the “Red Wave” that wasn’t. Democrats are engaging in orgasmic oratories about how folk underestimated President Joe Biden, underestimated the nuanced complexity and intelligence of voters, over-estimated the accuracy of election polls, and how the American voters, including some GOP voters, chose democracy over demagoguery.
CNN and MSNBC can’t shut up about what they’re calling the “end of Trump” and how so many Republican voters said with their votes, “GOP, we don’t want that kind of crazy, insurrectionist-loving, election-denying, Qanon-adhering nutjobs representing us. We want inflation handled, gas prices lowered, women’s rights protected and democracy secured.” They are literally delivering Trump’s eulogy and the final rites to all his acolytes.
Let me say this again. Especially since it seems no one else on the planet is saying it: Dems, slow your roll.
REMEMBER THAT “POST-RACIAL” SOCIETY
Y’all sound like those same political pundits and social commentators who declared that America had officially become a “post-racial society” after Barack Obama won the White House in 2008. Lord have mercy. How long did that chorus last? A year? A couple of months? I don’t remember exactly. But what I do remember exactly is, while Dems were so quick to celebrate that Obama presidency, which apparently is a habit encoded in Democrat DNA, many were absolutely blindsided by the tsunami of hate and terrorism that ensued, unleashed by adherents to the myth of white supremacy.
Dems were frolicking hand-in-hand, kumbaya-style, while folk who lost their racist-ass minds at the thought of a Black man as Commander-in-Chief and a Black family occupying the White House, organized to “take back” what they felt undeserving, un-American, non-citizen Blackfolk had stolen—“their” country.
Even after the Republican icon “Moscow” Mitch McConnell said the GOP’s entire agenda and platform was to make President Obama a one-term president, Dems were basking in the afterglow of retaking the White House—and with a brother, at that. The GOP’s one-term Obama presidency didn’t work. But it almost kinda did. Why? Because Dems always seem to think winning the battle is the same thing as winning the war.
THE OBAMA BLOWBACK
While Dems were throwing victory parties, and not absolutely fighting for those issues that got Obama elected in the first place, they blew their chance to truly implement a full slate of change we could believe in. And while Dems partied, they were absolutely obliterated in the midterms. Now I’m the first person to read the long list of President Obama’s accomplishments to those who say he didn’t do jack for Blackfolk. But yo, he spent many of those eight years as a lame-duck president because Dems rushed headfirst into patting themselves on the back for “victory” while the other side organized and then acted to take back all the gains and more won by that victory.
And as Dems in 2022 seem to forget, one thing President Obama absolutely did accomplish in a big way was inspiring the “resurrection” of racist, white “supremacist” hate and organizing. Y’all remember. The number of death threats to President Obama and family set records. The number of hate crimes against Blacks and other traditional Democrat voters skyrocketed. The GOP took control of Congress. They bum-rushed voting rights by lynching preclearance, laying the groundwork for 1950s and 1960s levels of voter suppression once again made legal.
They blocked Obama from doing what every other president in the history of American presidents was able to do: name a US Supreme Court Justice when the opportunity arose. Hell, the membership numbers of racist hate groups shot up like never before… only to be surpassed by the increase in numbers under Trump, their white nationalist messiah.
And it was that momentum of madness that set the stage for the demagogue, tyrant, fascist, intellectually retarded, morally bankrupt, former reality TV person, dictator Trump to take the White House.
Because Dems were so busy patting each other on the back for their victory in the battle of the 2008 presidency that they forgot, this is a war. And in a war, with battles, you win some and you lose some. But it is a fatal mistake to think that any one victory in any one battle guarantees victory in the war, or that it signals that the war is over. Because yo, it’s not. Not by a long shot.
MORE MADNESS TO COME
So, while every Democrat and they mamma are walking around here cheering on a return to normalcy because the fascist Red Wave that would have set the scene for Trump to slide back into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue whether the votes dictated it or not, didn’t go down as most feared, those folk who cheered on the Jan. 6 insurrection, cheered on the overthrow of democracy, cheered on voter suppression, cheered on Trump’s collusion with Russia, cheered on the murder attempt on Paul Pelosi, cheered on US Capitol rioters as they sought to lynch all who disagreed with them… those folk are still in our midst. And they voted strong. They just came up a little short.
