When Kentucky’s Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes called the 2019 Gubernatorial race in favor of Attorney General Andy Beshear, shouts of joy rose up at Beshear’s watch party in Louisville, at many of the local Democratic watch parties across the state, and in the hearts and minds of a lot of Kentucky teachers across the state. Even louder were the cheers from Democrats across the country who saw a Democratic victory the night after a major campaign rally featuring Donald Trump, and everyone’s favorite faux libertarian Rand Paul, as a sign of the chink in the armor of the Republican stronghold on a conservative state.
As we saw rural counties turn blue in the eastern and western parts of the state it was hard not to cheer, and when the voter turn-out was the highest since 1995, it was difficult not to get excited about voters’ motivation for change. However, while they were cheering, I was sitting in front of my computer breathing an enormous sign of relief. I was sighing instead of cheering because a 5,000-vote victory against a tremendously unpopular governor was something to be thankful for, but it was far from a reason to jump for joy. The narrow victory, along with a few other events that I will mention later, should be looked at as warning signs for Democrats, and people of conscience, who are hoping to unseat both Moscow Mitch and Donald Trump in 2020.
The first thing that I noticed when examining the election results that sent off alarm bells was the showing by Libertarian Candidate John Hicks. If it wasn’t for Hicks’ candidacy and the 30,000 votes going his way, we would have been saying congrats Governor Bevin that Tuesday night. Without Hicks siphoning votes away from Bevin, Beshear’s 5000-vote win is likely a 15,000-vote loss. While obviously my predictions of margin of victory is pure speculation, what I can say with certainty is that if you think anything more than a handful of those 30,000 votes would have gone Beshear’s way if Hick’s hadn’t run…you’re delusional.
The Libertarian Party is made up of people who believe that all taxation is theft, that people should be free from any form of government regulation and any vote for the two major party candidates is a vote to continue a corrupt political system. Their ideology is diametrically opposed to the progressive ideals of the Democratic Party and even the progressive-light ideals of Andy Beshear. There is no realistic reason to believe that a person who is a dedicated libertarian would ever vote for any member of the Democratic party. If they had to choose between a Republican and Democrat, the Libertarian would simply stay at home. Even those conservatives who were no fans of Bevin and voted Hicks, did so because he was a small government alternative. In the absence of Hicks, the conservative who voted libertarian would likely vote Bevin because Bevin was the closest thing to a small government candidate in the race. In other words, the libertarian votes would never go to Beshear.
The second cause for concern is the high-voter turn-out in the election cycle of a highly unpopular governor and the narrow victory of his challenger. As unpopular as Bevin was after his personal and professional attacks on teachers, and as terrible as he has been for the general well-being of the citizens of our commonwealth, he should have lost by a much larger margin. What Beshear’s narrow victory/near loss tells me is that Democratic voters in the state of Kentucky were desperate to remove him from office, but Trump supporters and Republicans were more motivated to keep someone who protected them and their president in office.
To explain why I think Trump supporters, Christians and Republicans are seemingly more motivated to vote let me remind the readers that I was once a dedicated white, Christian supremacist and member of the Tea Party. I know from personal experience that there is nothing more motivating to members of that demographic than watching one’s power, prestige and privilege evaporate in one’s face. That is why so many conservatives are willing to vote against their own best interest. Voting against policies that would benefit the conservative voter personally by supporting Trump, Bevin and McConnel is seen as a necessary sacrifice in order to protect one’s race, religion and the male gender.
The scared white American is a powerful political foe. Those in the DNC preparing for upcoming national elections should look at the Kentucky Gubernatorial race and feel just as alarmed about the probable outcomes of the 2020 election as I am. Political strategists need to realize that no matter how badly Trump’s policies harm the middle of America voter, and no matter how terrible the middle-class has suffered under McConnell during his rein as a Kentucky Senator, as long as Donald and Mitch are promising to protect the white Christian American and the Democrats are promising to put others on equal footing with their white counterparts, the conservative voter will come out in force to support the GOP.
We progressives, and as Mayor Pete put it, republicans of conscience, need to start the “Get Out the Vote’ campaign yesterday. The damage that Trump and McConnell have done should be the first and last thing to leave our lips in conversations. We need to fire up other Americans, and we need to make sure that our voices and our message is being heard on a regular basis. We must stick our head outside of our protective progressive bubble and realize that though we may find Trump repugnant, there are a lot of Americans who see Trump as their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and McConnell his prophet.
Do not let a narrow victory against an unpopular governor give you hope. Let it scare you and let it motivate you to get out and do the hard work that needs to be done to remove the stains or Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell from the fabric of the American Democracy.