Teri Orr: Too close to call…
For those who were hoping the better nature of our angels would right the country in a singe midterm election and sweep out the divisive rhetoric that has been zinging/stinging out there, especially hateful for past two years, election night did not deliver. Unless … you choose to see the results through the eyes of former advisor to President Obama, author, non-practicing attorney, CNN commentator — Van Jones.
“It is the end of one-party rule in the United States, thank God, and the beginning of a new Democratic Party — younger, browner, cooler, more women, more veterans,” Jones said after learning Democrats reclaimed control in the House.
“It may not be a blue wave — it’s a rainbow wave. … There’s something happening out there and I’m happy about it.”
You could see it on Wednesday morning — the Native American women who won their races … the first Muslim women, the first Somali-American woman…
And this one has gotta make you smile — 19 black women judges all won their bids in Texas. Texas. The women themselves called it “Black Girl Magic.” It turned out to be an entire county in Texas that turned blue — where all Democrats won their races.
Eight scientists across the nation won elections. Seven were Democrats. All smart men and women who can help us understand the nuances of the challenges we face in trying to solve giant problems from the oceans to air quality to health care.
The youngest congressperson ever elected in New York, was 29-year-old Democrat, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — a smart Latino woman who started her campaign while working in a bar to help support her family. Seventy percent of the people in her district are people of color and 50 percent are immigrants. It is the first time, she said on election night, that her district has been represented by a person of color.
Here, in the furthest remote corner of our lightly populated state, and on land of the Navajo Nation, Navajo Willie Grayeyes, a Democrat, appears to be winning, by 200 votes, in a race that still has ballots to be counted. This is a district the ACLU sued a few years ago because of such confusion in the polling places and the lack of Navajo translators to help with the process. Let that sink in. On land that always belonged to First Peoples we send translators to help them understand their ballots because they are so determined to vote — in a country that marginalized them for centuries and tried to take away their land.
Over in New Mexico, Congresswoman-elect Deb Haaland from the Pueblo tribe, a Democrat, won in her district. She’s a 35th-generation New Mexican. In an interview with Democracy Now she stated that 70 years ago her people could not vote in New Mexico. And she is already calling for a probe into the decade-old mystery of missing Indigenous women from her border state.
And of course in Colorado, the baker that won his right to discriminate and not bake a cake for a gay wedding now has a the first openly gay governor. The universe has a great sense of humor if you can wait long enough.
As of this writing there are six races in Florida facing recounts and waiting for counts from provisional ballots. It could flip those races completely. There are three Senate races — in Arizona, Florida and Mississippi — still undetermined. There are five races in California undetermined. Georgia, Maine, Minnesota still have races too close to call. Ditto New Jersey, New Mexico and New York.
Even here in Utah the congressional race between Mia Love and Ben McAdams is too close to call with so many provisional ballots yet to counted.
I come from a political family — they licked envelopes and handed out fliers and put signs in yards. They baked cookies for the receptions and poured the coffee. They made calls and worked polling places. And they instilled in me that democracy is a muscle you need to exercise every chance you get. Yes, they were all generations of Republicans, delegates to national conventions and leaders in their small communities.
I took from them all a love of country and an understanding that justice is a verb. My path to blue came through a national shift in civil rights and the Vietnam War and women’s rights. It came slowly. And proudly, because it was from my own education and study, not something passed down like a crazy quilt where you admire the handiwork, of course, but never want to display it.
Locally, we had a sweet victory that was entirely non-partisan — saving the Treasure Hill open space. It is land that feeds our collective souls. For 30 years the community has struggled to balance our love of open space with our love of private property rights. And with an amazing 77 percent of the voters in favor of saving that iconic hill forever — we did.
Democracy requires we show up and speak out and compromise. It is often messy and inconvenient to exercise our right to vote. And to run for office? Sure, it takes moxie but also a lot of hard, thankless work to learn the nuances of issues and represent a variety of peoples who are each their own special interest group.
Sometimes the better nature of our angels isn’t seen by our wins but by our losses. Here’s hoping civility wins soon in a landslide. It is worth supporting every non-voting day — like this Sunday in the Park…
Teri Orr is a former editor of The Park Record. She is the director of the Park City Institute, which provides programming for the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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“I’ve been writing in this space for over 30 years now, and in all that time, there has never been occasion to write these words: He was beaten senseless by a Polish chef wielding a narwhal tusk.”