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The Meaning of the Midterms: They Solve Nothing, Mean Nothing

No blue wave, no "Trump bump." We're still waiting for politics to catch up with a world of increased individual autonomy.

The good folks at Spiked asked me (and four other writers) to explain "the meaning of the midterms." Here's my contribution:

This election solves nothing, means nothing, writes Nick Gillespie.

Spiked OnlineSpiked OnlineThere was no 'blue wave' and there was no 'red wall'. What we are experiencing in America is the politics of exhaustion, of two large, lumbering ideological golems whose energy and forward momentum is completely spent.

Party affiliation is at or near historically low levels, and who can blame us? Neither party even pretends to offer an appealing, let alone viable, vision of the future.

The Democrats are vowing to expand government bureaucracy. But in an age of Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, and Amazon, who wants the government to control every aspect of our personal, cultural, commercial and economic lives? Meanwhile, most of what the GOP talks about is a sense of being invaded—by people who talk and smell funny and eat weird food, or griping over the loss of factory jobs that started disappearing (thank God, says those of us who ever worked in a factory) in 1943.

The only interesting question is: what flowers, weeds, and, better yet, mutant plants will be fertilised as America's two major parties finally beat each other to death trying to make their desiccated visions of the past a reality? We live in a world in which economic, cultural and individual power is more dispersed and decentralised than ever before. In the richer parts of the world and, increasingly, the poorer parts too, elite fantasies of mass control and consolidated power have been replaced by something like autonomy. In America, we're still waiting for our politics to catch up.

Read more, including sharp entries from Sean Collins and Reason contributors Brendan O'Neill, Michael Tracey, and Wendy Kaminer, here.

Photo Credit: Spiked Online

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  • Juice||

    But in an age of Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, and Amazon, who wants the government to control every aspect of our personal, cultural, commercial and economic lives?

    Alexa, is it better if Facebook and Google control our lives or the government?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    [evil Alexa laughter]

  • Here for the outrage||

    What's the worst thing facebook can do to you?

  • Juice||

    If I used Facebook, it could turn over all the data it has on me to the government, who could do real physical harm to me, especially the companies that track your every move and have microphones, cameras, and GPS in your house, in you car, and on your person, if you let them. I didn't mean to imply that there was a dichotomy between these social media/tech companies and the government. I should have phrased it differently. They work hand in hand. At this point Facebook, Google, and Amazon are fulfilling the wettest dreams and wildest fantasies that intelligence agencies have had for decades, which is to be able to track everyone everywhere and know what everyone is doing at all times. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find out that the government has tapped into companies' data streams and databases the way they tapped into the telcoms to track phone conversations and metadata.

  • Here for the outrage||

    I figured you meant the combination of the two, I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something.

    If they do work hand in hand with the government, I agree that's dangerous. But even if they are at this very moment, they still suck at it. We'll see what the future holds.

  • Eddy||

    "The Meaning of the Midterms: They Solve Nothing, Mean Nothing"

    OK, Suzy Sunshine, I think I can top that:

    "The thing that hath been, it is that which will be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to some with those that shall come after."

    Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

  • DenverJ||

    Completely accurate for a bronze age civilization, even more so for the paleolithic. But now we have jet packs and flying cars.

  • Harvard||

    And they too are vanity.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Yeah, Gillespie, I am sure all the people currently working in factories are eagerly anticipating the day their place if employment closes and they are thrown out of work. The "I hate X, therefore no one will mind if X goes away" mentality is truly a marvel of condescending smugness to behold.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    How about this instead:

    I want the menial repetitive factory jobs to go away, because we spend far too much money on education to have that investment largely wasted on people going to jobs that could be performed by illiterate 7th graders.

    It's not condescending smugness to say "you're vastly overqualified for the job that you have".

  • Mickey Rat||

    That is not necessarily what factory jobs entail, and not all people are overqualified for those type of jobs. In fact, a growing problem we seem to be developing is having employment for people who do not have the mental faculties for highly educated work.

  • Here for the outrage||

    We have both easily automated jobs and highly educated openings.

    And Mickey, no ones entitled to a job. Just because it sucks doesn't mean an owner need consider feelings

  • Nardz||

    Take your average drone (especially HR) out of the office and put him/her into a factory- they will be far less productive, if not outright failures.
    Put the factory workers into offices- I bet they adapt better, if somewhat less cheerfully

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The market appears to disagree with this disaffected analysis.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Kirkland has no citations.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    How often do companies become more successful in the marketplace by swapping their manual laborers and front office workers, you disaffected, envious loser?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Mickey Rat yearns for the return of the cottage industries.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The election solves this: The USA is NOT bending Lefty. In fact its shifting more conservative.

