Post-midterm picture isn’t a pretty one

As with all post-traumatic stress, at first there is shock: dulling, almost blissful, the sensation of escaping something horrible — like an operation or Hurricane Nicole — sweet like Oxycontin before the inexorable pull of addiction kicks in. The bitter pill of midterm angst burns the esophagus all the way down. A few races swing the pendulum. However you slice it, it hurts. With compromise no longer in the congressional vocabulary, it will be a long two years.

In the good, the bad and the ugly of this three-reeler, the first reel is missing. Beyond all the obvious, let’s take stock of the most precarious impacts of this week. We’ll bring it all back home in a minute, but the current wave of Ukrainian victories might precede a difficult division. India’s prime minister is fixing to ingratiate himself further with Russian President Vladimir Putin by brokering a land-grab in Ukraine that the Russian military hasn’t earned. Republicans, with even just the threat voiced by Kevin McCarthy of challenging critical funding, may well pull the carpet out from under Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

It isn’t just that mercurial McCarthy is ever blowin’ in the wind of opportunism. It’s that it would serve partisan purposes to ensure that Joe Biden looks a loser. In a Trump snow globe he’ll shake again on the 15th, the unfinished business of Hunter Biden outweighs saving the world for democracy. Layer on the bromance with Putin that polluted the reign of Donald the First, and the ego-driven need to stall Ron DeSantis at the Florida border, and we will all lose sleep until 2024. It’s hard to imagine an octogenarian Biden in office.

Not if, but when, we leave Ukraine as half-pregnant as our own condition, it will be sadly in line with precedent since Vietnam. Biden won’t want another debacle like Afghanistan, but in the face of inflation, the American will to stay the course will sap with the turning of the seasons. It could have been worse. Imagine if Donald Trump had prevailed in 2020. Zelenskyy would have been knocked off the board, a pawn in the game. Seeing a possible Republican return in 2024, China could steal a page from Putin’s playbook. Taiwan’s world-leading semiconductor industry — $115 billion in wafers Xi Jinping has his tongue poised to receive — is too important to ignore. It’s a rare area of leadership for the U.S. as well. Xi needs it badly.

On the long list of things to fear should inmates run the asylum, there is the GOP’s obsession with weakening Social Security and Medicare. “Reclaiming Our Fiscal Future,” a hodgepodge of proposals from the Republican Study Committee of the House, headlines delaying by years these singular supports of our frail social safety net. Ask yourself why a party busy peddling its nostrums to white blue-collar voters would want to take a buzzsaw to a red-state essential prop. Seems counterintuitive, but follow the money.

Pandering to class resentments, racial and sexual dog-whistling, let’s call a spade a spade: The GOP is a tool of the rich, masters of Orwellian doublespeak. If it benefits corporate America, Republicans are happy to ventriloquize Medicare and Social Security cuts. As they say in Putin’s funhouse, where journalism gets people killed, “there’s no Pravda in Izvestia, and no Izvestia in Pravda.” That is to say, “no truth in news, and no news in truth.” How many Republican midterm voters realized they were liable to sign away their own health and safety under the banner of inflationary fiscal fearmongering?

Millions of women turned out at the polls to counter Supreme Court rulings tainted by the paternalism of parochial justices who refuse to respect the separation of church and state. States voted down ballot propositions banning abortion. There aren’t enough Tums in the bottle to quell the queasy feeling brought on when a subverted court bears an uncanny resemblance to a tribunal dispensing Sharia law.

In the education swamp, ignorantly opportunist school boards unearth critical race theory in the smallest of things and ban books willy-nilly. Their paranoid kindred stock election boards. These conspiracy-mongering wack jobs parrot “election integrity” like witches stirring the pot. Come 2024, the guardrails of democracy will be missing in state after state. Certify? No: certifiable.

The failure by Democrats to understand the criticality of state legislatures has been catastrophic. With gerrymandered districts and state officials unmoored from electoral principals, the disease of election denial has spread via midterm candidates soon assuming office. The only honest election is one they win. Even Brazil is better than this.

Here we are. Americans have voted, and we respect the vote — at least some of us do. Pennsylvania, we aren’t in Oz anymore. Time will tell if it’s quicksand for democracy. One thing for sure: It will be two years before the mast. Or will we ban that book?


Winner of three Emmy Awards, Dalton Delan pens biweekly The Unspin Room, which began August 7, 2016 in The Berkshire Eagle; it has appeared in 50+ newspapers.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Dalton Delan

Winner of three Emmy Awards, Dalton Delan pens biweekly The Unspin Room, which began August 7, 2016 in The Berkshire Eagle; it has appeared in 50+ newspapers.