Gary Horton | Election Take-Away: Moderation Slogging Toward Progress


So, what are the takeaways from Tuesday’s most-anticipated mid-term election in memory?

Writing, as I am, on Voting Day itself, while I obviously don’t know the results… I do have hunches that a national move toward moderating government will win the day and voters chose to split government with Dems taking the House. But that’s my educated hunch…

However, I, am certain that Gavin Newsom will be our new governor, like it or not. Our blue state votes heavy blue these days and Gavin is the appointed heir to Jerry Brown, our middle-of-the-road stalwart governor-dad for these past eight years.

I liked Jerry a lot. He had passion and compassion and had no end to his intellect, curiosity, or sense of adventure. Jerry has led a remarkable life – he’s seen and experienced and led and done things most mortals will only dream of. From first training as a Jesuit priest to living in an apartment as governor while dating Linda Ronstadt, to running for president thrice, to being mayor of Oakland, to becoming governor for a second stint late in life – Jerry saw it all. He’s been both our youngest and oldest governor!

And it turns out that “Governor Moonbeam” was right all the time – California did need its own space program. And we have it today – it’s called SPACEX, right here in L.A.! Jerry was, if nothing else, ahead of his time. Tech and space – California leads the whole world!

Jerry Brown was ahead of the curve also in his governing pattern. He was a moderate during times favoring resolute partisan radicalism. Infuriating to more liberal Democrats and progressives, Jerry often toed the line down the middle. He’d kill the stupid bills that just threw away taxpayer dough or endanger Californians. He once vetoed one such bill to extend bar drinking hours to 4 a.m. with a characteristically memorable comment: “California’s laws regulating late-night drinking have been on the books since 1913. I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 without adding two more hours of mayhem.” Thanks, Governor Dad.

Jerry Brown stoically pulled California out of the Great Recession. With scant help from Washington, Jerry became our stern dad, convincing us of a voluntary tax increase, cutting budgets, establishing a rainy-day fund. Not too many liked the harsh medicine, but it worked – pulling our state credit rating out of hot water and jump-starting our economic engine. Today, California stands far, far at the top of the heap as the United States’ employer and producer. Jerry is essentially president of the world’s 6th largest country by gross domestic product.

That’s my most immediate takeaway from Tuesday’s vote. “Goodbye and thank you, Jerry Brown.” Scott Wilk once told me, “If Jerry Brown were a Republican I’d campaign for him.” I know we’re going to miss Brown’s steady, mature, yet compassionate hand on the tiller. Let’s hope Gov. Newsom also quickly learns Jerry’s reasoned fiscal and social discipline.

The other takeaways? I’m betting moderation roars back in America. Going out on a limb, it’s very likely America decided one-party rule was running recklessly and we needed a counter weight to Trump’s radicalism. Almost certainly, America voted to put Democrats in control of the House. Many of the same folks who kicked them out multiple elections ago will have asked them back in – but hoping upon hope that they act much more like a Jerry Brown Democrat than the more partisan variety.

Trump’s whipped-up, die-hard crazy-making base, wanton to tear down decency, build up walls, scorch-earth everything – including morals and civility, and as recently witnessed, disrespect for almost all non-WASP races and religions. This extremism bothers if not scares the other 70 percent of Americans, and Tuesday they voted their concerns. Yes, I’m betting the House flipped because Americans wanted a counter-weight to Trumpism getting too far out of hand.

Built into our outrageously gerrymandered system, Democrats require nearly 6.5 percent more votes than Republicans just to BREAK EVEN in House elections. So, if they indeed took the House Tuesday, you will have witnessed a nearly 7 to 10 percent American preference for Democratic candidates over Republicans. That’s nearly a 60-40 overall vote victory and is staggering, and yet in the actual seat count the election will be a close one.

Clearly, our democracy is uneven and unfair – and that too should be a takeaway from this election. A vote should be a vote in the House, but the system is clearly biased against progressive Americans. It needs to be fixed fast.

Thus, my final takeaway it that American continues to slowly stagger toward progress, stagger back and forth toward justice, and slog forward and backward toward our goal of a Shining City on a Hill. We’re working our way upward, but often get knocked off course, get ran off our rails, and then slowly again begin our long trek toward building a More Perfect Union.

Tuesday’s election was exactly about Americans building toward that More Perfect Union.

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared on Wednesdays in The Signal since 2006.

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