The failure of the red wave

Congratulations, Republicans. You’ve played yourselves


Lilah Kimble

The Democratic party headquarters in downtown Lexington. Members of the Republican Party are espousing the rhetoric of fascism, opinion writer Jack Evans argues.

Jack Evans, Staff Writer

 In the days preceding the election, I had heard many times over that the “red wave” was coming this midterm. That is to say that the Republican Party was expected to have a landslide victory and control over Congress. I felt dread as the days before the election seemingly inevitably ticked away. Everyone from election forecasters, friends and even a professor who said, “There’s no hope for the House,” cemented into my mind that the election had been won even before it began. 

 On election night, I went to a friend’s house for a watch party. While we were jovial with each other, everyone there was upset, angry and worried about the fate of the next two years. We discussed with distaste all the things the Republicans would do once they took power. We facetiously shouted, “Stop the count!” —in light mockery of former President Donald Trump—when known Republican “safe states” initially showed Democratic leads. But ultimately, we weren’t watching the results because we thought the Democratic Party had a ghost of a chance of victory; we were there because we wanted to watch the results like we’d watch a train wreck.  

 As the night dragged on and the results came in, my anxiety for the crimson-stained election map grew. I kept waiting longer and longer, but the “red wave” never came. As I write this, the races for the Senate and House are both neck-and-neck. While the House is favored for Republicans, it is hardly going to be the sweeping triumph that American conservatives expected. This has left me to wonder: why didn’t this colossal “red wave” arise and tumultuously crash into the chambers of Congress, washing away Democratic senators and representatives? 

 America still remembers the scar that is the Jan. 6 insurrection. We all saw it happen. There were armed militias waving “Trump 2020” flags and reciting the former president’s tweets like they were scripture as they stormed into the U.S. Capitol building. There is no denying that these people were Republicans. Furthermore, we watched as the Republican party lied to America, claiming the insurrection was a false flag operation by Antifa. The party even tried to gaslight us by claiming that the insurrectionists were barely distinguishable from a “normal tourist visit,” as Georgia representative Andrew Clyde claimed. 

Perhaps Americans were uneasy about voting the party that spurred the rioters (and subsequently lied about what occurred) back into power. This seems especially probable when you consider the GOP’s plans to disband the House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 attack. It’s a very hard sell to say you want to preserve and protect democracy, but you also want to get rid of the committee whose sole task is investigating the last time American democracy itself was attacked.  

 Ironically, the very claims that caused the Jan. 6 attack may have also caused Republican voters to stay home. Trump’s claims of “fraud” and “rigging” convinced a majority of the GOP base that the results of the election didn’t rest in the fate of their ballots, but in the hands of a Democratic conspiracy to control the government. 

According to an AP article, this claim caused many would-be voters to abstain from voting out of skepticism. It’s the logical karma Trump deserves. His lies broke Republican voters’ faith in the voting process, and subsequently, the Republican Party didn’t have the numbers for their “red wave” to occur. 

Finally, there is the aftermath of Dobbs v. Jackson, the Supreme Court case that removed the Constitutional protection for reproductive rights at the federal level. Even in states where ballot measures regarding the outcome of this decision weren’t being voted on, Democrats felt compelled to show up to the voting booths. The composition of the Supreme Court that made this decision is largely the consequence of appointments by Trump. Controversial Justices like Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch were all appointed by Trump and confirmed by Republican senators. It is truly no wonder why Democrats felt the need to make their voices heard and attempt to prevent even more liberties from potentially being taken away. 

 Overall, I am both happy and saddened by the failure of the “red wave.” Of course, as a registered Democrat, I didn’t want the Republican party to take any seats in Congress, let alone a majority. However, I am saddened that the reasons the “red wave” failed are borne out of the mobilization of fear on the Democratic side and extreme skepticism of the voting process on the Republican side. The failure of the “red wave—” a failure I personally am overjoyed to have seen occur —is an example of how the extremism of Trump-era politics have managed to hurt all Americans. 

I’m glad the Republican Party hasn’t taken control of Congress (at the time of writing), but I am disheartened to see that the reason it hasn’t is because party leaders have taken positions that most people abhor and have deceived their own supporters so well that many of them didn’t bother voting.