The Blue Wave that Dems say saved the day, did so only barely. By the skin of their teeth. And by Republicans who were running for office being so cocky that they said the quiet parts out loud (i.e. pushing to ban abortion on the federal level; pushing to end social security, etc), instead of keeping their plans to themselves.
In the runup to the November midterms, one GOP member even said, after this midterm election no Republican will ever lose again. He flat-out stated that the fix was in. Until it wasn’t.
WE DODGED A BULLET, BUT MORE COMING
The votes didn’t fall their way. And by “their” way, I mean the fascists. But the Democrats maintaining their razor-thin edge in the US Senate is not comparable to the Japanese surrender of WWII. It wasn’t the fall of the Third Reich. It was one victory in one battle in the ongoing war for the soul of the nation.
We won a battle. We dodged a bullet. But you best believe, there are more battles and more bullets coming.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but while progressives were celebrating national victories (and is it really a victory when the election is “democracy vs fascism” and democracy wins by only a handful of votes?), Texas showed the racists how it’s done. And Florida too. So, you best believe other Red states will be relying on their playbooks moving forward.
TEXAS, OH TEXAS
And that playbook was on full display in the Lone Star State, and more specifically in cities and counties with large Black populations, i.e. Houston/Harris County, Fort Bend County, Beaumont, etc.
In those places, countless polling locations that were supposed to open at 7am didn’t open until 11:30am. That’s a four-hour-plus delay. It is incalculable the number of people who didn’t vote because of that. By law, voters’ jobs had to give them an hour to vote, not counting their lunch break. But lunch break plus that voting time, for many employees, equals two hours. Those polling places were inoperable for over four, almost five hours.
And then, the Texas Organizing Project went to court to get the polling places in Harris County to stay open for just one extra hour. But after it was approved, the living, breathing federal indictment known as Ken Paxton, who is ironically the state’s top law enforcement officer as Attorney General, squashed that. Paxton, along with the Texas supreme court stopped the extra hour voting and ordered any extra hour votes that may have slipped through the cracks to be thrown out. So, essentially, the Jan. 6 insurrection was alive and well in Texas, as countless Black votes weren’t counted.
But because everything is bigger in Texas, the madness didn’t stop there. The GOP had the audacity to add insult to injury by filing a lawsuit against Harris County elections, and actually citing those same examples of late-opening polling places as reasons to challenge local election results.
I don’t know if you notice what was just described, but predominantly Black and Brown voters were blocked from having full access to voting hours. Then the GOP, who you already know benefitted from that, are using their own suppressive efforts as evidence everything election-related in very Blue Harris County needs to be thrown out. GOP superstar Gov. Greg Abbott is calling for the Texas AG’s Office, the Texas Secretary of State and the Texas Rangers (the same group that has a long legacy of heinous crimes against Texans of color. Look it up.) to investigate the counties where Democrats showed up and showed out.
Why? Because in spite of GOP-led voter suppression, gerrymandering, voter intimidation, votes being thrown out, etc., the Dems still earned key victories in places where the GOP believed the Red Wave would deliver the biggest death blows to progressives, re: the Harris County judgeship and those many Democrat judges (all those sisters who made national news in 2018) that GOP funders spent millions of dollars trying to oust. Those hyper-conservative funders want a return on their investment. Hence, Abbott and crew have jumped on the attack.
Also in Texas, the highly popular Democrat Governor candidate Beto O’Rourke lost to Abbott. Just as the political superstar Stacey Abrams lost in Georgia. Which brings me to my last reasons why Dems need to chill on their victory party.
DEMOCRATS, GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER
The Red Wave wanna-bees are not going anywhere. They will fight using every dirty trick in the book until there’s no life left in their already soulless bodies. And quiet as it’s kept, the national democratic victories actually could have and should have been greater. But those victories won masked ongoing problems with the party prone to party too soon.
