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.