By 10 p.m. Tuesday, the Republicans gathered at Stereo Garden in Patchogue for the Suffolk County GOP’s victory party knew there would be victories to party over.
But nobody wanted to get too excited.
As Kevin Smith, a founder of the Facebook page and conservative advocacy group Long Island Loud Majority, said, "We’ve been burned before … When I went to sleep a year ago, Donald Trump was winning."
But as the television screens cycled through returns and the GOP margins mounted, the texture of the evening changed.
They saw they might beat an incumbent district attorney, Tim Sini. They saw they might take the county legislature not just by one seat, as originally hoped, but by several. They saw extraordinary wins mount in Nassau County and in Virginia, and tease in New Jersey.
And the mood lightened, then brightened, cresting at euphoria.
When county chair Jesse Garcia got the candidates onstage and began speaking, one key task was thanking everyone who had a part in the big wins. That included town leaders and volunteers and people like Frank MacKay, who has been an inside political player on Long Island for decades, first as state chair of the Independence Party, and now as a radio host whose show greatly boosted Republican DA-elect Ray Tierney’s campaign, among others.
Garcia also prominently thanked "all the patriots" and the Long Island Loud Majority.
That group’s reach and influence have exploded since they began supporting Donald Trump and attacking Andrew Cuomo, Joe Biden, critical race theory, and vaccine and mask mandates over the past 18 months.
MacKay's radio show has often given air to seemingly baseless conspiracy theories. And Long Island Loud Majority’s posts and rallies can take an extraordinarily harsh and divisive tone.
But the tactics worked with voters, and it isn’t as if the Democrats were playing patty-cake.
One year ago, the Democrats took the White House and both chambers of Congress, along with state Senate and Assembly supermajorities. Tuesday night, on Long Island and elsewhere, they were decimated.
Why does that swing happen over and over again?
Because holding power is harder than seeking it. Because we like to lay blame, and the party in power earns the ire.
It happened much like this in 2009, after Barack Obama’s election in 2008 spawned the Tea Party. It also happened much like this in 2017, but reversed, when the Republican Trump won the year before and the Democrats took the Suffolk DA and Nassau County executive races, and for the first time in 100 years, the Town of Hempstead supervisor seat.
But within this current trend, all our serious problems would take longer to fix than either party can possibly stay in power. And that implies only bipartisan solutions on issues like climate, infrastructure, Medicare and Social Security funding, education and health care can work.
Anything partisan will be reversed or undermined with the next swing of the pendulum and the next set of laws.
That means that the only major initiatives worth passing are bipartisan ones that won't get the kibosh when one party is swept out of office the next time the pendulum does its swing thing.
Of course, irony of ironies, if either party could do that, they wouldn’t get turned out in cyclical political massacres.
Columnist Lane Filler's opinions are his own.