By Alex P. Vidal
“Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the one percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice-that struggle continues.”—Bernie Sanders
I WAS among those who was nearly convinced (and was, in fact, made to believe in the eleventh hour) that New York, historically a Democrat state, would be wiped out by the political nightmare called “red wave” in the recent 2022 US midterm elections.
Before the closing of the polling places in the Big Apple at 9 o’clock in the evening on November 8, I “warned” my Jewish employer in Manhattan, a die-hard Democrat, to “be prepared for the new Republican governor” when the results start to come out before midnight.
After being warned himself earlier by his family and friends about the dire narrative for the Democrats, that big losses had been predicted in the midterms and Republicans were poised for a historic red wave, he snapped back: “And it’s been more than 30 years since we last had a Republican governor (in New York).”
He also feared Democrat Governor Kathy Hochul would be defeated Republican rival Lee Zeldin who had surged in the polls in the last days before November 8.
The Jewish Democrat added: “But the last Republican governor of New York was good.”
He was referring to George Pataki, who ousted three-term incumbent Governor Mario Cuomo by a margin of three points in 1994, went on to be elected to three consecutive terms himself.
Pataki was the third Republican since 1923 to win New York’s governorship after Thomas E. Dewey and Nelson Rockefeller.
Not only that. He—or we both—believed other prominent Democrats in the state would also fall in a domino effect after the polls showed a commanding lead for the Republicans.
Then the results started coming in and the red wave never materialized. It went pffft not only in New York but in other states nationwide feared earlier to be swallowed by the red wave.
New York Democrats led by Gov. Hochul survived, except for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a “big fish” who lost to GOP state lawmaker Mike Lawler.
Several key races that will determine control of the U.S. House and Senate remained too close to call as of this writing—Democrats 48, Republicans 49 in the Senate; Democrats 191, Republicans 209 in the House of Representatives.
Ashley Koning, an assistant research professor and director of Rutgers’ Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, explained why election night forecasts were wrong and the red wave was barely a trickle.
Call it a ripple—a splash—whatever you call it, election night was certainly not the red wave that was expected. This stemmed from a highly polarized electorate, unprecedented events like January 6th, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision this past summer effectively overturning Roe v. Wade, and a slew of extremist candidates on the right who did not seem to appeal to voters in a number of races.
President Biden, with underwater approval ratings, is looking like he will pull off a better first term midterm election than either Trump or Obama, who both saw high double-digit losses for their respective parties despite better conditions in 2010 and 2018. These results imply perhaps a not so favorable night for Trump as a Kingmaker of candidates—especially days away from a possible 2024 run announcement—and instead potential good news for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, if he decides to launch a presidential run for 2024.
The results also indicate, even in the midst of rising inflation and concerns over the economy, the issue of abortion is nevertheless a powerful motivator—especially for key voting blocs like women.
At the end of the day, after the most expensive midterm to date, what happened tells us a lot about who turns out and for what reasons and what money can do to influence that.
While contributing little that could be described as entirely original to the philosophical canon, Voltaire (the pseudonym of Francois-Marie Arouet), poured out to the world a most extraordinary mixture of novels, plays, reviews, pamphlets and historical words.
In many ways, with his total commitment to the world around him, he was the epitome of the Age of Enlightenment.
Voltaire’s early satirical works earned him a year in the Bastille and later, in 1726, exile to England.
Already a radical and liberal, he quickly saw in England a society that enjoyed far greater justice and freedom than France.
In his Letters Philosophiques, he praises social, religious and political liberty and uses social utility as the definition of good political institutions.
He was a firm believer in God, but was entirely opposed to the views of the Church and proposed that doubt should be the beginning of wisdom and enlightenment.
He saw evil as essentially man-made, and a mystery that refused to be solved.
His most famous tale, Candide, highlights a world where human life and dignity are of little importance.
Voltaire’s portrait of Pangloss in the novel was at the expense of Pope and Gottfried Leibnitz.
Voltaire, unlike many of his supporters, was a strong advocator of non-violence and believed with passion that the fight against authority, tradition and conformity could be won without the spilling of blood.
Although he died before the onset of the French Revolution, his style of thought did much to inspire the events in 1789.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)