The first thing to understand about Election 2020 is that if you think you know what happened, you probably don’t.
You can’t bring a country of 330 million people back from the brink of fascism without a lot of stuff happening behind the scenes.
You need to have massive nonpartisan coordination taking place out of the public eye.
You need to have close attention to the small but important details that confer legitimacy on the President-elect — among them the lightning-quick congratulations issued by our international allies and the large, presidential size of Joe Biden’s motorcade as he made his way to downtown Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday night to deliver his acceptance speech. (“You don’t believe Biden won the election? Well, here’s a Secret Service motorcade that says he did!”)
Maybe someday, when it’s safe, bits and pieces of this story will be told.
Maybe we’ll learn more from a book or from a news story that’ll be quickly dismissed as “fake news” by the die-hard adherents of whatever remains of Trump-world.
Maybe someone’s emails will get hacked. I hope not, but who knows?
One thing, however, should be crystal clear: unlike the wistful assertions made by progressive writers like Lauren Martinchek, Election 2020 was not rescued or “salvaged” by the left.
Nor did the political survival of the progressive rockstars of “the Squad” against Republican challengers in their safe districts affirm the broad popularity of liberal priorities such as the Green New Deal or Medicare for All.
On Election Day everyone held their breath and worried about political violence. But it’s not the left that we have to thank for the normal, almost boring sequence of events that have transpired since then. (And no, thanking the left for showing restraint and not rioting on Election Day doesn’t count; I refuse to thank my toddler for not having a meltdown during routine activities.)
Indeed, Donald Trump was defeated and election-day violence was avoided thanks to strategic planning among the elite political class in Washington and elsewhere that was put into motion months, maybe even years ago — well beyond the pay grade and far exceeding the professional acumen of the social justice warriors on the liberal left.
President Trump is on his way out because moderate rank-and-file Republican Party members chose “country over party,” risking their professional careers by publicly disavowing the President… because establishment Republicans like Mitch McConnell put the kibosh on Trump’s attempts to cancel or defer the election on account of coronavirus… because the mainstream media flipped a switch on Election Day and suddenly began to properly contextualize the absurd statements put out by the President, adding qualifiers like “falsely claimed” or “claimed without evidence”… because Twitter and Facebook finally took responsibility for the integrity of their digital communities, censoring the President and his followers and shutting down potentially violent groups… because Pfizer almost certainly kept a lid on Monday’s blockbuster vaccine news until after a winner was declared in the election.
Yes, liberals played an important role in checking the box that would legitimately eject Donald Trump from the White House.
AOC and Bernie did their parts by urging progressive Democrats to vote for Biden, helpfully reminding them that “there’s no socialist democracy without democracy.”
The electoral college probably would not have come through so decisively for Biden if those who fought hard for Bernie in Michigan, Wisconsin, and other swing states had decided to boycott the election.
And yet… and yet… so much more happened behind the scenes in the lead-up to Election Day, so much is clearly happening behind the scenes even now among the political elite and the corporate class to pave the way for a peaceful transition of power — and the far left is not particularly involved with any of this.
Indeed, the results of Election 2020 would have been pretty meaningless without the centrist, bipartisan coordination needed to keep this democratic freight train rolling.
And it’s not over. Not by a long shot.
Things could still go terribly awry, as the same boorish man who needed to ascend to the highest office in the land in order to learn what he knew all along — that he’s a psychopath and a loser — still has his tiny hands on the nation’s nuclear codes.
And even though Attorney General Bill Barr and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell haven’t done anything overtly unconstitutional in the past few months, recent concerning incidents such as Barr’s unusual memo authorizing the investigation of election fraud allegations as well as Mitch McConnell’s refusal to recognize Joe Biden as the President-elect give us clear warnings that we’re not out of the woods yet.
Can we have a smooth transition of power in January?
Can the dumpster fire that started in 2016 be reduced to a smoking ash heap of burned-out tiki torches and Hawaiian t-shirts?
Out of all the information I’ve digested over the past few months in my constant search for Signs America Isn’t Doomed, what struck me the most was a remark made by Kamala Harris during the vice presidential debate on October 7.
Moderator Susan Page asked: “If your ticket wins and president Trump refuses to accept a peaceful transfer of power, what steps would you and vice president Biden then take? What would happen next?”
Joe and I are particularly proud of the coalition that we’ve built around our campaign… we have the support of Democrats, but also independents and Republicans.
