Democrats made history this year

Democrats made history this year
© Stefani Reynolds

The 2018 midterm election results are still trickling in but the verdict is clear and more than hopeful than ever for Democrats and many others. Voters used their ballots to send a message to President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE: Enough!

Trump campaigned hard and defeated a few red state Democrats in states that he won in 2016. He eked out victory for his candidates by stoking entrenched hatred and bigotry, ragged fears which, in a last hurrah, “trumped” the red state Democratic issues in the Senate of protecting health care and rebuilding our infrastructure. Despite this, the harmful toxins emitted by Trump might not prevail in the Mississippi runoff for Senate this week. The Republican candidate just placed race front and center by embracing vigilante hangings, a step too far for the state where many of our civil rights leaders were lynched, murdered, and buried.


Voters gave Democrats a mandate to share power in Washington and the states, such as the decisive victories for the governorships in Wisconsin and Michigan, two midwest states where Trump squeaked out a 2016 victory, but could not do so in 2018. Democrats prevailed in a toxic atmosphere where Trump controlled the daily narrative. Take a look at the Texas Senate race, which Democrat Beto O’Rourke lost, but he secured the momentum to victory in 2020. Republican Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBooker, Harris have missed most Senate votes O'Rourke sweeps through Virginia looking to energize campaign Disney to donate million to rebuild Notre Dame MORE, the incumbent who contested for the presidential nomination of his party in 2016, won just 51 percent of the vote in one of the reddest states in the nation.

We did not get everything. But Democrats got what we needed to restore a strongly competitive two party system of checks and balances. These election night victories bear repeating. Democrats flipped seven governorships in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, and formerly rock ribbed Republican Maine. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisColorado governor signs 'red flag' gun bill Colorado governor expected to sign net neutrality bill Colorado sheriff says 'red flag' gun bill doesn't address mental health MORE became the first openly gay man elected governor, while Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamMilitia group in New Mexico draws scrutiny for detaining migrants at border New Mexico gov signs bill granting electoral votes to national popular vote winner New Mexico to decriminalize marijuana MORE will become the first Democratic hispanic governor in our history.

It does not stop at governorships. The 2018 blue wave of Democratic candidates will become the most diverse group of elected officials in our history. A record number of more than 120 women will serve in Congress next year with 19 of them Republicans. There were multiple “female firsts” for federal offices, including the first Muslim woman and the first Native American woman elected to Congress. Massachusetts and Connecticut both sent their first black female representatives to Washington.

Democrats took control of seven state legislative chambers and at least 380 state legislative seats flipped to Democratic control. Altogether, Democrats won more than 2,900 state legislator races, over half of those that they contested. Just as significantly, Democrats now hold the attorney general post in over half the states. That will help enormously to ensure fair future elections end the scourge of voter suppression.

It was not just a good election season for Democratic candidates. Democratic values triumphed across the nation as well. Three red states voted to expand Medicaid, bringing health care access to an additional 168,000 people through the Affordable Care Act, known to most of us as ObamaCare. There are now three dozen states along with the District of Columbia that have expanded Medicare coverage for their residents.

Moreover, in a major victory, Amendment 4 passed on election night in Florida. Following the lead of many states, Florida will restore voting rights to people with prior felony convictions. In Massachusetts, voters upheld nondiscrimination protections for transgender people in public spaces. Arkansas and Missouri chose to raise the minimum wage. Ballot measures passed in Maine, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Georgia, and Rhode Island will culminate in millions more for education funding. Finally, multiple states passed bipartisan measures to fight corruption in government ethics, lobbying, campaign finance, and voter rights.

Now we get to the serious business of who will lead the Democratic controlled House in an otherwise Republican controlled Washington. Democrats have their toughest leader ready to take the field in critical times. Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiBoth sides were wrong about Mueller report, and none of it will likely matter for 2020 Elijah Cummings: 'I am begging the American people to pay attention to what's going on' Angus King: 'Mueller passed the obstruction question to the Congress and Barr intercepted the pass' MORE served as Speaker under a Republican president. Time and again, she outmaneuvered and outwitted the opposition from both Democrats and Republicans. She is a demonstrated world class negotiator and dealmaker who has what it takes to move the agenda forward. Trump and the Republicans will demonize and vilify whoever the Democrats would chose, but Pelosi has proven impervious to their name calling.

These midterm elections will go down as another year of the woman. The last thing Democrats should do after electing a historic number of women to the Congress is to tell voters that a woman is not equal to the task of taking on an unfeminist president. It is delicious to savor the prospect of these two embattled in the politics of making deals and swapping votes. Pelosi is the best of American women icons in the mold of so many legends. She is fiercely independent, endlessly energetic, deeply passionate, and a can do legislator. She only gets better with age.

Donna Brazile (@DonnaBrazile) is a political strategist and former chair of the Democratic National Committee. She is the author of “Hacks: Inside the Break Ins and Breakdowns of that Put Donald Trump in the White House.”