    This election means this: The GOP has 34 state to convene an Article V Constitutional Convention and Congress cannot do shit about it. If 38 state ratify those amendments, we can take our nation back.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Democrats picked up 35 to 40 House seats, you bigoted rube, while Republicans flipped anywhere from one to three Senate seats in a strikingly advantageous context. Democrats picked up roughly nine gubernatorial seats. Republicans struggled to hold a Senate seat in Texas, and got wiped out in the largest county in Texas, Harris County.

    Democrats are beating Republicans in popular vote by an increasing margin that seems destined to reach double digits soon. As Republican gerrymandering fades (Pennsylvania) and Republican voter suppression is diminished (Democratic governors), and the electorate improves in ways that costs Republicans votes (less white, less rural, less religious), systemic structural amplification of rural votes is losing its ability to enable an increasingly unpopular Republican Party to maintain an effective electoral coalition.

    Republicans win among uneducated and unaccomplished white, rural males. Republicans win in downwardly mobile communities and where vestigial bigotry influences elections. Republicans win among older voters nearing the point at which they will take their stale thinking to the grave, to be replaced by better Americans.

    Good luck with all of that, clingers, in your efforts to recover from a half-century of getting your asses kicked by the liberal-libertarian mainstream.

  • Here for the outrage||

    Only 6 years to go dude. Thank god I'm already dead from climate change, the market crash, and WW3

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Democrats are beating Republicans in popular vote by an increasing margin that seems destined to reach double digits soon.

    Broward County is certainly doing their part to manufacture as many Team Blue votes as they can, as was the case in MN for Al "Grab Dem Titties" Franken.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Quit whining, you disaffected loser.

  • Here for the outrage||

    Shouldn't you be making dumb arguments about how black and brown people are too something something something to get to the polls?

    In Broward, they fill the ballot out for you, even if you're dead. Problem solved

  • buybuydandavis||

    He shouts at himself

  • Ecoli||

    In the mid term elections the popular vote is meaningless. Who cares if 10 million Californians voted for Democrats? CA votes don't matter anywhere but CA.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    +10

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Poor Kirkland is gonna have a shit fit when RBG is replaced by Trump.

    RINOs in the House were not doing much for Trump's rollback abenda anyway. This election got rid of a bunch of RINOs, so the next batch to take the House from the Democrats will be more conservative or Libertarians.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Could barely care less.

    I advocate enlarging the Court to ensure that the right-wing justices spend the rest of their professional lives authoring spirited, inconsequential dissents.

    Until then, do your best, clingers.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    By all mean pack that son of a bitch, you son of a bitch.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Not since 1860 have the Democrats so fanatically refused to accept the result of a free election. That year, their target was Lincoln. They smeared him. They went to war to defeat him. In the end, they assassinated him.

    Now the target of the Democrats is President Trump and his supporters. The Left calls them racists, white supremacists and fascists. These charges are used to justify driving Trump from office and discrediting the right "by any means necessary."

    But which is the party of the slave plantation? Which is the party that invented white supremacy? Which is the party that praised fascist dictators and shaped their genocidal policies and was in turn praised by them?

    Moreover, which is the party of racism today? Is fascism now institutionally embodied on the right or on the left?

    Through stunning historical recreations and a searching examination of fascism and white supremacy, Death of a Nation cuts through progressive big lies to expose hidden history and explosive truths.

    Lincoln united his party and saved America from the Democrats for the first time. Can Trump—and we—come together and save America for the second time?
    -Death of a Nation movie

  • DenverJ||

    Rather unfortunate title...

  • Ordinary Person||

    You're so fucking stupid.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Lefties hate d'souza a racist Indian man who see and speaks about the Democrats and Lefties for what they are.

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    What lyin' Nick Gillespie really wants: to go back to those halcyon days of 2009 and 2010 when it was the liberal democrats who had total one party control.

    When his messiah Obama got elected in '08 he laughably called it "Our Libertarian Moment", and he has never been more happy in his entire life than he was then.

    I can post the link to the piece if anyone out there thinks I'm making it up.

