Summary of Day 2 of the 2020 Election

Last night was no fun, but the results are not nearly as bad for Democrats as they feel. As mail-in ballots are processed, with their heavy-D lean, Biden has taken enough of a lead to hit 270 Electoral votes. Pennsylvania is likely to take that total higher. Trump will be only the third incumbent defeated since Hoover. Democrats held onto a solid Congressional majority and might still eke out bare control of the Senate.

Yes, Trump might still try to hang on to power, though it’s unclear how that would even work. Stopping the vote count at this point would result in a Biden win. Refusing to leave office would trigger an armed conflict in which Trump couldn’t count on military support. It’s just fucking lovely that I even have to type that sentence, but at least all the leverage is on the Democrats’ side. If Trump attempts to hang on to power after this election result he will end his days like his idol, Mussolini.

This feels like a defeat because of the wider circumstances. By any objective standard, Trump is the most personally repugnant and professionally incompetent major leadership figure in our history. Still, about 46% of American voters (based on projections of yet-uncounted votes on the West Coast and PA) wanted this madness to continue, the same percentage as last time. The disasters, scandals and mayhem of the Trump years did nothing to diminish the power of his cult. More than just disturbing, the resilience of the Republican Death Cult has serious political consequences.

A few observations:

Susan Collins may yet lose thanks to the magic of ranked choice voting. Ranked choice should be adopted everywhere.

I described the ’16 Election as the Collapse of the Third Republic, opening up an era of disintegration and (hopefully) reformation. We all held some hope that a 4th Republic might emerge peacefully through the democratic process as soon as this year. Those hopes are gone. Biden’s win might stall our reckoning, but no matter who sits in the Oval Office next year, the country is ungovernable. A majority of whites have decided they prefer mass death, economic disaster, and kleptocracy rather than yield the smallest corner of their racial privileges. Holding the remnants of democratic order will take enormous effort and creativity, and may not even be worth it.

Even if Democrats pull out a bare 50 Senate seats, they won’t be able to take bold action on such a narrow margin. There are, however, ways that Democrats could weaponize federalism to bait Republicans into disastrously stupid moves while accomplishing many of their policy aims. Offering Republicans the opportunity to set a greater range of policy in states they control in exchange for letting Democrats do the same could strip from the GOP the insulation they’ve enjoyed, that sense among their voters that the party’s pursuit of stupid public policy doesn’t matter because they will always be bailed out by the federal government. Democrats won’t likely seize these opportunities. They seem emotionally averse to letting states set policy, plus they are slow to confront hard realities. Nevertheless, those options remain. More on that to come.

Black voters rescued white people from themselves, again, at least for now. Black turnout in the Great Lakes is making the difference this time.

Democrats need to think long and hard about their approach to racial issues as Hispanics are splitting away from their coalition. Like the Irish, Italians and others before them, more and more Hispanic voters are opting to become white rather than take their chances on building racial equity. Before you blame them, remember – this isn’t their fault. America is in a ditch thanks to millions of white bigots who want it that way, not a marginal few Hispanics who failed to hold the coalition.

At this point, any failure by Democrats to play hard ball with Republicans isn’t just a bad idea, it will cost lives. A country this passionately divided along geographic lines, with one party in the thrall of a cult, can’t be peacefully governed. A Democratic Party unwilling to face up to our condition and fight is no more worth saving than the GOP. Maybe, just maybe, Democrats are ready to find their spine.

26 Comments

  1. For all the noise, I think something should be pointed out, again. Many others have stated something similar. Imagine that a once in a generation (that frequency may change) pandemic had not occurred.

    Imagine the last 9 months if people’s perceptions of the tyrant and his opposition had not been colored by Covid and the ensuing economic fallout. Imagine what the results would be today.

    The rest of the world sees it. The average american has no use for democracy. They are bigoted, anti-science, anti-intellectual, actually proud of their ignorance. And ignorance breeds arrogance. The stereotype of the “ugly american” is no stereotype. And those people are emboldened. They are not chastened, nor prone to self-reflection.

    Even if Biden pulls this off (there is still the fascist firewall known as SCOTUS to deal with, and the tyrant’s suicide death squads), he is a one-term president, because of the umpteen grenades he will had handed, all with their pins pulled, while his hands are tied behind his back thanks to the Senate and SCOTUS. In the meantime, the fascist party finds a charismatic, intelligent psychopath to follow in the footsteps of this tyrant.

    Democracy may have kept the wolves at bay for a few more years, but the tyrant’s cult and the soul of the cult will stay strong, and rip the u.s apart soon enough.

