The polls are closed, the votes are in and the ballots counted, and aside from a few states where contests remain undecided, we know the lay of America’s political landscape for the next two years.
In the months leading up to the midterm elections, AFT members knocked on doors, manned phone banks and persuaded would-be voters to support the issues and candidates they cared about. And 300 members even ran for office. We cared. We fought. We showed up. And we voted.
Now the results are in.
“In a sharply divided electorate,” says AFT President Randi Weingarten, “the American people sent two very important messages. First, on a federal level, they voted for a check and balance on President Trump and were inspired by the women on the ballot. … Second, on a state level, people voted for problem solvers as governors and in their statehouses—governors committed to finding solutions that make life better for children and families, and who believe in public education, good healthcare, and rebuilding roads and bridges and water systems.”
Governors who have made access to quality public education and affordable healthcare bedrock priorities were elected in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Wisconsin. And Democratic governors in re-election bids held their seats.
“Working people in many of these states,” Weingarten says, “have faced years of attacks on their rights, disinvestment of public schools to fund tax breaks for the rich, and attacks on healthcare and voting rights. When public education was on the ballot, voters overwhelmingly chose to invest in public schools and stand with teachers, including electing AFT members [Gretchen Whitmer and former AFT member Tim Walz] as governors in Michigan and Minnesota.”
AFT members won state and local elections across the country, in Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin and more. This is more proof that the teacher uprisings of last spring hit home for Americans who care about public education.
For nearly two years, we have endured a president who has tried to dismantle access to healthcare and thwart protections for people with pre-existing conditions. He has blown a hole in the deficit with tax cuts for the rich that have only benefited the wealthy at the expense of working-class families. And he has excoriated all viewpoints but his own, poisoning political discourse and opening the floodgates to intolerance and exclusion in the public square.
“Trump spent this campaign doubling down on hate, division and lies. And in a divided country,” Weingarten observes, “it’s disappointing that this demagoguery helped some of Trump’s acolytes narrowly win in places like Florida and Ohio. But even with this divisiveness, voters in Florida also restored voting rights for felons, which is not just a win for democracy but shows what is possible when lies, racist attacks and misrepresentations aren’t front and center. On balance, it was a night in which a majority of Americans voted for a check on Trump’s cruel and inhumane agenda, and for leaders who will find solutions to make life better for people.”