A red, white and blue wave

A red, white and blue wave
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Election Day didn’t bring a blue tsunami that wiped Republicans from the face of the political map. However, it did reveal a red, white and blue wave that swept in new political leaders who look an awful lot more like modern America than the current GOP-led Congress. Candidates who embrace and embody a multicultural nation won campaigns in state and federal offices, except for the U.S. Senate, against those who resist it. Xenophobic Trump nationalism was pushed back by “Opportunity for All” Americanism.

After carving out his political profile in the racially-charged mud of anti-Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip What does Joe Biden believe about NASA, space exploration and commercial space? The star of tomorrow: Temptation and a career in politics reporting MORE birtherism, Donald Trump won the White House while stoking white fear of the coming multicultural majority and advocating for (white) America-first policies. He called Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists and promised a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the country. As president, he has called himself a nationalist.


Misogyny plays a role in Trumpism, too. The Access Hollywood tape only confirmed concerns Americans had about his approach to women. Being a star, he said, meant he could do anything he wanted to women.

Millions of Americans responded to the racial appeals, felt an affinity for them, accepted the misogyny with a “boys-will-be-boys” shrug. If others were bothered, they weren’t bothered enough. Trump won 63 million votes, 62 percent of white men, 52 percent of white women and 46 percent of all Americans, a plurality in enough states to secure an Electoral College victory.  

On Election Day 2018, the America that elected Barack Obama twice re-emerged from Trump’s shadow. According to exit polls, white women, a cohort under intense scrutiny for supporting Trump, split between Democrats and Republicans 49 percent to 49 percent, and Democrats picked up 2 percent of white men, enough to win more than 30 congressional districts and restore Democrats to power in the House of Representatives.

Winning the House is significant, but who won says even more. The House will have at least 100 women members for the first time, including the first Muslim American women, first Native Americans, the first African-American women to represent Connecticut and Massachusetts, and the first Latinas to represent Texas.  We elected the youngest woman to Congress and the oldest. And African-American men and women were elected to represent majority-white districts in states as diverse as Georgia, Texas, Colorado, New York and Illinois. Nurses won, military vets, Democrats from New England to New Mexico, Florida to Utah. The spread was wide, even if concentrated in metropolitan areas.

The trend continued at the state level. Democrats won over 300 state legislative seats, regained control of six state chambers, four new attorneys general offices and seven governors’ mansions.

Prior to the Trump era, the GOP was much more diverse at the statehouse level than Democrats. This year, Republicans didn’t nominate a single person of color for governor; the Democrats nominated six. Congresswoman Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamTop New Mexico tourism official says mass gatherings may not be possible for 18 months The Memo: Activists press Biden on VP choice New Mexico's governor blasts state GOP for 'reckless demand' to reopen MORE (D-N.M.) became the first Latina Democrat elected governor of New Mexico.

Five women won gubernatorial races this year (one Republican). Gretchen Whitmer’s win in Michigan helped put bricks back into the Democratic “blue wall” that Trump smashed in 2016. Democrats hold the governor’s offices in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, three states that voted for the Republican presidential nominee for the first time in decades. And winning in Colorado made Jared Polis the first openly gay governor elected in America.

Despite the heartbreaks for Democrats still being tallied in the Florida and Georgia governors’ races, there were other victories for African-Americans at the state level. Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin each elected Democratic African-American lieutenant governors. And Maryland returned Republican Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford to office. These men and one woman join Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton and Justin Fairfax, Virginia’s lieutenant governor elected in 2017, as senior officials in their states, poised for future leadership.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus Former CBS News president: Most major cable news outlets 'unrelentingly liberal' in 'fear and loathing' of Trump An old man like me should be made more vulnerable to death by COVID-19 MORE tried to double down on his xenophobic political messaging in 2018. He raised the specter of a caravan of illegal migrants headed to the U.S. southern border as an “invasion.” He even sent the American military to the border in a brazen political use of the armed forces. It didn’t work.

Most of these candidates didn’t run on diversity but to secure better health care, education or infrastructure for their fellow Americans. Their victories are evidence of a country with heart and of a politics big enough to give opportunity to anyone willing to fight for a better nation. There is no better red, white and blue standard for America to show the world.

Jamal Simmons is a Democratic strategist who has worked for the Clinton White House, Congress and the Clinton, Gore and Obama presidential campaigns. He is a liberal host for The Hill’s new Hill.TV video division.