democracy protest Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

America’s New Democracy Movement

While media coverage since the 2018 US midterm elections has focused squarely on Donald Trump, a growing movement of citizens and activists from across the political spectrum is thinking more broadly about the future of American democracy. And progressive political reforms have been winning support in some unexpected places.

BERKELEY – In last November’s US midterm elections, voters sent a clear message about the concerns weighing on their minds and the values they hold most dear. Not only was this midterm cycle the most expensive on record – owing to unprecedented fundraising gains by Democratic candidates – but voter turnout was the highest in at least 50 years, rivaling the turnout for presidential elections.

Propelled by fundraising and turnout, Democrats won 40 seats and reclaimed control of the House of Representatives, hitting Republicans with the biggest midterm losses since 1974, three months after President Richard Nixon resigned. Notably, Latino turnout was up significantly, and there will now be a record-high 42 Latino members of Congress. It was also an historic year for female candidates; the next Congress will include 126 female lawmakers – the largest cohort ever.

Clearly, President Donald Trump’s behavior in office helped energize female and Latino Democratic candidacies last year. But Trump also amplified voter turnout on the Republican side, by actively campaigning for the party’s candidates. The Republicans’ losses in the House have thus been widely interpreted as a repudiation of Trump and his policies.