2022 was bad, but it could have been worse. This essay is part of a end of year series looking at the silver linings.
In the current political climate, it’s too soon to think that our democracy is no longer threatened, but after this year’s midterm results, we can celebrate that the predictions of its demise were premature.
There was every reason to think he would die, particularly in a midterm election year after the January 6, 2021 attack on Capitol Hill inspired by the former president’s refusal to grant a free and fair election he lost and his amplification of the “big lie.” who has falsely convinced millions of Americans, mostly Republicans, that our electoral system is rigged. That prompted hundreds of election deniers to run for office across the country in 2022.
Some questioned whether the American people would be sufficiently motivated by the intangible and largely esoteric concept of defending democracy to overcome the political obstacles of the economy, inflation, and an unpopular president.
Conventional political wisdom says that midterm elections are usually referendums on the person in power in the White House and the party that controls Congress. But in 2022, American democracy became an issue outside the political norm for voter consideration. Some questioned whether the American people would be motivated enough by the intangible and largely esoteric concept of defending democracy to overcome the political hurdles of the economy, inflation, and an unpopular president to stem what should have been an electoral wave for Americans. republicans.
Clearly they were. States like Georgia and Michigan set turnout records, and for the third consecutive election cycle, we saw an increase Voter Engagement from Gen Z and Millennials affect races across the country, primarily in favor of Democrats. Add the exponential rise in female voter turnout after Dobbsand you can see how democracy emerged as the big winner of 2022.
But it wasn’t just the election result that indicated our democracy was still holding up in 2022. It was the fact that the election results were largely unchallenged. Not a small thing, considering that more than 300 candidates baselessly denied the result of the 2020 presidential election. Many threatened not to accept the election results if they lost. Fortunately, most did, with the exception of professional election deniers like Kari Lake, who lost the Arizona gubernatorial race to Katie Hobbs. She has promised to keep fighting for results. Bless her heart.
In other key 2024 swing states, including Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan, voters have rejected some of the highest-profile election deniers and extremist candidates for offices like secretary of state and governor, directly affecting the administration and election certification. With the defeat of the election deniers and conspiracy theorists and their acceptance of those results, the threat of a constitutional election crisis in 2024 diminished considerably.
President Joe Biden took a political risk by defining the midterm elections as a referendum on democracy and the contrast between Republicans and Democrats on that issue. In his last speech before the election, Biden did not mince words. The shout the dangerous rise in violent political rhetoric fueled by Donald Trump’s election lies and the silence of Republicans in failing to fully condemn them. He rightly warned that if the forces behind the subversion of our electoral system were successful, the results could be catastrophic for America.
“That is the path to chaos in America. It is unprecedented. it is illegal AND it is un-American,” he said.
Fortunately, Biden’s challenge to voters to make the future of our democracy a major part of their election decisions worked, and electoral chaos did not materialize, this time.
not from the tumultuous political climate of the 1930s Has American democracy faced such a dangerous era? The merits of democracy and the subsequent threats to it were hotly debated both at home and abroad then, as they are today. Sinclair Lewis’ famous 1935 dystopian novel “It Can’t Happen Here” served as a warning. Trump’s attempts to nullify the 2020 presidential election and the violence of January 6 remind us of that could happen here.
That reality apparently changed the paradigm in 2022.
In fact, the January 6 hearings served as a wake-up call for American voters. So did the Dobbs Supreme Court decision infringing on women’s bodily autonomy. Those two events highlighted why standing up for democracy, both literally and figuratively, really mattered in tangible ways.
Read the rest of our silver liners series here
Politics is no stranger to overused clichés. “This is the most important election of our life” is usually one of them. But since Trump’s stunning election in 2016, each election has truly become more important than the last. The shock and assault on our democratic norms, institutions and ideals, courtesy of Trump’s and the GOP’s dastardly political support and enablement of everything, has brought the defense of democracy to the fore.
Democracy is a choice, and in 2022, the American people chose to protect it. But democracy does not defend itself. It requires firm commitment and vigilance. So far, the United States has answered the call. Keep going so.