    1. If the American Experiment does come to an end, I hardly think it’s going to be at the hands of a single individual.

      Honestly, it’s not that hard to see a future where Republicans maintain de facto control of the Senate – and when an aggrieved 30% of the country wields an unbreakable veto over the remaining 70%, no matter what the issues facing the nation are, that’s not a country that can survive in its present form. Perhaps blue states, where the overwhelming bulk of the nation’s economic power reside, decide they’ve finally had enough and call it quits.

      Who knows? Maybe 2020 really was our last chance at restoring some semblance of balance to the nation and, despite a Biden win, we couldn’t win enough to save the nation in the long term.

      1. I have been banging the same drum for many many months. I was called hyperbolic, living in a fever dream, etc etc…Well, after tonight’s latest words of wisdom from the dear leader, guess my views more than “just inched” closer to reality.

        It is not a single person. The madman, as I have said many many times is a idiot savant. Actually, a genius in one regard. He, like Hitler, instinctively knew how to tap into an deep-seated anger that Chris has detailed innumerable times, with its oh so many facets. Looks like 48% of the population is in his thrall, and would have been a lot more without Covid and the economic fallout.

        But they were there already, just waiting for someone like him to arise, just like Hitler after the Germans were humiliated with reparations post WW I. And yes, the fascists, having witnessed what they can do with a useful idiot, are actively looking for the next one, who is more competent, to finish the job of taking over the country.

        I will say it again. Imagine any scenario you can post Nov 3rd. Now imagine that same scenario with the tyrant dead. How many improve, how many get worse? That is no fever dream. That is the reality of having a madman with the control of DHS little green men, erik prince’s merc’s, all kinds of law enforcement orgs, and oh yeah, nuclear codes at his fingertips.

  2. A consequence of failing to retake the Senate will weigh on the Biden agenda. The funding vehicle was a reduction in the 2017 tax cut to pay for an ambitious environmental and educational agenda. That will have to be rethought.

    There was a happy group- the stock market. They are pleased they will get to keep their tax cut and enjoy the infusion of another stimulus.

    1. We may not be out of opportunity in the Senate just yet. Gary Peters winning reelection gets us to 48, and if Sen. Perdue falls beneath 50% (as looks very likely rn), both of Georgia’s seats will go to a runoff.

      We may not win either, but we should fight for ’em like hell. At the very least we’d be able to appoint judges and maybe even replace Stephen Breyer.

  3. Florida swung to Trump (defying Nate Silver’s model) but also approved a $15 minimum wage.
    There is an untapped potential in this country for politicians who endorse the economic ideas of the left but not the cultural ideas. It’s that simple. The reason for Latinos and people of color drifting off is that it’s much easier to make someone dislike you than to like you. When you say things that boil down to “white people are bad and minorities are good”, you’ve given one group a reason to vote against you and you have very little to show for it on the other side of the equation. That was clear in 2016, but any progressives who didn’t learn the lesson that time, I’m sure won’t learn it from a narrow Biden victory either. I’d dare you to keep using the word “white” as a slur, but I have to live in the world you help make too.
    I’m disappointed and in many cases disgusted by the people who voted for Trump, especially this time, but one way to cut into his numbers is to make changes that should have been made anyway.

    1. There is no economic justice without social justice. That said, wokeness, at least at this stage, has a big hole – it has no “theory of us” which can be embraced by those outside each atomized oppressed group. Planning to write about this. Without that, it can’t be a rallying point for a larger movement.

      1. Yeah.

        The way I see it, the two sells of the Progressive movement are:

        > Help everyone be financially secure.
        > Stop being a dick to brown people.

        Because of that, they think when they get rejected, it’s because people are saying,

        > Well it would be really nice to be financially secure,
        > but whoa man, I’d rather be a dick to brown people.

        Instead, it’s more like what they’re hearing is,

        > Help people be financially secure
        > by being a dick to white people.

        Some of that is progressives’ messaging issues. Some of that is conservative messaging skill. Some of that is just the way American history affects how race is perceived. And some of that is nothing more deep than the fact that human beings on average are not good critical thinkers regardless of context.

      2. Today, I’ve been thinking about Equal Opportunity for Each — Each One of Us.

        Thinking about equal opportunity that way may make every policy area open to correction, revision in the name of providing equal opportunity for each one of us.

        Nobody likes to feel cheated, or taken advantage of, or slighted.

      3. Chris:

        While I don’t disagree with your arguments here and in the other post, one fact puts a crink in your argument. CNN’s exit polls show that Trump did best among Latinos 60 or older (59%-39% Biden) and worse as you go down the age scale: 68%-29% Biden among those age 45-59; 65%-32% Biden among those age 30-44; 69%-29% Biden among those age 18-29.