In fact, seven members of president George W. Bush’s cabinet are supporting our ticket.
We have the support of Colin Powell, Cindy McCain, John Kasich.
Over 500 generals, retired generals and former national security experts and advisors are supporting our campaign.
And I believe they are doing that because they know that Joe Biden has a deep, deep seated commitment to fight for our democracy.
Liberals take note: Harris did not say that BLM stood ready to burn shit down if Trump refused to give up the White House.
What she said was, look, if Trump tries to illegally wrest control of the country, a vast cadre of the political elite — an army of the so-called “Deep State” — is ready to stop him.
This moment may have gone unnoticed by many, but for me it was a significant statement that reflects the real structural power that exists behind the coalition that won this election for Joe Biden and — most importantly — is currently serving as a protective backstop for our nation as Trump rants and raves like an animal in a gilded cage, casting about this way and that way for an exit that will save his skin.
What’s absolutely crucial to recognize — and this is where Martinchek and other writers on the left have things totally backwards — is that while this centrist coalition was able to marshal enough votes to defeat Trump in a general election and should be able to keep him cornered until inauguration day, there was no such coalition to secure a victory in Congress for Democrats.
This was supposed to be a Blue Tsunami, wasn’t it?
The enemy’s defenses were supposed to be broken after four years of the Trump Administration, all those red congressional seats in battle-ground states like ripe cherries ready for the picking.
The Republican Party was supposed to be divided and in disarray. They were supposed to be going down with the ship; meanwhile, Democrats weren’t supposed to sit back the day after the election and think, “My God! Almost half the country still voted for him!”
What should have been an offensive that shattered the Republican Party, with the Democrats going over the top shouting “Remember RBG!” and “Science is real!” hit a big red wall of suppressive fire, and in no time at all the extremely well-funded attack that Democrats thought would hand them decisive power in Washington failed to capture the Senate while forcing them to retreat with significant losses in the House.
To most rational observers, it’s clear that Republican and independent voters in swing states went to the polls and selected Joe Biden for president while simultaneously choosing Republicans on the down-ballot.
Meanwhile, on the left, writers like Martinchek are complaining about the “anemic performance” of Democrats who ran campaigns in swing states as though that explains the down-ballot failure. If only Democratic challenger Sara Gideon in Maine could have passionately declared “Defund the police!” — she would have ousted Republican incumbent Susan Collins for sure! If only Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham in North Carolina had cranked his support for the Green New Deal up to 11 and went in with progressive guns blazing — goodbye, Republican incumbent Thom Tillis!
Yeah… but no. All this defensive posturing from the progressive left is just a post-hoc fallacy. It’s victim-blaming. Biden had the most anemic performance of them all and still he won. Martinchek repeats AOC’s talking points about how no swing-state Democrat who supports the Green New Deal or Medicare for All lost their seat in the election, and yet these Democrats had already been elected to serve based on their progressive platforms. The correct criteria to apply here is not whether Democrats who had freshly won their seats in 2018 could defend them, but whether Democrats could build on their offensive and invade enemy territory, flipping seats in contested areas in 2020— and this is something they failed to do in dramatic fashion across the board. They did the opposite, in fact: the only thing Martinchek’s defense of the left “proves” is that Republicans chose to attack other, more vulnerable congressional seats during this election cycle — and attack them they did, using the left’s sloppy messaging against them! — all while successfully defending their own territory.
Is it in any way remarkable, as Martinchek claims, that the Squad survived this election cycle intact? No. It’s not remarkable at all. Her point is based on the fallacy that Republicans really wanted to flip those seats, and they didn’t. Why? Because the progressive Democrats who sit in those seats represent a fundraising bonanza for Republicans; the Squad is worth more to right-wing fundraisers alive than dead, especially when the Squad’s primary focus seems to be wasting precious liberal resources by challenging incumbent Democrats in safe blue districts instead of trying to beat Republicans on their own turf.
Listen, I think the Squad is powerful. I think they’re fabulous. But I don’t know what the hell they’re doing to help beat Republicans, and the results of this election — with the Democrats actually losing rather than gaining ground in the House where the Squad is powerfully representing American diversity— seems to reinforce these concerns.
Indeed, as most sane writers and observers are pointing out, Election 2020 was purely a rebuke of Donald Trump, nothing more and nothing less. Tens of thousands of voters were comfortable dumping the Con Artist in Chief in favor of a centrist white male figurehead, but they also wanted to keep swamp rats like Mitch McConnell and Susan Collins around as a check on the Democrat’s power. They kicked out the Mad King, but they were too frightened by the left to hand Democrats the keys to the kingdom.
