From Bernie Sanders’ semi successful bid for the presidency to this election cycle, progressive policies appear to be on the rise for the left. Yet the fire for candidates like Beto O’Rourke and Stacey Abrams seen across social media platforms did not seem to make its way to the polls last Tuesday. The majority of successful Democrat candidates clung to the center, appealing to both diehard Democrats and conservatives dissatisfied with current Republicans in Congress. Meanwhile, more progressive candidates – commonly running in support of single payer healthcare, free college tuition, and a tax increase for the rich – fell short of success.
Moderate Democrats ran promising “a Congress that is open, transparent, and accountable to the American people,” echoed by minority leader Nancy Pelosi Tuesday night. This message has become monumentally important to many Americans, nearly eclipsing every other issue. In contrast to their more liberal peers, moderates also promised to support gradual changes to healthcare rather than the complete transformations sought by both the right and far left. While the previous election year illustrated that these safe platforms would no longer be enough for Democrats to win, 2018 paints a different picture. Despite these inconsistencies, progressive policies have not lost traction – 48.3% of Texas voters deflate this perception – they simply haven’t gained much popularity. Instead, mobs of formerly loyal Republicans have abandoned their party in response to recent instability. With many Americans unsure of whether to trust a president accused of collusion, traditional Democrat platforms have become a safe haven. Meanwhile, those who vehemently support the president and his party vote red with pride. This leaves progressives with nowhere to go but the back burner, until next time.
While Democrats managed to flip several seats in the House in order to become the majority party, Republicans strengthened their hold in the Senate. This may indicate that the political divide which hoisted Trump to power has no intention of dissipating just yet.
But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost for progressives and Democrats in the upcoming years. Taking back the house after being in the minority for nearly a decade is a huge win, and many races lost by the left were quite close. Texas, for example, saw a daringly progressive campaign built entirely by the support of everyday people. After conceding to Ted Cruz, O’Rourke left voters with pride in their achievement of a campaign independent of PACs and dirty money. As long as people fear “Trump’s party” (being different than the Republican party itself), these kinds of campaigns will remain a novelty. Until then, they continue to grow and make a name for themselves in the public sphere.