Once again, the political polls have turned out to be stupendously wrong.
The famously incorrect “Dewey beats Truman” headline of 1948 has now been challenged by an electoral shock that was befuddling to the many experts and insiders who were certain—absolutely certain this time around!—that Donald Trump would be crushed by a monumental and historic Democratic landslide victory. While watching the actual outcome on Election Night and the days following, the parallels to the equally incorrect 2016 Presidential predictions were hard to ignore.
Unfortunately, now we are all stuck with attorneys for both major parties attempting to—depending on the preferred narrative—either fight to preserve the sacred integrity of our electoral processes or shamelessly cheat their way to a stolen victory. At this point it hardly matters whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden ultimately wins the Presidency. The rank stench of election fraud will ultimately follow the victor into the Oval Office, and the already bitter divisions within our nation will be far, far worse for many years to come.
Bigger questions and a painful campaign post-mortem still await the Democratic Party, which has failed to resoundingly (and perhaps even honestly) win the The White House back from a man whom they firmly believe to be the worst President in American history. Moreover, the predicted “Big Blue Wave” that was supposed to dramatically increase their House majority and flip the Senate washed out with nary a trace, which is just one more obvious indication that the learned opinions of pollsters and experts are worthless.
The conundrum for shell-shocked Democrats is why they were again unable to win a decisive Presidential victory despite every imaginable advantage: a huge campaign war chest, a spectacularly supine national news media spewing endless venom at the “Bad Orange Man”, and a monolithic social media landscape amplifying their bitter messages of blind hatred for both President Trump and his policies.
I have a few thoughts regarding all of this—obviously.
First of all, it should have been plain from the beginning that nominating the Crypt Keeper to be your standard bearer was a very bad idea. Joe Biden exuded an aura of frail befuddlement that was not going to reassure many Americans. It was clearly difficult for many voters to escape the nagging suspicion that his Presidency would be just one slippery spot on the shower floor from the need to inaugurate Vice President Harris to take his place, and her own sad swan dive to oblivion during the Democratic primaries, which was memorable mostly for her stammering non-answers to basic policy questions, left many in doubt about her leadership skills.
In addition, a nation weary of killing our economy to, at least in theory, save lives was unlikely to cheerfully vote for 4 solid years of lockdown liberals who seemed strangely unaware that public health policies that facilitate even more damaging national epidemics of unemployment, mental health crises, and bankruptcies are unlikely to win many votes. Add to this their tone-deaf promises to sacrifice yet more jobs to combat the chimera of global warming, and you start to see the broad outlines of inevitable electoral failure.
However, the one issue that likely played the biggest role in crushing Democratic high hopes this election year was their peculiar unwillingness to condemn the widespread riots, looting, and arson that gutted America’s cities this past summer. Few Americans are supportive of police officers who use excessive force against suspects, but many, many fewer like seeing looters racing through the streets, firefighters struggling to extinguish storefront blazes, and masked revolutionaries heaving rocks through windows.
Sympathy for any cause will always shrivel when the peaceful protests turn into violent confrontations, and the inability of Joe Biden to openly condemn rioters for fear of alienating his shaky left wing support was a clear signal to the far larger bloc of persuadable moderate swing voters that they should cast their votes elsewhere. Biden blew it big time on this one by trying to have it both ways, and this strategic and personal failure likely also cost Democrats very winnable seats in both the House and Senate contests that they lost.
There is an old saying that how wars end is just as important as the wars themselves, and the conduct and language of Democrats and Republicans over the next several months will cement voter loyalties that may well last for a generation—and I believe the heavier burden rests on Democrats right now.
Republicans have ably and firmly positioned themselves as the party of jobs, law and order, and the fastest possible return to pre-pandemic normalcy. The Democratic message, in comparison, is a muddle of wildly expensive and intrusive government programs on one hand and an utterly irreconcilable rhetorical support for the overthrow of these very same government structures by their Democratic Socialist wing on the other. You cannot simultaneously be the party of both big government and no government whatsoever without twisting yourself into a painful and pitiable knot of illogic that is plainly obvious.
Democrats need to quickly find a way to moderate their message in order to win back the broad middle range of voters, and Republicans need to start planning for their post-Trump future. If Democrats go for all-out “Resistance” mode, they may end up a fringe party in the long term. If Republicans cannot find their next generation of leaders among those who have been eclipsed by Donald Trump’s outsized and outrageous political presence, they will have their own problems going forward. The months and years ahead will tell us much about the futures of our two major political parties—and whether they each have any real future at all.
However, as regards the days and weeks immediately ahead of us now, buckle up your seatbelts, America. This is going to be an ugly, ugly episode of our history, and we’re all going to be dragged into it—one way or another.