Non-Sequitur, an election-day cartoon in the Seattle Times comics section, showed two cavemen viewing voters flattened by boulders thrown during “early democracy” voting. Said one caveman: “It’s called the Midterm Elections because we use middle-sized rocks this time around.”
Most of us felt under attack during the run-up to the midterms. My mailbox was stuffed with slick-paper mailers backing candidates and issues; my e-mail site was bloated with requests for dollars; text messages pinged at all hours. And there was no escape from back-to-back TV ads skewering opponents during news programs and sporting events.
Small wonder that there was so much free-floating anxiety. Even media veterans said that they were uneasy about the midterms. There was much at stake and much that could go wrong. One friend, a former office holder, told me she wasn’t sleeping nights, concerned over polls that seemed to confirm a red wave was headed for our shores: Washington Sen. Patty Murray very narrowly ahead, some militant election deniers poised to take over, the U.S. House solidly in the hands of those who promised to impeach and convict.
Results on election night were not the stemming of the tide, but reduction of the swell to a largish ripple. Two things made the difference: abortion and the turnout of younger voters. The threat over one’s ability to make health care decisions was real and frightening. It mattered to women; it mattered to the young; it mattered in the suburbs; it mattered more than the price of gas. In the end, it wasn’t so much a fight against Biden and Trump as it was an effort to preserve freedoms.
Much awaits counting of final returns and perhaps results of a runoff, but already I am hearing from friends that they are sleeping more peacefully, able to believe in a reasoned future.