Today’s elections are bound to put a bit of swagger back into the steps of Democrats. If polls are anything to go by — and since when have they ever led anyone astray? — it will be a dolorous evening for Republicans as they watch state legislatures, governors, and Congress turn Democratic. CNN has the generic gap between Democrats and Republicans at 55 percent to 42 percent. Politico purports to discern an upswing for candidates such as Kyrsten Sinema. Maybe a new political category will also be detected — the shy Democrat voter who scurries to the polls, half ashamed at surrendering his or her Republican identity to pull the lever for a liberal or moderate Democrat. Might the Senate go Democratic as well?
This is the nightmare scenario for the GOP, though Donald Trump, a political arsonist, might initially be amused by the carnage he has wrought. Confronting a hostile Senate and House would allow him to say that you never had it so good until the Democrats, boosted by illegal voters, returned to power. Only a re-elected Trump in 2020 can work to keep the mob at bay. This would be Trump as the Lone Ranger with Mike Pence as his faithful Tonto.
Like Woodrow Wilson, however, Trump might find the presidency an increasingly lonely affair. He doesn’t have Wilson’s candlepower but he does share his personal vindictiveness and hostility to minorities, really to anyone who dares to contradict or even defy him. Wilson was stymied by an obstreperous Congress, much as Trump might find it impossible to get any legislation through Congress. The chances of a federal default would go up exponentially.
For now, though, it is the Republicans who will likely be wringing their hands today even as Democrats ring in victory. Trump, as is his wont, will disclaim any responsibility. He is off to Paris, where he will mark the end of World War I with his sometime chum Emmanuel Macron. Wilson too hung out in Paris after the war to end wars. His efforts during the Great War and after only ended up ushering in a greater one a few decades later. Perhaps Trump’s visit will prove less portentous, though the midterm election itself is being invested in with the importance of a titanic clash between armies on a darkling plain.