Now that the midterms are almost over, it’s safe to admit that the purported Red Wave never materialized. And while, in a surprising turn of events, Republicans were mostly gracious in defeat, there were still a few who refuse to accept the results if they lose. These election deniers -- let’s call them “political Karens” -- are demanding recounts, creating controversy and spreading the inevitable conspiracy theories about voter fraud.
"Karens" is the term that applies to those who accuse others, usually people of color, of some sort of illegal activity when they are doing normal, everyday things such as watering plants, bird watching or even jogging. When it comes to politics, these Karens are creating issues centered around elections where they disagree with the outcome.
That’s not to say they are harmless. They were at the center of the January 6th insurrection. When Kevin McCarthy “joked” that he would try to resist the temptation to hit House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the head with the Speaker’s gavel if Republicans retook the House at the midterms, it was eerily prescient when that is exactly what happened when her husband was attacked by someone who believed the Big Lie.
There are political Karens all around us. While many are easy to spot because of their red MAGA hats, there are others who aren’t so obvious. If the insurrection showed us anything, it’s that they have infiltrated law enforcement, the military, the clergy and pretty much every other walk of life. Those arrested for their participation and violent acts during those fateful hours represent a wide spectrum of the American population.
Karens in Congress
Should Republicans retake the House of Representatives they will be forced to negotiate with the Karens within their own ranks. These election deniers will undoubtedly demand investigations into the Biden administration as they seek revenge for the perceived wrongs done with the dual impeachments of previous administration. They will try, and likely succeed, in grinding Washington to a halt as they create an atmosphere of chaos to prevent anything positive from happening during the next two years in an effort to sabotage Biden’s potential re-election.
So whoever gets the Speaker’s gavel, since Kevin McCarthy is no longer a lock for the position, they will be only too happy to let the Karens rule. They will express their fake outrage over the soon-to-be disbanded January 6th Committee while creating controversy over Hunter Biden’s laptop, the FBI’s role in the Mar-a-Lago “raid” and America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. They will demand concessions to continue providing Ukraine with the means to defend itself from Russian aggression.
Fortunately, Democrats have retained their majority in the Senate which will blunt the headaches Karens like Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Rand Paul and others will inflict to slow the judicial appointments and cabinet nominations that are characteristic of the second half of a president’s time in office. They can certainly slow things down, but they cannot stop these important actions from happening.
Karens in Congress are more interested preventing progress than they are doing what their constituents elected them to do.
Dems Midterm Gamble
When the Democrats started funneling campaign dollars to Republicans, it had many shaking their heads. They were taking the gamble that weaker opponents would be easier to defeat which resulted in a lot of hand-wringing as Election Day approached. Democrats were risking putting the most-MAGA leaning candidates in positions that would allow them to overturn election results on little more than a whim that there could have been some irregularities.
It’s a move that could have proved fatal for the Democrats and indeed democracy as a whole. Inflation was at its highest rate in 40 years. There were claims Democrats wanted to defund the police and Joe Biden’s favorability ratings were dangerously low. It was sowing the seeds for a Red Wave with Republicans overwhelmingly taking over both the House and the Senate, likely paving the way for Donald Trump to mount another assault on democracy.
Then, the Democrats got an assist from the most unlikeliest of sources: the ultra-Conservative Supreme Court. When they struck down Roe v Wade, effectively eliminating a woman’s right to an abortion, it gave Democrats a cornerstone issue on which to campaign.
They got further help from South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham. Republicans had been trying to assuage Democrats' fears by saying they would not support a national abortion ban only to have Graham sabotage their efforts by introducing a bill that would do that very thing.
That was just enough motivation to prevent the predicted Red Wave. The Ultra-MAGA Karens were defeated as Democrats maintained control of the Senate and, more importantly, the crucial Secretaries of State positions that are the key to certification of election results.
In a dramatic change of heart, many Republicans who were defeated graciously acknowledged their opponent’s victory. Yet there were still a few Karens who refused to accept the results. In Arizona, Blake Masters is demanding a do-over as he is defeated by incumbent Mark Kelly, while Kari Lake is refusing to say if she will accept the results if her opponent, Katie Hobbs, garners more votes or armed protesters from hanging outside the centers where votes are being counted. And in Pennsylvania, Super Karen Douglas Mastriano is likewise refusing to concede.
So, with a dangerous gamble, the Karens were denied.
The Biggest (Loser) Karen
Parties on both sides are placing the blame for Republican losses squarely on the doorstep of Donald Trump. By forcing them to support lesser-qualified MAGA candidates, they were easily defeated in most cases.
Trump being Trump, he made the most Karenesque statement of all. In the ultimate effort to have his cake and eat it too, he went on national television to declare, “If they win, I should get all the credit. And if they lose, I should not be blamed at all.”
The Yiddish term for that is chutzpah. A more accurate label would be being the epitome of a political Karen. Wanting all the credit while accepting none of the blame is the most Karen thing possible.
Being the Biggest Karen means Trump won’t acknowledge any wrongdoing. He’s a man of few, simple words, labeling any time he’s called out a “Witch Hunt”. He can’t even come up with an original expression to describe his most recent transgressions.
Yet somehow he continues to dupe millions with his outrageousness. Their devotion knows no bounds. He admitted to sexual assault, and still lost no ground. He was impeached twice, yet was given a pass by spineless Republicans. And, despite having the worst midterm showing of any opposition party in recent history, he is poised to announce yet another bid for the White House soon after these disastrous defeats.
It also means there is no bottom to his depravity. There is no baseless allegation, no childish nickname, no perceived insult he won’t use to vilify, intimidate or shame those he sees as opposing him. Whether it’s a derogatory accusation or a racist label, Trump has repeatedly used his position to his own benefit.
It’s time to retire Karen, both political and otherwise. We need to restore honesty and dignity to our political dialogue.