Election ‘Red Wave’ turned out to be a red herring

The Republican Party endured considerable humiliation on election night, as their much-anticipated “red wave” turned out to be a red thud.

It is safe to say that across nearly all regions of the nation, Republicans did not do as well as expected. What has followed has been bitter recriminations and finger-pointing in the direction of one person — former President Trump.

Trump’s is like a lingering cold that one cannot rid themselves of. Issues such as preserving democracy and abortion rights emerged as crucial concerns that deeply resonated with voters, even more so than political pundits in both political parties had believed.

Issues such as public safety and an unstable and worrisome economy remained relevant, but not absolute. Suburban women, a highly courted swing voting group, went decisively Democratic.

Some of Trump’s endorsed candidates were victorious. J.D. Vance, a one-time Trump critic and outspoken supporter, won the Ohio Senate race against Democrat Tim Ryan. In North Carolina’s Senate race, Republican Ted Budd defeated Democrat nominee Cheri Beasley in a close contest.

It was notable that prior to the polls closing on Election Day, Trump went on a premature offensive, defiantly deflecting blame for a poor showing later that night. “Well, I think if they win, I should get all the credit,” he told NewsNation. “And if they lose, I should not be blamed at all, OK?”

The truth is a sizable percentage of the Republican electorate disagrees with him and are making their displeasure known by openly criticizing him.

“Republicans have followed Donald Trump off the side of a cliff,” David Urban, a longtime Trump adviser, told the New York Times.

Over the past two years. Trump endorsed more than 300 candidates, held dozens of political rallies, and raised millions of dollars. Election 2022 was supposed to further tighten his hold on the GOP. Instead, with the party’s underwhelming performance, fear and caution have suddenly transformed into growing frustration at the former president for endorsing what many see as a group of terribly problematic candidates.

Alarm bells were ringing well before the election when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his concerns about “candidate quality” and his fear that such individuals hampered Republican prospects at reclaiming congressional majorities. It turns out that McConnell was correct.

Indeed, from Fox News to conservative gadfly Ben Shapiro to Joe Rogan to conservative blogs, dismay and disillusion was rampant.

“I’m very surprised. Personally, my prediction was we’re going to get at least 23 seats — frankly, I’m shocked,” Saul Anuzis, a Republican strategist and former Michigan GOP chairman, told the Washington Examiner.

When your party nominates charlatans like Mehmet Oz, far-right conspiracy theorists like Doug Mastriano, and ardent election deniers like Kari Lake and Blake Masters, can you really expect to win in a general election?

Most Americans detest extremism. People don’t want politicians deciding for them who they can or cannot marry or love. They don’t want politicians dictating what they can or cannot do with their own bodies. They don’t want politicians deciding what they or their children can read. They don’t want politicians attempting to impose their religious or moral values on them.

As a result, the majority of Americans have voted to reject the dystopian version of America that the fringe segment of the Republican Party aspires to implement. For the sake of our democracy, let’s hope more people wake up to that.

Elwood Watson is a professor of history, Black studies, and gender and sexuality studies at East Tennessee State University. He is also an author and public speaker.