|Senator-Elect Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)|
Lost to the fact that Democrats didn't win back the Senate was the fact that the Democratic congressional caucuses got a lot more diverse. Four new women were elected to the Senate on Tuesday, three of which are women of color: Catherine Cortez Masto, the first Latina US Senator, Kamala Harris of California, who became only the second African-American woman elected to the US Senate in American history, and Tammy Duckworth, the second Asian-American woman to serve in the Senate and a military veteran to boot. The House also saw some historic firsts as well: Pramila Jayapal became the first Indian-American woman elected to Congress and Lisa Blunt Rochester became the first woman ever elected to Congress from Delaware. This makes Vermont and Mississippi the only states in the union to not yet elect a woman to Congress. These are all steps to be proud of, even if they come on a night that should have seen a bigger moment for women in politics.
2. LGBT Issues Were Winners
LGBT issues were not a huge aspect in the presidential race (not once was there a question asked by a debate moderator in any of the four debates-something I think should look regrettable in hindsight considering how anti-LGBT Mike Pence's record is), but they were a factor in two races where the Democrats beat incumbents. In New Jersey, Rep. Scott Garrett, one of the most virulently anti-LGBT members of Congress, lost to former White House speechwriter Josh Gottheimer after Garrett refused to donate to the NRCC because they supported gay Republicans for public office.
Additionally, in North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory, he of the famously transphobic bathroom bill, got kicked to the curb, with Democrats and Independents alike rallying around now Gov-Elect Roy Cooper. Cooper made McCrory's bathroom bill a major part of his campaign, and has been a pretty decent ally for the LGBT community (especially considering how conservative his state is), and will make a fine leader for the Tarheel State. It's worth noting that this might be premature (this race is officially too-close-to-call), but all indications are that Cooper will be able to hold in a recount. As a result, LGBT Americans and allies can point to these races as hope that their cause still has an audience.
3. Ballot Initiatives
One of the more frustrating aspects of running in the past two cycles is that people support our issues, but not our candidates (sorry, I can only be so optimistic). However, those issues will have a major impact across the country and should be cheered by progressives. With minimum wage increases looking unlikely at a federal level under Trump, we still saw increases in Arizona, Washington, Colorado, and Maine. Gun safety saw a few victories as well, winning ballot initiatives in Washington (very good night for Democrats in Washington), California, and Nevada. Marijuana legalization advocates won major victories in California, Nevada, and Massachusetts, which became the first state in the country to legalize marijuana east of the Rockies. And California (again-god bless Jerry Brown and his crazy, liberal utopia he's creating out on the West Coast) also removed restrictions on bilingual education. With congress now in Republican hands for two years (and the Senate likely for four), ballot initiatives are going to be a way for Democrats and progressives to have a voice in the next four years-I'd encourage you to look into how you can get involved in one of them (we have elections in November 2017 as well, after all).
|Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)|
I'll say this because it's bothering a lot of people, but the Democratic bench isn't as barren as you'd guess based on the dire straits coming out of the news. Yes, we don't really have another Hillary Clinton on-deck (I'm guessing Michelle Obama is absolutely devastated about the results, but not to the point where she's going to pick up the baton in 2020, so let's stop that fantasy), but we have more stars than they'd like to admit. Elizabeth Warren has graduated pretty well from her awkward campaign style four years ago in her Senate run to being an excellent explainer-on-the-stump, while Cory Booker's massive and easy appeal with Millennials shouldn't be discounted. I don't think Bernie Sanders is a good option (he'll be nearly 80 in four years), so I'm not listing him here, but he'll remain a senator with an easy platform and a bully pulpit during a Trump administration, and will be able to rally millions of people who follow him on Twitter (for the record, I do as of this moment-hadn't yet, but I'm here for any ally during this time, and Bernie's proven to be one over and over again). Tim Kaine is still in the Senate, and now has a popular national profile. Kamala Harris and Catherine Cortez Masto are both stars in the making, in my opinion (Cortez Masto started off her Senate tenure with this badass tweet that went a bit viral), and there are several stars in the making that haven't made too many waves yet like Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Chris Murphy that I think you'll be hearing a lot more about in the next couple of years.
There's also a major chance for Democrats to redeem themselves in two years during the Midterms. Midterm elections are frequently sources of pain for the party out of party, which we unfortunately are now, and as a result, we have a unique opportunity to pickup governor's mansions in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan in states that are currently gerrymandered to the hilt. The governor elected in two years will control the redistricting process, and be able to help give some more balanced power to the people there.
5. This One's Snarky But...
Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan, three of those men who tried to have their cake and eat it too on Trump? Endorsing him tepidly but not vociferously to keep their White House hopes intact? Yeah, they're never going to be president. Even if Trump retires or loses in 2020 (and boy do I hope he runs and loses so we can hear that concession speech we deserved this year), Pence will surely be the nominee in 2024 and these guys will be yesterday's news by then. So Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Paul Ryan, all of whom clearly hate their jobs, had their dreams dashed on Tuesday as well. It's sour grapes, but at least you can turn those into wine.