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The Only Thing Red This Morning Are the Faces of Trump and McCarthy

Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy

Suddenly, election fraud seems like a losing issue, as are threats to abortion rights, voting rights, marriage equality, and other extreme measures.

If you're a political junkie who didn't wake up this morning because you never went to bed last night, how do you feel today? Energized? Or, if you did go to bed, and woke up, what was your first reaction to what happened overnight? Surprised?

We had been brainwashed, subsumed, and lectured that a bad economy, possible recession, rampant inflation, high gas prices, an unpopular president, and the usual domination of midterms by the party not in the White House meant disaster for the Democrats.

Political pundits were busy predicting a red wave; however, it crested short of the shore last night.

To be sure, the results of yesterday's election will continue to waver, be tallied, counted, and challenged, so brace yourself for more anxiety, more controversy, more vitriol, and more uncertainty. If the red wave hasn't crested, that doesn't mean that the boat won't wake and rock. Republicans may still yet get control of the House and the Senate, but the electorate, for the most part, sent a message last night that Republican extremism needs to stop, or at the very least, ease.

The captain of the House Republican ship, Kevin McCarthy predicted a red tsunami and predicted that Republicans would sail on to a super-majority in the House. The only thing red this morning is McCarthy's face from the embarrassment of making such an outlandish statement.

Yes, the House may still go to the Republicans, but consider this - one of the things the midterms revealed is that Trump-backed candidates for the most part sank. And that's why, though he would never admit it, Trump is seeing red this morning, although not the way he was hoping for.

The subtext of last night's results is sending a message to many Republican members of Congress, particularly those in districts who squeaked by, mainly not to veer too far to the right, become crazy or declare fealty to Trump.

Doing so will endanger the power these legislators crave for re-election. It might very well mean the return of moderate Republicans and some sanity to the left side of the chamber. Dare we say that some might align with Democrats on certain pieces of Republican-sponsored legislation that appear too extreme?

This could mean that the wild-eyed Republicans in the current 117th Congress, won't be under the same pressure from the far-right fringe in the 118th Congress that begins in January 2023. Theoretically, some Republicans could vote against such measures as denying marriage equality, stripping funding for the war in Ukraine, or codifying abortion -- or voting to impeach President Joe Biden.

Let's be real. It was the issue of abortion that saved Democrats from getting swallowed up yesterday. Republicans pushed too far over the last 40 years and paid the price. This was not a surprise. I wrote in September about abortion being the issue that would drive voters to the polls when I spoke with Democratic pollster Tom Bonier. I felt all along that the pundits I listen to and watch were for the most part wrong when they said that the anger about the overturning of Roe in June seemed to have subsided.

That and the extremism of some of the Republican candidates saved the day for Democrats. During the primaries, Democrats helped puff up some of the more dangerous Republican candidates who won those primaries but ultimately weren't acceptable in the general election.

There are many examples to cite, but perhaps the most satisfying is that Colorado residents may have had enough of Lauren Boebert's devotion to Donald Trump and her claim that he was anointed by God. The Marjorie Taylor Greene (she was re-elected - baffling!) clone might be reduced to one term with her belief in Trumpism costing her re-election.

The twice-impeached Trump isn't going anywhere, even though he seems so diminished this morning. He will probably announce his run to again be the Republican nominee for president next week.

We already know his candidacy is for selfish reasons (has he ever had any other reasons?) in order to try and upend the myriad criminal and civil investigations against him and mess with Attorney General Merrick Garland. Candidate Trump puts all prosecutors in a bind by insinuating their actions against him are politically motivated. But given what happened last night, will Trump's argument of dirty politics work against the dirty crimes he's being accused of?

Trump will continue to stubbornly cling to his number one grievance -- and the only plank on his platform the big lie of election fraud, despite the fact that it now appears to be a losing issue.

Just look how election deniers were walloped in most cases, particularly in governor's races in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Maryland, and Sen. Maggie Hassan's commanding re-election win in New Hampshire. And let's hope Katie Hobbs outruns the flaky Kari Lake in Arizona. If Lake, probably the most prominent of election-denier candidates loses, that will have a devastating effect on anyone who plans on continuing to perpetrate the big lie for political gain. Did voters unwittingly send a sign last night that they have the back of democracy?

Biden said last week during his democracy speech that when it has counted in history, just enough Americans show up to save democracy. Will that be one of the main takeaways of the wild midterms of 2022?

It wasn't all unicorns and rainbows. Florida and Ohio are no longer purple states. They are now solidly red. Last night was a huge win for one of the LGBTQ+ communities' worst enemies, Ron DeSantis. He won big, and he now looks like he stands a real chance of eclipsing Trump's one-issue candidacy and becoming the odds-on favorite to be the 2024 presidential nominee of the Republican party. It's going to come down to the choice between two evils, Trump or DeSantis.

J.D. Vance, a Trump-backed candidate, won the open Ohio senate seat. It remains to be seen if Vance, who once jilted Trump as a private citizen, then adored him to win as a candidate, might revert to something more of a platonic relationship with the flailing Trump when he becomes Senator Vance.

The Democrats didn't clear the decks completely, but you can sense that many voters, particularly independents, came out and said enough is enough, and enough of them threw a buoy to some Democrats who were at risk of drowning during this midterm.

Of course, it's too early to predict what's going to happen in a volatile and still unpredictable political climate, and when control of the Senate may come down to - again - a runoff in Georgia, but enough thoughtful messages were sent by voters yesterday to give a lot of political consultant's food for thought, many candidates second-thoughts, and making McCarthy and especially Trump seem like after-thoughts.

John Casey is editor at large for The Advocate.

Views expressed in The Advocate's opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of The Advocate or our parent company, Equal Pride.

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John Casey

John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.
John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.