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Peaceful Queasy Feeling (Gwen Moritz Editor’s Note)

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I threw up in my mouth a little bit last Tuesday night, and that’s not just a trope. I almost never have any gastric distress, but my nervous agitation over the midterm election got the best of me.

Oh, I was not surprised by any outcome in Arkansas. I was hoping the casino amendment would fail because I’m not a fan of amending our state Constitution for the direct financial benefit of the people who wrote the amendment, but I knew they would wear us down on that eventually. Y’all have fun with that.

I certainly wasn’t surprised by the outcome of any of the partisan elections, except maybe the defeat of state Rep. Charlie Collins by a 10-point margin. It’s hard to know exactly what voters are thinking when they go into the booth — “Take that! And that! And that!” — but it’s clear that his success in passing legislation requiring college campuses to be gun-friendly did not prolong his political career.

I was never so happy to be a resident of North Little Rock as when I watched Little Rock try to choose between three excellent candidates for mayor. Whether Frank Scott Jr. or Baker Kurrus survives the runoff, I’m optimistic the capital city will be well served.

What had my stomach roiling was the prospect that the Democrats might not take back control of the U.S. House of Representatives. I am a longtime proponent of divided government, and never more so than after seeing what happens with one-party government headed by a man who uses intimidation to keep Congress from exercising the checks that our Founders anticipated.

Democrats were expected to regain a majority in the House, but Hillary Clinton was expected to be president, right? I know the pollsters and statisticians try to get their samples right — like journalists, their work product is all they have to sell — but predicting is infinitely harder than reporting after the fact.

Garry Kasparov, the Russian chessmaster who now lives in New York, had people like me in mind when he tweeted back in 2016: “That nervous feeling you have about tomorrow, Americans? That’s democracy working. Unpredictable elections, what a luxury!”

I finally went to sleep secure in the knowledge that elected officials whose political future couldn’t be destroyed by a single angry tweet would have subpoena power. The midterm election did not turn out to be quite the “blue wave” that some Democrats had hoped, but it was plenty good enough for this independent.

And it turns out it was plenty good enough for President Trump, who declared an election in which his party lost control of half of Congress, six governorships and more than 300 state legislative seats to be an “incredible day.”

Then he pulled out a list, literally, of Republican House members who had lost their re-election bids and went down it one by one, kicking each when they were down and suggesting, against all evidence, that they would have won if they had shown him more love. If any Republican politician — having heard the way Trump talked about Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina’s face and Ted Cruz’s wife and father — still harbored any illusion that a man who liked to quote a poem about a snake would never bite them, I trust Wednesday settled that once and for all.

That was also the day that he finally kicked his first congressional supporter, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to the curb for the cardinal sin of following a Department of Justice ethics ruling by recusing himself from oversight of the investigation into Russian interference into the election that Trump won. No good deed goes unpunished by this White House.

The Republicans did maintain control of the Senate and, pending some very close races, may even make up for the seats they lost in that chamber in 2016 and 2017. That too was expected, since the map for Republicans was as favorable as it has been in living memory. A cynic might wonder whether that’s why the president devoted most of his campaign efforts to the Senate, where it would be easier to come out on the winning side.


Email Gwen Moritz, editor of Arkansas Business, at GMoritz@ABPG.com and follow her on Twitter at @gwenmoritz.
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