        I would anticipate the opposite as those who would most benefit by being labeled as “white” are those with most of their lives ahead of them not behind them.

        Additionally, as noted by Robert P. Jones of RPPI, white evangelicals fell by 4% in GA, 8% in NC and 2% in TX since 2016. This is one main reason that GA may flip to Biden. The number one voting group for Republicans is white evangelicals and their numbers are dwindling every 4 years.

      4. Probably should have addressed this more. Younger people are resisting this trend, at least for now. They are also abandoning their parent’s batshit churches. I suspect that this is a product of the current mass movement toward racial justice. It may persist if that movement gains steam, or fade if it dies out.

      5. Chris:

        Something else that I just thought to mention. Perhaps Latinos and even African-Americans voted for Trump in higher numbers because they answered “Yes” to the question: Are you better off than you were four years ago? Pandemic or not, it was a very high “Yes” this year. I think this is why the election was closer than many thought and the GOP won House seats and retained the Senate. Ultimately, people vote their economic situation.

        See link: https://www.avpress.com/news/are-you-better-off-now-than-you-were-in-2016/article_b59459c0-0b67-11eb-ad3d-237eb5120b96.html

  4. For the umpteenth time, this is far from over. Yes, in a functional democracy, Biden winning would have already been accepted universally. But the tyrant’s armies of lawyers are just starting to descend. SCOTUS has yet to intervene, but duh….ramming through the religious fanatic was not for just fun. Looks like all that vote suppression worked beautifully, given the Senate results.

    I am far from the only one stating this, even if Biden survives the legal challenges, plus the almost inevitable assassination attempt(s), exactly what kind of term will he have, with an entrenched Senate and SCOTUS?

    Oh, and BTW, Breyer is 82. What are the odds that he dies/retires in the next 4 years, and then what do you think will happen when Biden tries to nominate someone?

    1. IF Biden wins, Biden needs to talk to Murkowski and Rmoney about how it’s time to put up or shut up and fuck off. Assuming either of those two aren’t absolutely human trash, that should be enough to get someone onto the court. If so, then Breyer needs to retire ASAP.

  5. Totally agree with this statement from Jennifer Rubin:” Biden better be on the phone reaching out to Murkowski, Collins and Romney. Through that group we will seek sanity. This is not what I wanted but what we got.”

    Collins doesn’t have to face voters for another 6 years, and the Utah seat most likely belongs to Romney for as long as he wants it. They can afford to do this. Murkowski may be sticking her neck out a bit more, but I can’t see any other Senate GOPer being amenable to some bipartisanship. The top priority for such outreach has to be economic relief for the people falling through the cracks, and reigning in the spread of the virus.

  6. One of the best Tweets I read on the Dem mood said that the Dems were despairing over a probable retaking of the White House because they were hoping for an exorcism. One of the iconic images of just how far gone Trumpers were in 2016 was the woman with the homemade shirt that said “Trump can grab my [arrow pointing down]. 2020 has a sadder iconic cult image: the man with the homemade shirt reading “My son died of Covid and I voted for Trump.” You can’t reach people who would sacrifice their own children.

    The lack of a more decisive repudiation is very bad, but a 2nd Trump term would be the absolute worst.

    1. Denying Herr Drumpf a 2nd term was our mission going in and we can be proud that it looks like we’ve succeeded.

      Regardless, Democrats need to screw being sad and think about what comes next. If they’re not willing to get out there and do the hard work that needs to be done to be a real multiracial party that gets out there and fights like hell for them, we’ve had 2 elections in a row now to prove that they *will* walk away. Heaven help us if the lesson needs to be learned a 3rd time.

      Say what one might about Ilhan Omar, but her team never stopped knocking on doors and talking to real people in Minnestoa. The result? Biden won solidly from Clinton barely eking it out in ’16.

      https://twitter.com/daveweigel/status/1324017435381534721

      1. The bright side, from further down that Twitter thread:

        Here’s a partial list of those removed from WH/Cabinet:

        •Donald Trump
        •Mike Pence
        •S. Miller
        •Kushner
        •Ivanka
        •McInerney
        •Devos
        •Barr
        •Pompeo

        I’d put Ratcliffe and DeJoy on there too.

  7. Unfortunately, Sara Gideon already called to concede her race to Collins. Blech.

    Gary Peters is locked in a neck-and-neck race in Michigan too. Even assuming that he manages to eke it out, Dems would need to run the table in two Georgia run-offs just to win out the slimmest of Senate majorities. Not impossible, but damn is that a tough wall to climb.

    Still, if we want any chance at all of a majority in 2022, we’ve gotta go for it if we can.

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