Rotterdam Rotterdam is an interesting and attractive city. Meeting with an old colleague and having dinner with her family, I walked several kilometers under a huge moon from the western district back towards the city centre and the harbor area, where we were staying at an inexpensive business hotel. There were long stretches of row houses and apartments interspersed with canals, tram lines, and, being in the Netherlands, bike lanes galore. This morning, desperate for a cup of coffee, I walked almost as far through downtown and the zany architectural edifices of the city. Rotterdam has a working-class reputation, but they must be somewhere else, because McDonalds didn’t even open until 10 am. Starbucks had a note on the door apologizing for not opening until 9 AM, and then refusing to take cash as well. There are obviously secrets to the city still unrevealed.
Which seems similar to the results of the midterm elections, as I scanned the news websites. The pleasure of voting early and by mail in the US, is that it makes me sort of immune to all of the heavy breathing in the last weeks. I care. We’re involved. At the same time, my mind has been made up and my ballot cast, so, weirdly, I’m a bit of a spectator. In Rotterdam, thousands of miles away and across the Atlantic, the US elections are a matter of interest and occasional comment, but they have their own fish to fry.
Certainly, many races are decided. A guy with a hoodie wearing short pants will represent Pennsylvania in the Senate and a super educated, financier, election denier, claiming to be a hillbilly, will represent Ohio, so there’s that. Sadly, Texas and Georgia have the same governors, but Michigan and New York held onto women incumbents. Interestingly, control of Congress is still very much up in the air. Democrats may still hold the Senate, though narrowly still. Republicans may take the House, but there clearly isn’t any red wave, so even if that evolves, it may be at the margins. The early count has more than 200 Republican election rejectors elected, but I assume they will not deny their own elections. At the least, it will be a challenging two-years, but it seems the country will still stand, though perhaps not on the most solid ground. We’re still talking to each other, but sometimes in tongues that we can’t recognize.
Here’s one takeaway that I would offer: this midterm election is not a rejection of President Biden and his program. If Republicans and their pundits hoped for a mandate, they didn’t get it, and if they hoped for a widespread rejection of Biden and his policies, whether on economics, Ukraine, or a number of other fronts, the voters seem to have stayed the course without tolerating any radical shift. There will still be a lot of shouting before it’s all done, and the next two years will be interesting, but now it’s a march to 2024, and a faceoff between Trump, the insurrectionists, and the rest of us.