Looking beyond Trump, Democrats blew it badly on Tuesday
The country is in the anxious throes of sorting out who, exactly, the president will be next year, and four years thence. America's campaign law lawyers, the nation turns its lonely eyes to you!
Meanwhile, as Democrats yank trash bags full of "misplaced" ballots out of downtown Philly dumpsters, we can glean a few results out of the election tallies that don't involve the electoral laurel wreath of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The big takeaway of the night: Republicans won; Democrats lost, spectacularly so. Oh, and the psephology profession is now dead.
To the first point, GOP candidates didn't just perform better than expected; the party as a whole is poised to make larger gains in the near future. Holding the Senate circumscribes a President Biden agenda from the get-go. Stoppage alone would have justified a conservative beano on Election Night. But Republicans picked up at least six House of Representatives seats, with the possibility of further gains not far. These unexpected captures weren't in bleak areas of rolling farmland — many took place in suburban enclaves that were supposed to house the Democrats' new gentry base.
Every overpaid, bespectacled, pot-bellied pollster prognosticated a rout in reverse: a further Democratic reclamation of white picket fences. We'll learn why soon enough, but it would seem Craftsman housewives don't appreciate the 1619 Project jammed into their children's heads during Zoom class as much as the New York Times editorial team thinks. Or, as one NPR reporter speculated, maybe Stepford wives just want their damn kids out of the house and back scribbling notes off a real chalkboard.
Then there are the Democrats, whose failure contributed to their rivals' gains. Hyped up and flattered into thinking a federal trifecta was imminent by party heads and media scribes, the Ds flunked their big test. They sloughed exurban districts. But even more incisive, it's not totally clear why. Was it the hyper-focus on racial and sexual identity that drove well-to-do voters away? Maybe it was the socialist stalking horse of Biden's public option for health insurance? Or could it have been the po-mo argle-bargle about white supremacy and George Washington being a proto-Klansman?
Have doubts? See some of the headlines from Dem-friendly outlets: "Biden looks screwed even if he wins" via Ryan Lizza of Politico; "The 2020 Election Has Brought Progressives to the Brink of Catastrophe" courtesy of New York's Eric Levitz; "The Left Just Got Crushed" from Damon Linker.
Matt Yglesias, whose orthodoxies skew into "un" territory on occasion, put his sweaty thumb right on Tuesday's open wound: "Trump's gains with Hispanic voters should prompt some progressive rethinking." Democrats lost on their home territory: the fiefdom of identity. Despite five years and running of being called a color-hating, slaver-aspiring, George Wallace–idolizing, unreconstructed bigot, Trump improved in his standing among minorities, gaining more votes from blacks and Hispanics compared to 2016. In fact, the only demographic Trump lost ground with was those accursed white men.
This was never supposed to happen. The Democratic playbook of screaming "RACIST RACIST RACIST!" 'til you're blue in the face floundered in practice. Journalists of leftist persuasion have recognized the turkey of a tactic. But what of lawmakers themselves? Are they smarting despite being under the White House's portico, a few feet from the doors? The answer is affirmative, according to inside sources. DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos said in a private call to members: "Something went wrong here across the entire political world." Rep. Abigail Spanberger, who represents a moderate Virginia district, reportedly chewed out her colleagues for nearly tanking her campaign with "defund police" messaging. House Whip Jim Clyburn didn't couch his words in P.C. politesse: if "we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we're not going to win."
The only Democrat with a sunny-side-up outlook is speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, insisting that the party had a "big win." You have to applaud Nancy's acting skills: she got right up with a smile on her face despite tumbling from the balance beam while juggling the democratic-socialist dreams of her caucus with clear-eyed pragmatism. A confident public face is a leadership necessity; AOC and the über-progressive "Squad" can be bawled out behind closed doors.
The presidency is the bug light of politics, but if you're able to peer around it, the paths of the two major parties can be discerned. Republicans would be foolish to abandon the populist-nationalist admixture Trump goosed the moribund party with. Democrats can look forward to more losses if they continue to support, materially and otherwise, Antifa and urban rioters. Trump-despiser Andrew Sullivan summed up what's looking like 2020's eventual outcome: "Biden wins; wokeness loses; Trump loses; Trumpism wins." Vegas odds on Republicans taking back in the House in 2022 just plumped.
And for the political handicappers who got it all wrong again? There's nothing left to say other than to ignore them, which most Americans have shown they do already. The human ordinateurs were like Olympic sprinters who tripped halfway through the race in 2016 and had four years to train and better themselves to avoid the same mistake. Yet they tripped again. Don't watch them get up; better, even, don't offer a helping hand. Let them stay down and think about what they did. Dunce caps permanently grafted to their crowns would be a fitting punishment, Geneva Convention violation or not.