Thought-provoking comments on what the election revealed: hidden sources of hope, as well as danger.
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Today we experiment with a new feature: a roundtable discussion among our editors. In this case, a post-mortem on the election. We focus on intriguing aspects that we feel haven’t been made clear to the public, or that were misrepresented — or missed altogether.
Jeff Schechtman: Election deniers were denied, so to speak. That’s the narrative the media is running with. Every single one of the Trump-backed election deniers running for secretary of state seats across the country lost their elections, save one. But the reality is that many of those candidates lost rather narrowly, with nearly half of voters supporting their desire to wreak havoc with our voting systems. So, rather than celebrating that “voters renounced” election denialism, the media might have pointed out how close we came to utter chaos.
Jonathan Simon: I want to second Jeff’s assessment. The media loves anointing “big winners” (and losers), almost as if everybody voted one way when, in fact, it was way more purple than blue or red. There was an extraordinary number of very tight victories for what we regard as sanity — which means that there were an awful lot of votes for what we regard as insanity. There was no sweeping repudiation or realignment, but it is encouraging that younger voters turned out. Yet, there remains a chilling gender gap (as well as an obvious racial one): If it were up to the American male, we’d be heading full-steam into election denial and fascism.
Klaus Marre: Yup, this is a reprieve, not a decisive victory.
Jonathan Pillet: While the “Red Wave” did not materialize, and Democrats did so much better than expected, the one glaring exception was in New York state, where Republicans triumphed, picking up four seats in the House of Representatives. Although several close races are still being counted, the unexpectedly poor performance by Democrats in New York could be enough to tip control of the House. Long Island went fully Republican. AOC made an excellent point when she said that the Democratic Party machinery in New York state is outdated and poorly managed, a leftover from the ousted ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Gov. Kathy Hochul hasn’t been able to make her mark on the Democratic field in New York, and no Democratic party superstars came out to support New York’s campaigning Democrats. The Democratic failure in New York was a real set-it-and-forget-it situation. And the party paid the price for it.
Jeff Schechtman: Yeah, if the Democrats lose the House, the narrative may be that it was all Cuomo’s fault.
Russ Baker: There have been calls to fire the head of the New York Democratic Party. Whether that was one person’s fault, though, is doubtful. It just seems like a lot of people were asleep at the wheel. The irony is that New Yorkers like to say that their state is so Democratic, and to worry mostly about other places.
Gerry Jonas: There’s a possible silver lining here, though, for the Democrats. There is the argument that nothing could be better for Biden and the Democrats in 2024 than a House narrowly controlled by the Republicans.
If the MAGA contingent has a big voice and passes legislation that doesn’t go down well with voters — like the proposed sunsetting of Social Security — even if the Democratic-controlled Senate nixes this legislation, this proof of Republican extremism could be good for the Democrats. And good for Biden’s reelection campaign.
Jonathan Simon: Yes, that silver lining also occurred to me. Aside from the shutting down of the January 6 Committee — which has already succeeded in its mission of exposing much of the Trump/MAGA rot — GOP control of the House, especially with a wayward majority beholden to the crackpots, will likely be a great shot in the arm for Biden and the Dems in 2024.
A younger candidate, like Gavin Newsom, would be a lot more appealing to those younger voters who just saved our bacon. But Biden will now have two more years to make the case that, whatever his faults, he stands between our democracy and the Trump/MAGA wrecking ball.
PS: If the House GOP wants to install Trump as speaker, I’d say “It’s still a free country and political suicide is not against the law.”
Klaus Marre: The House Republicans will have a tough time passing anything. I agree that their dysfunction will be a positive for Democrats but probably not a net positive since the Dems also won’t be able to pass their legislation.
However, having the Senate is more important than the House. And Georgia is still key to having majorities in committees, getting nominees passed more easily, etc.
Russ Baker: For me, the bottom line is not that the “red wave” never materialized or that Democrats did surprisingly well. It is that this country remains so badly divided into rather extreme camps. All this talk about how the electorate signaled that it wants moderation may not be accurate. I think there’s a swing vote that wants moderation, but a great deal of importance has to be placed on the actual mechanisms of getting the attention of this small swing group, articulating meaningful positions not just slogans, and making sure that when you have a receptive group, you make sure they vote.