Beginning in 2016 and leading up to the 2018 midterm election there have been an increasing number of calls from political and social leaders to incite citizens to confrontations and even violence. A university president and religious leader proclaimed that we need to replace all politicians with street fighters. The resulting violence from these multiple calls for incivility culminated in numerous bomb threats and 11 homicides just weeks before the election.
The divisive language of fear, hate, and survival required to mobilize people can be very volatile. You’ll lose some people who are offended by such language, and other people who are unbalanced will get triggered to do horrific things.
What we learned from the 2018 elections is that those who promote civility and respect will ultimately win. Among those who were elected are candidates who actively advocated for civil and respectful dialog.
Sampling of Winners
Below are some campaign videos from winners this year who emphasized civility and respect in their campaigns.
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
This is an excerpt from Amy Klobuchar’s appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on 5 Nov 2018 – the night before the election. She’s giving advice to politicians about how to be an effective leader and successful politician serving the public interest and greater good.
Bill Lee (R-TN)
Here’s Bill Lee’s final campaign commercial posted seven days before the election.
Here’s Bill Lee’s acceptance speech upon winning the election.
Bernie Sander (D-VT)
Rather than running a traditional campaign, Bernie Sanders focused his attention on putting people first. Here’s a video posted just two weeks before the election. He doesn’t mention the election and doesn’t really mention himself. Instead, his focus is on helping college students succeed.
When you run a civil and respectful campaign you gain the respect of even those who are your political adversaries. Here are some Republicans talking about Bernie Sanders.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)
As the youngest woman in history to be elected to the U.S. Senate. In the primaries, she was running against a 10-term career politician who had her outspent 18 to 1. How do you win against those odds? You win by relying on respectful and sincere campaigning. Here’s her campaign ad for the primaries.
Measuring a Candidate’s Success
We consider the best measure of a candidate’s success as whether or not they win an election. If we did a little deeper, we can get a better idea of a candidate’s effectiveness. Here are some examples.
In Florida, Bill Nelson (D) and Rick Scott (R) had what many consider a close race with Nelson winning 48% to 46% for Scott. It appears voters were about split on who they liked. When we look closer at their campaigns, we learn that Nelson had raised only $28 million while Scott raised $68 million.
Another example is the Texas Senate Race between Ted Cruz (R) and Beto O’Rourke (D). The message that O’Rourke campaigned on was to accept donations only from local Texans and not from big corporations. That’s a popular message. In general, when politicians refuse to take money from big business, it generally levels the playing field resulting in neither candidate having a huge political war chest. O’Rourke raised $70 million compared to Cruz raising $40 million. Despite the huge financial advantage, O’Rourke lost 44% to 51% in favor of Cruz.
Further Reading and Resources
Noteworthy. Here are some noteworthy observations about the outcomes.
- Scientists – “The US just elected 8 new scientists to Congress, including an ocean expert, a nurse, and a biochemist. Here’s the full list.” Business Insider, 7 Nov 2018
- Women – “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wins, Becoming Youngest Woman Ever Elected To Congress,” Huffington Post, by Sarah Ruiz-Grossman, 6 Nov 2018 at 9:46 PM ET
- Women & Veterans – “Wave of Women and Younger Vets Head to Capitol Hill,” Foreign Policy, by Lara Seligman, 7 Nov 2018 at 12:22 PM
Maps, Charts, and Data. Here are some resources for evaluating the 2018 midterm elections.
- BBC – US mid-term election results 2018: Maps, charts and analysis
- CNN Politics – 2018 Election Coverage Stories Videos and Data
- Five Thirty Eight – 2018 Election Live Coverage and Results
- New York Times – 2018 Midterm Election Results Live Visual Dashboard
- NPR – Election 2018 Live Coverage Stories Charts and Data
- Press Citizen – 2018 Elections Interactive Charts Maps and Data