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Nolan Finley is editorial page editor at The Detroit News.
Voters jerked the steering wheel away from far-left progressives on Election Day and moved their states and communities back toward the middle lane.
In Democratic strongholds across the nation, balloting went against the woke ideology that liberals have been pushing on Americans over the past two years.
“It was a very bad night for the progressive caucus,” said pollster Richard Czuba of the Glengariff Group. “Independent voters that decide elections don’t like extremes on either side. They seek continuity and subtle change. And they’re viewing the positions of Democratic Socialists as the new extreme.”
That was true even in some of the nation’s most extreme places.
In Seattle, where the city’s leadership had essentially turned the community over to mob rule and allowed residential neighborhoods to become homeless encampments, a hard-line liberal mayoral candidate was defeated by an opponent who is considered conservative by West Coast standards.
Minneapolis, which has become ground zero for the Black Lives Matter movement after the killing there of George Floyd by police, overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure that would have replaced the police department with a touchy-feely social service agency. Voters had had enough of the soaring violent crime rate that resulted from the city’s war on cops.
Buffalo was bracing for the election of an avowed socialist as mayor after India B. Walton won the Democratic primary. But incumbent Mayor Byron Brown scored a rare write-in victory.
New Yorkers chose Eric Adams as their new mayor to replace the super woke Bill DeBlasio. Brown ran on a law-and-order platform.
Virginia’s governor’s race turned in favor of the Republican underdog, largely on the strength of parents who turned out to protest race-based curriculum and mask mandates in their public schools.
And in New Jersey, where the Democratic incumbent had a big lead in the polls coming into Election Day, the race was deadlocked on election night. The motivating issue? Soaring taxes.
The message is clear: Big-spending, big-taxing, big-government Democrats who want to radically reshape the country and its communities are on the wrong side of the electorate. That should inform the effort by President Joe Biden and the Democratic congressional majority to force through a massive spending and taxing bill rooted deeply in the socialist dreams of Sen. Bernie Sanders and the House’s radical Squad.
“[Election] night shows that Joe Manchin is far closer to the center of American political thought than a lot of the elected Democrats in Washington,” Czuba said.
Manchin, the Democratic senator from West Virginia, and Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Arizona, are the sole holdouts in their party against the partisan reconciliation bill. If they buckle, the bill will become law and will set in motion the far-left lurch that voters rejected Tuesday.
The balloting should strengthen their resolve and counter the relentless pressure they’ve been under from progressives. It should also help other moderate Democrats, particularly those who will face voters next year, find their courage.
Moderation prevailed on the Republican side, too. Glenn Youngkin, the governor-elect in Virginia, is a businessman who, though endorsed by Donald Trump, did not campaign with the former president or trumpet his stolen election conspiracy theory. Yet Trump voters turned out big time for him.
The New Jersey GOP challenger, former assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, didn’t get Trump’s endorsement in the primary, but he also captured the support of Trump voters.
What’s all this mean for the critical midterm elections next year in Michigan and elsewhere? Voters, most of whom live close to the middle, are weary of extreme politics. As always, they’ll be focused more on their pocketbooks than fomenting a revolution.
“Independents will make the decision …,” Czuba said. “And they pay a lot of attention to the economy.”