How Many Elephants can fit into this Living Room?
I don’t follow each section on Repub corruption with one on Dem corruption (or incompetence) to provide balance. I’ve had plenty to say about how the media constantly engage in false equivalencies. I do it to continue my chronicle of how this election in its entirety is merely one example of the ongoing collapse of the myth of American innocence, and of how privileged segments of our population continue to try and shore up the cracks in its façade.
We have to address some basic questions: Why didn’t the biggest turnout in history – during a recession, no less – sweep the Republicans away? Why (once again) didn’t the Democrats clobber this buffoon in massive landslides at every level? What happened to the expected “blue wave”? Why (once again) were the polls so wrong? Why did millions of people – especially in California – split their ballots, rejecting Trumpus but re-electing Republicans who supported his policies, despite the Democrats having spent over a billion dollars on Senate races? Why did 72 million people vote for Trumpus? (We’ll see: perhaps they didn’t).
Some have cited “hidden Trumpers” for the inaccurate polls. I’ve already argued against that idea, and this time it’s even less possible to use it as an excuse, because so many people voted by mail and could not be questioned in exit polls. (We should also recall Greg Palast’s research indicating that 20% of mail-in ballots are rejected.) So we can no longer study the discrepancies between official results and exit polls. This is very significant, because it is now harder to find indications of computer fraud. In fact, we should now reject the whole idea of exit polling, along with any trust in the scientific part of “Political Science.” Once the final results are published, we may be able to compare them to pre-election polls and speculate further. Meanwhile, here are some theories:
1 – Many of the Dem losses were by freshman congresspeople in essentially blue districts, where the Repubs, who cared less about Trumpus and more about Congress, had a much stronger presence on the ground and the Dems limited canvassing because of the Coronavirus.
2 – The government provided enhanced unemployment benefits and stimulus checks (even if it established no taxes to pay for them) to millions of households. As a result, 40% of voters thought they were better off financially than they were four years ago.
3 – Remember the “Lincoln Project” with their witty attack ads, expensive stunts (including a Times Square billboard in the uncontested locale of Manhattan) and promises to win over moderates? David Sirota suggests this was yet another con job that “convinced liberals to give them more money…than was raised by the Democratic Party’s national campaign to win state legislatures.” The result: Trumpus actually increased his share of the Republican vote and won a higher percentage of white women, compared to 2016. At best, such waste of resources convinced some moderates to reject Trumpus personally and then vote red all the rest of the way. Good for Biden, bad for the nation.
4 – Michael Bloomberg and other olligarchs donated hundreds of millions to attack Trumpus personally but little to activists on the ground, especially in Florida. Nadia Ahmad writes that this was a result of “…a deliberate decision by the leadership of the Florida Democratic Party to ignore and sideline Black, Latino, AAPI, immigrant, and Muslim voters.”
5 – The Dems allowed the Repubs to frame the “defund the police” issue into their usual “law and order” fearmongering, which certainly impacted white women. Good for Biden, bad for the nation.
6 – Matt Taibbi writes that the Dems are no longer the party of the working class:
Trump won with the sort of people who do not read The Washington Post or watch MSNBC, and disagreed with their myths…As Missouri Republican Josh Hawley put it the night of the election, “We are a working-class party now. That’s the future.”
There is some truth here, but Taibbi makes a common mistake, equating the “working class” with the white working class and not including people of color in that group. In fact, Biden’s lead among POC was about the same as Clinton’s in 2016, and it was much greater among young people. And what about that “working class” vote? Jim Naureckas suggests that we follow the money:
It’s true that Trump does 15 percentage points better among white voters without college degrees than with them—but what if class involves not just education, but money? Among the almost three-fourths of voters whose households make less than $100,000 a year, Trump trails badly: Biden showed a 15-point lead…among those who make less than $50,000 and was 13 points ahead…with the $50,000–$99,999 bracket. Only among the wealthiest quarter did Trump have a lead, winning $100,000+ households 54% to 43%.
The power brokers, aided by the usual media gatekeepers, were very quick to blame the left for their losses (as I predicted they would do). Centrist Abigail Spanberger, one of several retired CIA officers in Congress, was particularly vocal. (Hint: there is no such thing as a “retired” CIA officer. Another hint: the DNC listens very carefully to “retired” CIA officers.)
Progressives, on the other hand, argue that in fact it was their on-the-ground organizing that brought out the urban vote and actually won the swing states, despite the party’s refusal to address economic inequality and other class issues. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted:
Anyone saying this after immigrant organizers delivered AZ, Black grassroots flipped Georgia, MI going blue w reality-bending 94% Detroit margin + @RashidaTlaib running up the margins in her district & Trump publicly challenging @IlhanMN in MN and losing isn’t a serious person.
