This last two years, since this dystopian administration has been in power, I feel as though I’ve been written into a dark comic book. I’m like one of the decent, honest citizens of Gotham who stands holding my hat in horror as villains—too cartoonishly sinister to be believable (see: babies taken from their parents and put in cages)—destroy everything that is good and kind and moral, then throw their heads back and cackle with glee.
Many of us were rooting for a superhero or several of them to swoop in.
Most horrifying to me is that this president and his hench-people are powerful enough to have turned your once cordial, lawn-mowing, tool-loaning neighbor into a red-hatted zombie who cheers hatred against a perceived “other” or quietly supports it. Your neighbor might always have held views you find abhorrent, but it was sure easier to live next door when you weren’t afraid that your rights and those of your children were going to be taken away.
So it’s no wonder that many of us were rooting for a superhero or several to swoop in, via last Tuesday’s midterm elections, throw a mighty blue-fisted punch and—Blammo!—restore law and order to our fair city in three or four comic-book frames. From the lines at my polling place and the activity in the groups that I volunteer with, it seemed possible.
Midterm Elections 2018: The Big Election-Night Letdown
That didn’t exactly happen. I went to bed with a anxiety in my belly over the too-close races and woke up the morning after the midterms feeling disappointed that Supreme Court-seat stealing Mitch McConnell—one of the Legion of Evil, in my opinion—was still going to head the Senate.
The morning after, I woke up disappointed and deflated.
I was tremendously deflated (despite my expectations having been managed) that Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, and Beto O’Rourke did not become Georgia governor, Florida governor, and junior senator from Texas, respectively. As I write this, they appear to have lost to a vote suppressor, a race baiter, and Ted Cruz, also respectively. I am not from the states these candidates ran in, but it is brutal to think that the majority in those states seem to believe that electing folks with these values will “make America great again.”
The fact that there was now going to be a check on this administration, because the Democrats won control of the House of Representatives, was great and all—so, yay!—but like so many others who had, well, read too many comic books, I wanted this to be OVER.
Stalking a Silver Lining or Two
A day later, I’m feeling lighter. While none of the specific superhero types I was rooting for won, things are so much better than they were only the day before, even if all the Democrats in the House do is stop some of the destruction of our democratic institutions, and I think they’ll do much more than that. Three charismatic, moral, and inclusive candidates came incredibly close to winning in states no one thought they would—which means that means legions of my fellow Americans saw exactly what I saw. That’s heartening.
Things are so much better than they were only the day before.
Young-adult early voting turnout was up an astonishing 188%, which bodes well for the future. And there were lots of historic “firsts” in terms of the backgrounds of the people elected last night—Muslims, Latinas, LGBT candidates, and women all picked up seats for the first time in their states and districts—which moves us toward a more representative government.
“We didn’t get our miracle,” my friend Julie said when I expressed my disappointment in anything less than a complete repudiation of what’s happening to the country I love. “But these people are a miracle in their own way and represent a very different future.” And she’s right.
Stephanie Dolgoff has contributed to a a variety of titles as an editor and writer, including SELF, Glamour, “O” The Oprah Magazine, Redbook, and many others. Her articles have also appeared in the New York Times and the New York Post. Her book, My Formerly Hot Life: Dispatches From Just The Other Side of Young, was a New York Times national bestseller.