A Glass Half-Full

This morning as my wife was removing the candidate signs from our front yard, a man walking his dog paused to comment: “It wasn’t the best night – but it’ll do.”

That does pretty much sum up what I’m sure many of us are feeling today. Sure, we all would’ve liked to see President Trump get slapped down in Georgia and Texas and Florida. His appeals to fear and intolerance supported by lies and bluster succeeded in those reluctantly reformed Jim Crow states. (Although in Georgia, the vote totals — thanks to voter rights sabotage — should be challenged. And in Texas, the results were close enough to show that strong Democratic candidates in that demographically changing state can “turn it blue” in the near future.)

Also of course, we would have loved to see Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate starting next January. But, that was a long shot. This year, 2018, was a year when vulnerable Democratic senate seats were up for reelection in red states. In 2020, the tables will be turned when a bunch of Republican senate seats in blue and “purple” states will be susceptible to Democratic wins. – Have patience.

So today, I’ve been wrestling with “glass half-full or glass half-empty” rationalizations. – And to be honest, in our present polarized nation I’ve concluded I’m looking at two different glasses.

The half-empty glass contains fear, exclusion, anger — ingredients that thrive on, in fact depend on, polarization and endless societal conflict. Other active (but hidden) ingredients that keep things bubbling are greed and a lust for raw power. To many Americans, the taste and fragrance of this glass is tantalizing. But to me, it’s a toxic mix that is already sickening the strength of our nation.

The other glass, which after yesterday appears to me to be more than half-full, contains hope, empathy and inclusion. These ingredients are nourished by a desire for justice, fairness and a respect for reasoned dialogue. Energizing this mix is a strong determination to protect and strengthen the health of our democratic institutions and the well being of every American, no matter what their station in life.

Next year’s Democratic majority in the U.S. House is going to include a Sean Castennumber of new minds, new voices, new energy. The arrival of these fresh perspectives will be quite different from the influx of “Tea Party” cynics after the 2010 mid-term election – the last time Democrats held a majority in the House. Our region’s newest U.S. Reps., Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood, will be joining New Trier’s Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Congressman Brad Schneider, both reelected with job-affirming majorities. Our expanded Illinois Democratic delegation will definitely be a positive force worth watching. 

And in Springfield, under our new Democratic Governor J.B. Pritzker, we should be able to finally see real action taken to begin untangling Illinois’ varied problems. He will have the help of a new super-majority of Democrats in the legislature that includes New Trier’s exceptional legislators.

Although State Senator Daniel Biss is retiring from office, his Senate seat will be ably filled by the newly elected Laura Fine, a respected House member and proven legislator. She’ll join New Trier’s other outstanding Bob MorganState Senator, Julie Morrison. In the House, Jennifer Gong Gershowitz, will be replacing Laura Fine and Bob Morgan will replace the retiring Scott Drury. Both have already displayed impressive energy and ideas in their campaigning and both will be great additions to the Legislature. They will join our exceptional senior State Rep., Robyn Gabel.

Yes, I know that during the next two years Trump is going to feel threatened by the investigative powers that will be in the hands of the U.S. House Democrats. This may lead him to generate some nasty mischief, perhaps some quite dangerous. — We can’t let that frighten us. We must deal with it. And yesterday as voters we elected a number of capable people to help us.

They say “all politics is local.” So despite what did and didn’t happen across America in yesterday’s elections, locally, we should be very, very happy with Tuesday’s outcome. Today, our glass is half-full, and more.

Nels Howard
NTDO member since 1973

A message from NTDO President, Judy Mandel:

“So proud of the New Trier Democrats, DPOE and 10th Dems and all our sister organizations that worked so hard to bring the great results in this state and a Blue wave. So proud to have JB and Juliana running our state and a special shout out to Lauren Underwood and Sean Casten for a very hard fought campaign and to all of us on the North Shore proud to have stood with you and worked for your victories. Kudos to all the Democrats who won last night and a special shout out to our new 9th District State Senator Laura Fine and our two State Representatives, incumbent Robyn Gabel, 18th district, and special welcome to Jennifer Gong Gershowitz, 17th District. — I also want to send a special “thank you” to our NTDO Office Manager, Joan Fishman, for her great work in pulling all of our activities together. Joan, you sure came through.

Last night, we really rocked at Evanston’s Rockin’ Ravioli as the results were posted on the big screen. — What a difference from Election Night 2016! — We didn’t win everything, but getting back our state and U.S. Congress was huge. And hopefully we showed voters, especially millennials, that your vote does count.”

Judy Mandel
President, NTDO