Biden certainly shot himself (or the party) in the foot by stubbornly refusing to support Medicare for All. Even Fox News acknowledged that 72% of all voters supported it. But if the millions – overwhelmingly Democratic – who voted by mail had been polled, that number would certainly be much higher. Voters favored “bread and butter” progressive issues in many places. Colorado voted to provide 12 weeks of paid family leave. Arizona voted to increase taxes on the rich. Voters in four states approved legalizing marijuana. Even Mississippi legalized medical cannabis.
“The Squad” of progressive congresswomen doubled in size. Every congressional member who ran for reelection while supporting Medicare for All won their respective race, even if their district supported Trumpus. Altogether, 112 co-sponsors were on the ballot and all of them won their races. 98 co-sponsors of the Green New Deal were on the ballot and only one lost. Apparently, most of the Dem losses were by centrists who once again had attempted to use the old, failed tactic of ignoring the economy and appealing to moderates.
But the mystery remains. As in any good myth, we are left with more questions than answers:
1 – How many Dem votes were suppressed, purged, rejected or flipped? We know that over 300,000 ballots were checked into the mail system but not checked out of it. When a federal judge ordered USPS officials to sweep 27 processing centers for the missing ballots, they simply refused.
2 – How many votes did Trumpus actually receive? Either his official total of 72 million is real, or there was massive computer fraud. We can’t come to any conclusions on this because nobody polled the mail-in voters. But, true to form, Trumpus has already accused the Dems of flipping electronic ballots; and another thing we know is that whenever he accuses anyone of doing something illegal or unethical, we can be sure that it’s something he and the Repubs are already doing.
3 – Despite the record turnout, how many people still saw no difference between the parties and didn’t bother to vote?
4 – Was the massive increase in early voting mostly in safely blue states and therefore of little importance in red states?
5 – What happened to the predicted greatest gender gap in history? Did women (white women) actually reject a woman (a Black woman) Vice President?
6 – Why did immense numbers of people who favored progressive causes also vote for Trumpus? In Florida the proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr won by a landslide – 60% of the state’s 11 million votes, or 6,600,000 votes (in 2018, 65% had voted to restore voting rights to ex-felons). Trumpus received 51.2%, or 5,640,000 votes. That means that over a million Floridians voted for raising the minimum wage but also for Trumpus. We might understand this if pre-election pollsters had asked questions like this: “If you vote for Biden, will you also support the other Dems on the ballot — or vice versa?”
I think it’s safe to say that election commissioners in most of those 26 Repub-controlled states gamed the electronic voting machines to flip five percent of the votes, enough to retain the Senate and several congressional seats. But that still leaves Trumpus with over 65 million votes. Indeed, if we factor out California, the vote split nearly 50-50.
And millions of “moderates” were so unimpressed with Biden’s brand of liberalism that, even as they expressed their personal disgust with Trumpus, they still preferred conservative economic policies, male supremacy and outright racism.
In other words, the politics of fear always trump touchy-feely liberalism when it isn’t backed by strong, progressive policy. And the DNC, made immensely rich by its contributors, simply doesn’t care. As Chris Hedges writes:
If there is one group that deserves our deepest contempt it is the liberal elites, those who posture as the moral arbiters of society while abandoning every value they purportedly hold the moment they become inconvenient…Biden’s campaign was utterly bereft of ideas and policy issues, as if he and the Democrats could sweep the elections by promising to save the soul of America.
There’s no point telling the Democratic establishment that Bernie would have won. They know Bernie would have won. That’s why they stopped him.
Realistic cynicism vs reframing:
The likely situation in 2021 is a perfect, wet-dream scenario for the national security state and the oligarchy. Even if the Dems prevail in the Georgia runoffs and take control of the Senate, Biden will change nothing in foreign policy but will still be responsible for any major blunders. And if he faces a hostile Senate, he’ll fail to pass any useful domestic legislation, but he’ll be able to blame the Repubs rather than his own lack of vision. He’ll have a perfect excuse for not being able to stack the Supreme Court or push statehood for Puerto Rico or the District of Columbia.
And, since members of the Cabinet are subject to confirmation by the Senate, Mitch McConnell will ultimately decide who Biden can pick, and not only members of the Cabinet. A President gets some 4,000 appointments, but 1,200 of them must be confirmed by the Senate. Four years of ineffectiveness will lead to a Republican takeover of the House in 2024.
The reframe: The Dems win both runoffs in Georgia and flip the Senate. Biden (who has already pledged to be a one-term president) realizes that he’s too old to be intimidated by the corporate power brokers anymore, and actually does what the public wants. He cuts the defense budget and completely withdraws from the Middle East. He comes out for Medicare for All, appoints dozens of federal judgeships, stacks the Supreme Court – thus saving abortion and LGBTQ rights – and offers statehood to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, thus ensuring the progressive agenda for decades.
Hey, why not? May it be so. Next, Part Sixteen: Are Americans are just plain stupid? If we are, why?