Opinion: The midterms are over, so what does it all mean?

President Donald Trump answers a reporters question about the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The highly-anticipated 2018 midterm election is over. The results of the election leave many people with questions: “What can the Democrats do now that they have the House? Is anything actually going to change?”

With control of the House, the Democrats finally have some power to resist the Trump administration and its attack on democratic institutions. For instance, the Democrats can demand that the IRS hand over President Donald Trump’s tax returns without his consent. This would reveal, once and for all, whether or not the president has been committing tax fraud (as many anticipate is true), and to what foreign entities he may be indebted.

The expected Democratic chairs of both the House Intelligence Committee and the House Oversight Committee plan to demand that Trump preserve and hand over legal documents specific to the Mueller investigation in order to avoid corrupt efforts by the President to cover up important evidence. Further, these ranking members plan to investigate the firing of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions by ordering the preservation of all documents dealing with his termination. Ranking Democrats Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings are not only committed to moving forward with Russia investigations but also dealing with previously-ignored evidence about Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh among other ethical concerns of this presidency.

While all of these investigative demands bring hope and anticipation to many Americans, perhaps the most exciting aspect of this past election was the emergence of new Democratic political leaders. Candidates like Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams, and Beto O’Rourke touched the hearts of Americans all over the country.

Andrew Gillum, who would have been the first African American governor of Florida, was leading in the polls up until the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate claimed a 32,463-vote victory over Gillum. The Democratic gubernatorial candidate rose from humble beginnings and defeated a projected democratic winner in the primary by pushing progressive issues such as substantially increasing Florida’s spending on public education as well as championing Medicare for all within the state. Gillum has iconically called out his opponent for receiving support from racists and neo-Nazis as well as emerging as an inspiration for Americans all over the nation by acting as a fierce challenger in a highly polarized state .

Stacey Abrams, gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, who would have been the first African-American female governor in the nation, announced recently that she would not be continuing her campaign. As a firm believer in equality, access to high quality education, and better quality healthcare, Abrams was a trailblazer in a traditionally red state and is promising to remain on the political scene.

Beto O’Rourke, an unconventional Democratic Senate candidate in Texas, nearly managed to attain victory over Republican incumbent Ted Cruz. O’Rourke drove to every town in Texas and managed to earn all of his campaign finances without a single PAC (Political Action Committee donation. He challenged campaign financing norms and nearly turned one of the most traditionally red Senate seats blue. His charisma and likeability are compared by some to that of Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy.

There are many takeaways from the midterms and we as a people have a lot to be proud of. Perhaps the most important result of the 2018 elections is that due to the make-up of the Democratic freshman class, the 116th Congress is the most diverse Congress yet to date. Importantly, more than 100 women now hold positions as elected representatives. New Democratic members include the first Native American women, the first Muslim women and the first African American women from several states. The youngest newcomer is a 29-year old woman. As the new representative from Connecticut’s 5th district, Jahana Hayes, noted during her campaign, “If Congress starts to look like us, no one can stop us.”


Maggie McGuire is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at margaret.mcguire@uconn.edu.