With the Red Wave turned tepid for the time being, few people are pointing out that Dems constantly do their base dirty. Neither Abrams nor O’Rourke had to lose their races. But one of the reasons they did is because the Dems still take their base for granted and refuse to invest in Black media, Black community engagement and outreach as if America’s democracy depends on it.
The irony here is that Blackfolk, especially Black women, are always coming to the rescue, saving democracy not only for Blackfolk but for all folk. Yet, even with this reality, and even with the number of people who don’t vote still outnumbering those who do (by a lot), the dollars and energy allocated to energizing this critical demographic are still a last-minute, last few days of the election afterthought.
Dems are still trying to convince Trump voters to leave the dumb side. And my fear is Dem strategists will take this last election as proof of the correctness of their strategy rather than recognizing that any Dem midterm victories were because certain specific issues made the few Republicans who did vote to save abortion rights to vote that way.
But dig this, those pro-choice GOP voters still overwhelmingly voted for election deniers, and vote suppressers and Jan 6 insurrectionists, even as they voted to protect women’s rights. So, it wasn’t the Dem strategy of trying to flip voters, it was issues that brought out those votes, and brought out Dems, specifically Black people, more specifically Black women, to do what they do and save the nation.
That wave of white women being so outdone about having their right to have agency over their bodies taken away that they would leave their Handmaid Tales GOP bosses behind, didn’t come to fruition. Even though when the SCOTUS overturned Roe v Wade and we saw that parade of GOP white women being interviewed saying enough is enough and that they were through with being oppressed by white male patriarchy… them hoes fell right back in line as if they were members of Pimp Don Juan’s stable.
GEORGIA ON MY MIND
Yet and still, these Dems wanna celebrate like they won the World Series. And proof of this is that with the Senate count currently standing at 50 for the Dems and 49 for the GOP, folk are saying Georgia’s Warnock race is no longer all that important.
Not all that important? That sounds like some Democrats drunk on that victory kool-aid.
Tell Blackfolk in Georgia whose Nov. 2020 votes helped swing the election Biden’s way that a Warnock re-election isn’t all that important. Tell those sisters and brothers all across the Peachtree State who have felt the brunt of one of the most vicious voter suppression movements in the country thanks to their governor that it really doesn’t matter if they’re represented by Warnock or Herschel “dumbass” Walker (absolutely no relation).
The fact that Dems who swear by Blackfolk are so quick to declare the Warnock race irrelevant just highlights their blindspot and how any victory at all douses them with serious amnesia. They forget that Dems have two US senators who are Dems in name only, but who often vote the way their GOP donors want them to.
LOOK BACK TO MOVE FORWARD
Somebody needs to remind the Dems that the 2022 midterms was a battle that we won (mostly, but not totally). And that the war still rages. And the other side is always, always, always gearing up for the next battle. My fear is that Dems will do what Dems always do. Allow any piece of good news to lull them to sleep, and pave the way for more “anti-everybody but wealthy white males” victories to overtake us locally and nationally.
The problem is, if it happens again, there may be no more battles after that. Because even if the GOP is through with Trump (which I still don’t believe), the racist roots of Trumpism were there long before he stepped on the scene, and will remain long after he’s dust. And while the Dems are partying like it’s 1999, the folk who were more than willing to throw out Black votes from four different states in order to maintain GOP power, are still around. Still organizing and plotting and planning their next move.
Every time the Dems have been in this “too quick to celebrate” mode, all hell has broken loose. That last hell, paved the way for Trump, who gave permission to GOP members and others to proudly let their racist freak flags fly. They’re not done. Evil never is.
And if Dems don’t slow their roll, the next battle may very well mean the end of the war. With believers in democracy and the humanity of Black people ending up on the losing side.
But it doesn’t have to be as long as Dems get their celebratory heads out of their celebratory asses and get to work, preparing for the next battle. So Dems, slow your roll.