  • Jim Logajan||

    Before my time here, so I'd be interested in a link - couldn't find the piece using some simple search criteria.

  • Doug Heffernan||

    "Party affiliation is at or near historically low levels, and who can blame us?"

    Most independents aren't independent at all. They hold clear partisan preferences, but they utterly refuse to identify with their preferred party.

    Samara Klar spent several years ('08-'15) studying how Americans feel about political parties and why so many of them proclaim they are independent. Registered independents are mostly liars.
    https://www.c-span.org/video/?406242-10

    elite fantasies of mass control and consolidated power have been replaced by something like autonomy

    Nick said he doesn't like pot, so what is he high on? Probably all that autonomy.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    Exactly. Independent means "not registered to a party"

    It doesn't mean moderate, and it doesn't mean swing voter.

    I know several "Independents" who are hard-core progs who vote straight Blue.

  • DiegoF||

    There are probably even more who are heavily ideological conservatives, constitutionalists, and so forth. (How many of us besides John would ever characterize ourselves as Republicans, though to progs we are nothing but the very picture of "their extremist right wing"?) The steady, secular trend for decades has toward weaker identification with the party of your choice, even as ideological differentiation of the parties has actually dramatically increased over that same period. And party identification has always been weaker among Republican voters than Democratic; and this alienation sharply increased after Bush made the brand name mud. Only in the Trump era has it started to recover a bit, and that is still far too short-term to make anything of it.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    Interesting take on that.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Nihilism, Gillespie? I mean, say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it's an ethos.

  • gaoxiaen||

    I am the walrus?

  • PeteRR||

    Of course it means something. Even if it is just the orderly transfer of power and the continuing survival of a constitutional republic, that is something. Advocating for voter apathy is how we eventually lose the country we have.

    On a more partisan note, it means we continue to get originalist judges being nominated and seated on the federal judiciary. That is not nothing.

  • Weigel's Cock Ring||

    This is exactly 100% the opposite of what lyin' Nick wants. He wants more Ginsburgs, Sotomayors, and Breyers in there.

  • DiegoF||

    I'd rather more Breyers in there than Ben & Jerry's, at this point.

  • Tony||

    You guys love your euphemisms. If having a Christian theocratic plutocracy is what you want, why not just use those words? "Originalist" is a word meant to obfuscate and fool people.

  • PeteRR||

    Middle class atheist here, but thanks for playing.

  • Tony||

    Obviously it's not just theocratic billionaires who vote for Republicans.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I'm agnostic. So there goes your bigoted theory.

    Honestly Tony, it continually astounds me as to how you remain unmurdered.

  • Harvard||

    It wasn't God that made you a fairy. You must get a grip here.

  • Tony||

    Where's "here"?

  • Harvard||

    The vacuum betwixt your ears.

  • Here for the outrage||

    Come for the libertarianism, leave with an Ivy league education in burns

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    That is because there is no God, you gullible, bigoted rube.

  • Nardz||

    "That is because there is no God"

    A statement as reliant on faith as its opposite.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Arty is pretty stupid and uneducated. He would likely calll CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien bigoted runes too.

    Arty of course being the real bigot.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    'Runes' not 'runes'

  • Michael Palin's Buttplug||

    You keep saying "runes" but I think you mean "runes."

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    There may be a god, but the likelihood that anything close to the "God" claimed by any organized religion -- in particular, the God that a bigoted asswipe such as Harvard envisions -- exists is roughly the same as the chance that Paul Ryan will be the next Speaker of the House.

    Agnosticism is the sensible choice among current, educated, informed, functional humans.

  • ||

    If having a Christian theocratic plutocracy is what you want, why not just use those words?

    Why not, for once in your life, respond to something someone actually says rather than responding to the dog-whistles you think you hear?

  • Tony||

    It was a historically large number of flips to Democrats despite rampant racist gerrymandering by Republicans with no souls. The senate may be a net +2 gain for Republicans when all is said and done despite their historically favorable map. Blue wave it was. More so than we thought on election night.

  • PeteRR||

    I mean not really historical. They've had much bigger net gains in the past.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    It was ....... average.

    For all the anti-Trump enthusiasm and high turnout, it was merely average. And if you're the opposition party, the first midterm is the best chance to pick up seats.

  • Tony||

    The largest House gain for Democrats since 1974 (after another Republican president disgraced the country).

  • Arizona_Guy||

    So not as good as 1994 or 2010. Got it.

