On the surface, women made impressive inroads during the 2018 elections but were these advances window dressing? Is there an undertow to be considered that works against these achievements, particularly among white women who remain loyal to Donald Trump despite his sexist views? True, support for Trump seems to have dwindled among educated white women, but in the main, his feminine base appears to be holding. His followers might be appalled by his conduct, but they support the President’s anti-abortion position and credit him, incorrectly, with a burgeoning economy that actually began with the Obama years.
Evidence of the undertow casts its shadow in Alabama’s Amendment 1. If the U. S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade , Amendment 1, passed by 72% of the voters, goes into immediate effect. It bans all abortions within the state. West Virginia’s abortion ban, passed handily with 52% of the vote, goes into effect at the same time. On another front, the State Department proposes to bar U. S. diplomats from using the terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “comprehensive sexual education” in speeches and written material, another erosion of women’s reproductive rights. (The Week, November 16, 2018, pg. 6.) At the far, far right, is Washington State Rep. Matt Shea’s. If he had his way, the United States would be declared a Christian theocracy and nonbelievers would be executed. (Ibid, pg. 6.)
People who work for a kinder, gentler society do have a right to celebrate the 2018 midterm elections to some degree. There’s been a thaw in the red states. Three have voted to expand Medicaid to their residents. Florida has restored the voting rights of former felons. Missouri and Arkansas voted to increase the minimum wage. Michigan legalized recreational Marijuana. And, more women will fill Congressional seats in the next session, though their numbers underrepresent population demographics.
Progress toward a unified country will take patience and persistence, however. We will probably move by inches rather than miles. May the newly elected representatives with fire in their eyes remember that. As David Frum of the Atlantic wrote, “There is no progressive majority in America. There is no progressive plurality in America. And there is certainly no progressive Electoral College coalition in America. It may not be right that the middle of the country exerts radically more political weight than the coasts… Right or not, those things are true and as long as they remain true, political realists musk reckon with them. The struggle for liberal democracy is too real and too dangerous for hearts undirected by heads.” (The Week, November 16, 2018, pg. 12,)