What this means is that the moderate centrists — the dying breed that conservatives call RINOS (Republicans in Name Only) and liberals call DINOS (Democrats in Name Only) — have been pushed together more closely than ever before.
The one burning question on my mind?
Whether this turns out to have been a temporary alliance… or whether it’s the beginning of something new and very different for the American political system.
If your partner falsely accuses you of cheating all the time, eventually you will.
You’ll think to yourself, “What the hell. If I’m going to be called a cheater no matter how faithful I am, I might as well go out and enjoy the affairs I’m always accused of having.”
Or maybe you’ll decide your partner has real insight into your character, that you’ve been kidding yourself this whole time — that basically you’re a cheater in denial, so you might as well go ahead and start having your affairs.
I propose this analogy because I’m curious about whether, when the dumpster fire that started in 2016 has been mostly extinguished and Biden takes the podium on election day, the elite network of centrists who actually know how to keep our nation running and who are currently wresting our government back from a psychotic wannabe fascist and his cult will decide that they’re exhausted of the hyperbolic rhetoric and childish demands coming from uninformed extremists on both the left and the right.
Are moderate Democrats sick of defending themselves when those further to their left call them “war criminals” as if they’re in the same category as Pol Pot? Are they sick of pandering to leftists who threaten to withhold their votes at the first hint of disagreement over abnormal ideas about defunding the police or giving free healthcare to illegal immigrants? Meanwhile those on the far right are accusing them of ingesting the fear of children to gain magic powers and shit.
As for moderate Republicans, aren’t they tired of hearing those further to the right calling them traitors and sellouts for failing to expediently dismantle 90 percent of the federal government; aren’t they embarrassed when they have to seriously answer the mail about why President-elect Joe Biden and former presidential candidate Hilary Clinton have not yet been arrested and jailed for any number of fictitious crimes? Meanwhile those on the left call them racists and Nazis as if they’re running pogroms and KKK operations out the back doors of their offices.
What I want to know is, will the moderates of each party finally decide they’ve had enough of the hysterical accusations and become the single oligarchical party in actual fact that they’re always accused of being in theory?
Will the two parties leverage America’s Great Crisis to grow their bonds, evolving into a centrist party of swamp-dwellers who can comfortably torpedo the decaying husk of Trumpworld on the right and the anti-police, I-have-no-idea-what-the-New-Deal-was-but-I-like-the-word-“Green” liberals on the left?
If they do, frustrated Americans and starry-eyed Medium writers may finally get those three political parties they’ve been itching for all along:
- the corporate military-industrial Republicrats, a market-focused party that chooses to rescue humanity from climate change by sending Elon Musk to Mars while making occasional symbolic gestures toward diversity and inclusion;
- the faux intellectual Conspirahacks, a vengeful and angry party of Trump loyalists and militiamen who think climate change is still a hoax and the gospel of QAnon is just as relevant as the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and
- the academically minded Identologues, a virtuous “nonviolent” party that believes civilization must be destroyed in order to be saved and police aren’t necessary once the influence of straight white Christian men has been effectively curtailed.
Well, if you’ve digested my dystopian breakdown and recognized that the centrist Republicats are going to be the strongest of the three parties by far — i.e., that mostly this is another way of saying that America is headed for a single-party system like China or a corrupt oligarchy like Russia with some window dressing around the edges that will allow a few political activists to make money off those naive few who still believe they’re living in a democracy — that’s exactly what I’m saying about where all this hysteria and extremism seems to be leading.
Will a Fort Sumpter moment come between the two extremist parties, either before the inauguration or soon afterwards? If so, who will strike first—the Conspirahacks or the Identologues?
Will the Republicrats try to stop the escalating violence between left and right, or will they simply try to profit from it?
Throughout American history, severe political disruptions and crises like the one we’re now experiencing have created what’s known as a realignment election.
A realignment election, according to Wikipedia, is when “differences in party ideology, issues, party leaders, regional and demographic bases of power of political parties, and the structure or rules of the political system” undergo sharp changes that “result in a new political power structure.”
Looking at the rapidly evolving political landscape in the wake of Election 2020, it certainly seems like something along these lines is happening to the old two-party system of the Democrats and Republicans.
Which side will you choose?
You may want to consider carefully while you still have a choice…