  • Arizona_Guy||

    Dreamy O'Rourke spent $70 million in an election cycle favorable to Team Blue, against creepy Ted Cruz.

    And he still lost.

  • Tony||

    I don't think anything would surprise me more than Texans not being dumbasses for a day.

  • DiegoF||

    Long term, the Dems have spent $70 million to fool themselves into thinking that this drunken buffoon is actually a strong candidate and the future rock star pinup of their party. They could have the nationwide dominance they "deserve" given the demographics, if their stupidity and lack of talent didn't keep putting that day off further and further.

  • Tony||

    People in fat, orange, dementia-addled daughter-fucking traitorous houses shouldn't throw stones.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    This is why we need to get the money out of politics.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Blue wave gave Lefties a sad.

    Trump will replace RBG, Thomas, and Breyer thanks to Lefty stupidity.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Your betters will enlarge the Court in a few years and Republicans will be powerless to do anything other than watch at least two new Justices join the Supreme Court.

  • Michael Palin's Buttplug||

    And Republicans will never hold power after you've set that precedent (because muh permanent progressive majority or something) and use it to expand the court yet again.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Who cares?

    First, what is the disadvantage to Democrats if they use the power to their advantage? That Republicans would use it to regain advantage if it gets the chance?

    Second, the Republican Party appears to be headed toward political irrelevancy. Something may replace the current conservative-Republican electoral coalition, but if that something can win elections it will likely be far better than the current right-wing mess.

  • Dizzle||

    Yes. Ask democrats how they now feel about lowering the threshold to confirm supreme court justices lol.

    Or ask them how they feel about all Obamas executive orders now that trump is slinging his own out left and right.

    Any expansion of power in this government will always be used against the other party when the time comes. And at the peoples expense.

    But keep moving the goalposts you sad sack of hihn.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    America becomes less backward, less white, less religious, less bigoted, and less rural just about every day. Stale-thinking old people take their right-wing views to the grave and are replaced by younger, better Americans.

    How do you expect this predictable improvement in our electorate to influence Republican (or Democratic) political prospects throughout the foreseeable future, Dizzle?

  • Michael Palin's Buttplug||

    All that, just to avoid having a Supreme Court that believes the law means what it says. Tsk, tsk...

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Tony, just imagine how pathetic your democrat friends would have performed if they didn't have the entire media in their pocket.

    Oh, and I hope you die. I really do.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Getting your ass kicked to a pulp politically and socially by better Americans for the entirety of your life has made you a bitter, unattractive person.

    Except that the reason you are such a disaffected, anti-social, irrelevant person is likely that you were bitter and unattractive to begin with.

    Enjoy more liberal-libertarian mainstream progress at the expense of your wishes and efforts, loser.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Millions less Republicans voted this election.

    Nearly every democrat that could vote did vote. Even dead ones.

    Election 2020, will see Trump elected AND the democrats losing the House again and more seats in the senate.

    Then census 2020 will take house seats from Blue states and hand them to Red states. Further stripping Democrat power.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    By them most American workers will have left the Democratic party and many black folks will have left the party of slavery and the KkK.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    When evaluating this bigoted yahoo's predictions, recall his unqualified declaration a week ago that the Republicans would hold the House (rather than get their asses kicked to the tune of 38 seats and still counting).

  • AlmightyJB||

    But this was the most important election of our lifetime.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Yes: Nancy's Pelosi's third, or was it fourth, prediction of the end of civilization if Democrats did not win something?

  • creech||

    The GOP lost thirty seats in Congress. Would not have happened if Trump's accomplishments were as widely popular as he and his supporters seem to think. Don't give me that "midterm history" stuff - I doubt any voter went and looked up the history of midterm elections and then voted for the Dems because "history."

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Most of those seats were RINOs. They should never have been GOP in the first place. Those districts are full of lefty shitbags.

    Trump is more popular than ever in states not individual districts.

    Then census 2020 comes along and takes House seats from Blue states and hands them to Red states.

  • Michael Palin's Buttplug||

    You think, genius? Historic trends don't exist because people go and look up the history first and then make sure to continue that tradition, but rather because the conditions are broadly the same. In this case, that means the supporters party out of power are much more motivated than the supporters of the party in power. Thus why virtually every president suffers substantial losses in the House in his first midterm. Only counter example in the last 50 years was Bush gaining seats because of 9/11.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    The GOP gained those seats because of the utter incompetence of the previous years of Team Blue control. The nation was willing to vote for damn near anyone who wasn't running as a Democrat.

