It’s the end of a one-party nation – the Democratic party takes control of the United States House of Representatives during the 2018 midterm elections.
What exactly does this mean for our country?
Remember checks and balances? If you don’t, we have you covered and so does Schoolhouse Rock. The government is made up of three branches of power: executive, legislative and judicial. The executive branch is headed up by the POTUS, the legislative branch is comprised of the House of Representatives and the Senate (which make up Congress) and the judicial branch includes the Supreme Court. While each branch plays specific roles in how our government regulates, the practice of checks and balances ensures that no single branch of government has sole power over the other two.
The Democratic party needed 218 seats to flip the house, and they did just that. For the past eight years, the Republican party has seized the majority for both the Senate and the House of Representatives, aka federal laws and amendments have been made and voted on with primarily conservative ideals. Regardless of political affiliation, this flip was necessary to restore the balance of party representation in the highest of powers of our country.
For President Trump, this means that the House of Representatives is much more likely to launch the investigations on personal finances, interference and ethical scandals that have been seamlessly pushed under the rug the past couple of years.
While much of the attention is on the two-party shift in Congress, many of the house seats are now filled by women. Not just white Democratic women, but women who belong to the Black, LGBTQ+, Muslim, Native American and Hispanic communities. A representation this diverse, especially within such powerful positions, comes at a time when women needed it the most. After a year of desperately fighting for their voices to be heard through the #MeToo movement and during the course of Dr. Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, this counts as a major victory for not only the democratic party but for women all across the nation. #girlpower.
Courtesy: NY Times
House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, addressed the win to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “My friends tonight, a historic victory is within our grasp. A victory we did not seek in the name of our party, but for America’s hardworking families. It will be a victory for our country: restoring checks and balances in our constitution, honoring the vision of our founders, the sacrifice of the men and women in uniform and the aspirations of our children.”
Election night, Nov. 6, was a rollercoaster of wins and losses for both parties. Major liberal fan-favorites across the country such as Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and Andrew Gillum (D-Florida) experienced major upsets at the polls despite massive Twitter followings. Gillum lost the gubernatorial race to Republican candidate Ron DeSantis by less than one percent of the vote, reinforcing Florida’s notorious (and precarious) swing state status – anyone recall that Bush v. Gore epidemic?
DeSantis, a former congressman and outspoken Trump supporter, came under fire earlier in his campaign for alleged racist remarks towards his opponent, reportedly calling him a “monkey”. DeSantis was originally not the forerunner to the Florida Republican nominee, this was originally thought to go to Adam Putnam until President Trump endorsed DeSantis. This pro-presidential ideology was a major component of DeSantis’s platform, even going so far as to air campaign ads focusing on his support for the president. Trump again endorsed DeSantis at campaign rallies in the days leading up to Election Day.
Courtesy: New York Post
So what does a Republican win mean for Florida? DeSantis ran on the platform of environmental protection; during debates with his opponent, he stressed the importance of protecting Florida’s unique coastal environment. DeSantis wants to increase spending on education, opposes tax increases, and wants to protect healthcare access for patients with pre-existing conditions. DeSantis’s most talked about platform points, and most popular with his conservative followers, is stricter immigration policy and to disallow sanctuary cities in the state of Florida. DeSantis is also a supporter of free speech when it comes to protecting conservatives in the classroom and in public.
With all the focus on the new governor of Florida, we cannot forget our old governor – Rick Scott. Scott (R) beat Bill Nelson (D) by less than one percent for Florida’s Senate seat. Scott ran on the idea that he understands the people of Florida and wants to bring that fresh attitude with him to Washington where he was a relatively new face; this is in opposition to Nelson, the incumbent, with experience in the nation’s Capital. Similar to the DeSantis/Trump partnership, Nelson attempted to portray Scott as closely linked to the president, with no true loyalty to Floridians. Scott, although a fervent republican, was wary to show strong support for the president, especially on matters such as Hurricane Maria that had a major impact on Puerto Rico. Coming from Florida, a state so heavily affected by hurricanes and tropical storms, Scott has years of experience handling natural disasters.
The most talked about change in the Florida constitution is the passing of Amendment 4, which will restore voting rights to former felons. This has been deemed the biggest voting overhaul since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and one final step towards repealing the Jim Crow era voting laws that still linger in the U.S. This disenfranchisement of felon voters will allow nearly 1.5 million people to vote in the next Florida election.