It’s official (sort of), Connor Lamb will be the next congressman from Pennsylvania’s 18th District. And he’s a Democrat (sort of). In Trump Country (sort of).
See, there’s what we know and then there’s what we know. Know what I mean? And lest we forget, the Philadelphia Inquirer reminds us:
And all this for a district that likely won’t even exist in November, thanks to a new congressional map drawn by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In fact, even if Lamb’s declarations of victory are correct, he could be running for reelection in a different district against Republican incumbent Rep. Keith Rothfus, due to the location of his house.
Suffice it to say that what’s important about Lamb’s victory has very little to do with actual control of Congress. What’s important is how it bodes for the future of our all-powerful-and-infinitely-wise legislature. So…how does it bode?
Even the Republicans are digesting the significance of Lamb’s win, but nobody’s really sure what it means. There are lessons to be learned, but it’s too early to know exactly what those lessons are or who will learn them. The Democrats are claiming major victory, despite the fact that Lamb holds right-of-center positions on issues like Second Amendment rights and has voiced dissatisfaction with the party’s leadership. Several prominent Republicans, always a-spinnin’, claim to be pleased with the results because Lamb is more conservative than the average not-at-all-conservative politician. Both are a little bit wrong — okay, the Republicans are way wrong, but nothing else is new. The important thing is this: as things take shape it’s starting to look like politicians of both parties, God love ’em, are intent on learning nothing.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope there’s a lesson, and I hope the lesson is this: Connor Lamb didn’t win just because he’s a democrat, and he didn’t win just because working class Americans are a bit disillusioned with Trumpism. He won — in no small part — because he’s a hardcore moderate in a political climate where that’s a rarity. If both parties see that, there might be hope for us yet.
Will anybody learn anything from PA18’s special election results? Probably not (but maybe).