  • DiegoF||

    griping over the loss of factory jobs that started disappearing (thank God, says those of us who ever worked in a factory)

    See now, I don't think we have to all become John here. But there's no need for this. I think it's wonderful that for Gillespie factory work was nothing but a summer job or an after-school job, or whatever, on the way to a career he found much more fulfilling--one of the ever-vanishing few (talk about a sector in decline!) lucky enough to make a good living in journalism. But I'm not so sure that's given him a perspective on factory work that is as universal as he imagines it to be.

    I'm not a factory careerist either, to be fair, but from my experience folks like these jobs just fine because they pay well. Immigration, automation, offshoring--these things do cost jobs. And they do have losers. Prosperous middle-class people are not crazy about the prospect of competing with the other layoffs to fold pants at the Gap with their daughters, no matter how much economists might cheer over it. It is just bizarre that Gillespie is rendering what may be a legitimate cheer about economic development writ large into some sort of sentiment that affected individuals should cheer liberation from those awful factory jobs. It's this kind of thing that gives free marketeers a bad name.

  • Tony||

    Those white guys in those nice shiny Canadian factories featured on How It's Made all seem relatively happy.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I agree. I'm not accusing Nick of snobbery, but there is an extremely tone-deaf attitude about the blue-collar end of the work spectrum that is widely accepted without question.

    Every small town in America can't be turned into a vibrant tech-hub with a bustling, hip restaurant scene.

    Hell, Reason posted an excellent article on this, re: the two journalists who visited "flyover" country and utterly ignored the out-of-work 48 yr old truck driver drinking Folgers from a chipped porcelain cup at the diner.

    You're not going to turn that guy into a white-collar high-tech worker. There's a good chance he'd love to have a factory job.

  • DiegoF||

    Sounds too interesting to pass up! You got a link to that?

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    The #BlueTsunami was a loud and clear repudiation of Orange Hitler and his party of Russian stooges. Voters sent a message that since the GOP won't stand up to Drumpf, we want responsible, patriotic Democrats in charge who will.
    The historic gains in the House will return Nancy Pelosi to Speaker status, and as a libertarian I couldn't be happier.
    Moreover, as Shikha Dalmia has observed, the most extreme white nationalist / anti-immigrant candidates were soundly defeated. Promising news indeed for the progressive / libertarian, Koch / Reason open borders agenda.

    In short, this was the most important midterm election of my lifetime, and Democrats delivered in a major way.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    lumbering ideological golems whose energy and forward momentum is completely spent.

    You don't need "momentum" to be immovable.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Party affiliation is at or near historically low levels, and who can blame us? Neither party even pretends to offer an appealing, let alone viable, vision of the future.

    Hey, I've caught a little bit of the POD Save America on HBO. Those young democratic hipster politicos sure seem excited to be on board.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    But in an age of Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, and Amazon, who wants the government to control every aspect of our personal, cultural, commercial and economic lives?

    It's funny how Nick just rattled off everything that unite modern Democrats against the free market. The only thing missing in that list was Big Tobacco and Russian Meddling.

  • Here for the outrage||

    Don't forget climate change and the second amendment

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    The #BlueWave crashed on the #RedWall, destroying both and leaving behind a #PurpleSludge.

  • DiegoF||

    Ewwwwww.

  • DiegoF||

    At least let me try to boil it to create a haze.

  • Sevo||

    "The Meaning of the Midterms..."

    The Ds are combing the internet for life-extension strategies for RBG.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The Lefties are freaking arent they?

  • BigT||

    " In the richer parts of the world and, increasingly, the poorer parts too, elite fantasies of mass control and consolidated power have been replaced by something like autonomy. In America, we're still waiting for our politics to catch up."

    Snowden would like a word.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Some of you guys seem to have insight concerning Republican politics.

    How is Jim Jordan's campaign for Speaker of the House going?

    Thank you.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    No blue wave

    I gather that part was written before the Democrats' House haul began to approach 40 and when right-wingers were sufficiently uninformed to believe that Floridians and Arizonans had elected Republican senators.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    RBG to be replaced by Trump soon.

    Lefties start rioting.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    It will be television worth watching if he nominates Amy Barrett Coney.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Oh f, Amy Coney Barrett.

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