Donald Trump may end up losing the 2020 election in the Electoral College, but he won the campaign that ended on Nov. 3. Democrats had been talking of a “sweep,” a “blowout,” a “blue wave” washing the Republicans out of power, capturing the Senate, and bringing in an enlarged Democratic majority in Nancy Pelosi’s House. They visualized the ouster of Trump in a defeat so massive and humiliating that it would serve as an eternal repudiation of the man. And, most intoxicating of all, they believed they would be seen by history as the angels of America’s deliverance. It was not to be.
The American electorate failed to perform its designated role in the establishment’s morality play. Indeed, Democrats ended Tuesday night terrified that America had again turned its back on them and preferred Trump to the leaders and agenda they had put forth. By the campaign’s end, Democrats were freezing the ball and running out the clock.
Consider the immense burdens candidate Trump had to carry. Early in his reelection year, the nation was struck by the worst pandemic in a hundred years that, by Election Day, would kill nearly a quarter of a million Americans and cause an economic collapse to rival the Great Depression. Trump had to endure daily the near-universal hatred and hostility of the nation’s academic, media, and cultural elites. How hostile is this city to President Trump? He lost D.C.’s three electoral votes by a margin of 20-1.
Yet, even so burdened, Trump won 3 million more votes in 2020 than he had in 2016, and, as of midnight on Election Day, he seemed headed for victory in the Electoral College. Giving the energy and effort he put into his campaign—a dozen rallies in the last three days—and the enthusiastic response from the huge crowds, Trump has much to be proud of.
Trump may lose the presidency, but Trumpism was not rejected. Nor was it repudiated by the people if, by Trumpism, one means “America First” nationalism, securing our borders, using tariffs to bring back our manufacturing base, bidding goodbye to globalism, staying out of unnecessary wars, and swearing off ideological crusades.
And if Joe Biden becomes our 46th president, the tenure of office of this visibly frail and enfeebled leader is likely to be among the more abbreviated in American history and bereft of high achievement. For Democrats appear to have lost seats in Nancy Pelosi’s House, and, instead of sweeping to power in the Senate to make Chuck Schumer the new majority leader, Senate Democrats appear to have gained only a single seat. As of now, Sen. Mitch McConnell is set to be the gatekeeper to any passage of the Biden-Harris and Sanders-AOC agendas.
Good luck getting something enacted that Mitch McConnell doesn’t like. As of today, the 2020 election has restored to Senate Republicans veto power over any and all administration legislation, be it liberal, progressive or socialist. This election may have made McConnell the most powerful congressional leader since Lyndon Johnson.
With McConnell leading a GOP majority, Democrats would be unable to end the filibuster or pack the Supreme Court, and the GOP majority would have the power to kill the Biden tax plan, “Medicare for All” and the “Green New Deal.” There will be no statehood and two senators for Puerto Rico or D.C., and no reparations for slavery. Mayors and governors seeking blue state bailouts to avoid defaulting on overdue debts will need McConnell’s blessing.
In times past, there was often comity between the parties, or at least an attempt at comity. In mid-August of 1974, after he took office, President Gerald Ford went before Congress to declare: “I do not want a honeymoon with you. I want a good marriage.” It was not to be. And in the ideological divide and poisoned politics of this city, there is little likelihood of compromise—or even civility.
Biden faces other troubles, too. The worst of the COVID-19 crisis, in terms of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, may be ahead of us. And Democrats will not be able to blame Trump indefinitely. And if their answer is, as Joe Biden has at times indicated, a national “shutdown,” a Biden honeymoon is unlikely to last.
Bottom line: Joe Biden is not going to be the “transformational” president of his imagining. Nor is he going to be the “most progressive president since Roosevelt” as some Democrats have been promising. And the reasons are obvious.
FDR had massive Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress throughout the 1930s. And he won the presidency in 1932 by capturing 57 percent of the vote and 42 of the 48 states of the Union. In 1936, he carried 46 of 48 states, losing only Maine and Vermont.
Biden has no such mandate and no such power base, and he lacks the natural gifts of FDR. Sorry, but there is no new “Era of Good Feelings” in store for America. To the contrary.
above: Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the Prescott Valley Event Center in Prescott Valley, Arizona. [Image by: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons, cropped and resized]
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