The results of last week’s midterms didn’t meet the “blue wave” projections of the Democrats, nor did it qualify as the total vindication sought by the Republicans. Nonetheless, the results were significant. Democrats handily captured control of the House of Representatives, wresting absolute control of government from the Republicans and opening the prospect of a return to sensible, bipartisan government — if both parties are willing.
Among the significant results was a big step toward congressional gender parity, with more than 100 women being elected to serve in the House and the Senate. Among them are 11 Jewish women — nine in the House and two in the Senate. (Those winners are all Democrats; several female Jewish Republicans were unsuccessful in their bids for office.)
The midterms saw other notable results. Democrat Jared Polis scored two firsts, becoming the first Jewish and first openly gay governor of Colorado. J.B. Pritzker, a Jewish Democrat, will be the next governor of Illinois. And two Jewish military veterans won upset Democratic victories in House races: Max Rose in New York and Elaine Luria in Virginia.
The collapsing barriers also led to the election to the House of two Democratic women who will test the party’s pro-Israel bona fides and the Jewish community’s ability to navigate nuanced relationships. In Michigan, Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, easily won her race in the 13th District in Detroit and its western suburbs. Tlaib favors a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and has opposed U.S. aid to Israel. She will be one of the two first Muslim women in Congress along with Ilhan Omar, a former Somali refugee who won in Minnesota.
Then, there’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive millennial from New York City who scored an upset primary victory earlier this year and will now become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Ocasio-Cortez, 29, has criticized Israel’s presence in the West Bank and called its clashes with protesters in Gaza a “massacre.”
A poll conducted by GBA Strategies, a Democrat-aligned pollster, and commissioned by J Street found that 76 percent of Jewish voters picked Democrats, while 19 percent voted for Republicans. As one of the most Democratic parts of the electorate we share responsibility in urging the newly Democratic House to pursue bipartisan deals that will build consensus and serve the interests of the country rather than pursuing a course of action that will tear it apart. That would include legislation to improve our nation’s transportation infrastructure, further reform to tax policy and the crafting of a sensible immigration code. In other words: Focus on constructive legislation rather than ominously threatened vindictive and destructive investigations.
The midterms were a partial repudiation of what Democrats perceive as an imperial presidency. We urge our newly elected and veteran members of Congress to act on their victory with humility, and to strive for consensus and progress, as they won’t have all that much time to work before the 2020 campaign heats up.