Facing Reality

There’s been much talk about the President not facing reality… and that’s obvious… and unfortunate. It’s already led to street violence between Biden supporters and Trump partisans who can’t and won’t accept the fact that Trump lost in a free and fair election. Trump is fomenting the illusion that the election was stolen because that illusion preserves his power. No great surprise there.

But there’s another illusion, one less obvious, that could prove far more dangerous over the years to come… that’s the failure of the Democratic Party to understand that, in all practical terms, it lost the election of 2020, if narrowly.

In an election where the Republican Party ticket was headed by a lying, crooked, misogynistic racist, who mishandled the greatest pandemic in a century, and whose mishandling resulted in enormous economic damage to the entire country and especially to the poorest segments of society, the Democrats lost seats in the House of Representatives, and so far have failed to gain enough seats to capture control of the Senate (despite the fact that 23 Republican Senators were up for re-election and only 12 Democrat Senate seats were on the ballot). Democrats also lost ground overall in state-level elections.

If this was the best the Democrats could do against a ticket headed by Donald Trump, unless the Democratic Party does a complete overhaul of its strategy and messaging, the 2022 mid-term election will be a disaster for Democrats. Some perceptive Democrats have already voiced that concern, but the loud voices of the “progressive” wing of the party seem to be prevailing for the moment.

One well-known and progressive F&SF writer has publicly opposed the idea that “‘defund the police’ should be called something else.” That author goes on to say, “This argument is the same tactic that misogynists use re feminism and racists re BLM, derailing conversations on substance into pedantic nonsense about the name.”

Frankly, while I respect the author and that author’s work, the comment misses the point that any author should know. Words and labels matter. People are overwhelmingly in favor of the “Affordable Care Act,” but a majority oppose “Obamacare.” And too many don’t know that the two are exactly the same thing.

The columnist and author Carl Bernstein [one of the two who uncovered the Watergate conspiracy that ended the Nixon Presidency] has observed that Donald Trump has ignited the “civil cold war” into a hot civil war. And in war, labels become “truths” even when they’re not true at all.

James Clyburn, the black U.S. Congressman whose endorsement ignited Joe Biden’s candidacy has said, “Make headway, not headlines.” And he’s right. When rhetoric gets in the way of accomplishment, it’s time to ditch the rhetoric.

Several others have claimed that progressive Democrats won, while centrist Democrats lost. That’s not quite accurate. Progressive Democrats won progressively inclined districts; they lost ground in less progressive districts. To obtain enough power to change things, they need to win both.

Whether Democrats really understand this or will do anything about it remains to be seen.

8 thoughts on “Facing Reality”

  1. Chris says:

    Unfortunately the Democrats will be hindered even more in 2022 because of how they lost ground in 2020.

    With Republicans taking more control in several battleground states they will control redistricting again, which will lead to even more extreme gerrymandering that disadvantages Democrats in those crucial states.

    This effectively means the early 2020s are lost to them, and they need to hope they can get effective state level messages and demographics continue to shift so they can win in 2028 and 2030.

  2. Josh says:

    I am far down the rabbit hole on the other side of this, so all I say is tainted. But I respect you as an author and love many of your books so here goes.
    The rather hilarious idea the Biden Supporters and Trump Partisans got into it is amazing to me. Watch full context always, hard to do I admit considering most of the time the cameras aren’t on until something hot happens.
    First all that’s a labeling fallacy, calling one Partisan and the other Supporters is creating an interesting delineation when the “supporter” came to the “Partisan” legal rally to heckle and in some case attack. (I am specifically referencing DC you may be referencing something I am not aware of.)
    Second while some of those people may have supported Biden it seems grudging and some are even calling for his removal, along with the rest of our government, for not being revolutionary enough.
    Finally Trump hasn’t lost yet. Legally I mean. Until the votes are counted and all that certified he hasn’t lost. Desperate? Yep but Al Gore lasted longer then he has yet gone. Is Trump going to lose? Probably. It would take truly horrifying revelations of here to fore unimaginable fraud to change that. Although there are some really fun weird statistics things out there that make me wish I knew more about statistics and that people did this every year for more of a baseline
    And finally given that 70+ million people voted for Trump… they are part of the electorate. They are to be represented. Doesn’t really matter how you feel about it. As a Republic that’s the job of our politicians. Never really understood why people have taken to thinking all the old views died when declared so by some Academic or Politician. If half the electorate voted for a “lying, crooked, misogynistic racist” well then it would seem half the electorate is that way or would prefer that to a man who was part of the American Assassinating Presidency of Obama. Certainly I would prefer Trump to Biden, but I voted for neither, using my voice as part of a bunch of voters and non voters to say it is disgusting that these are the top contenders to the presidency

    1. RRCRea says:

      Actually, there are two schools of thought on represntation which boil down to 1) representing everyone in your district even those who voted for someone else 2) you represent only the people that voted for you. (There is more to it than that, but you can take the kind of civics class no one should get out of high school without passing if you want that info. I only teach so much for free.) The Repulbican Party has emphatically and repeatedly stated they follow the second doctrine. Exclusively. So, logically, if they so wish, as far the Democrats go, they can legally, ethically and morally do the same. Which means the Republican voters may be part of the electorate, but, since they lost. They have no voice. At all. It doesn’t matter if they Republicans win the popular vote. It doesn’t matter if it’s one vote difference. It doesn’t matter if the balance is tipped by just one representative or senator (or VP). The party in power can do what it wants and can ignore the 70 million people like they lived on Alderon. They may have cried out, but they are now silened. And since that’s the way the Republicans have handled things for the past 20 years, it might, in fact, be an excellent idea.

  3. Postagoras says:

    As you said in a previous post, the Republican party is not for anything, it’s just against things. It turns out that this message is a potent one in 21st century America, convincing almost half the voters.

    It’s difficult to understand any positive message about governing that will reach these folks. I’d love to hear what you think would work.

    1. Tom says:

      I do not think that the Republicans or the Democrats have changed their basic aims.

      Just as modern “Christians” no longer apply the Ten Commandments, the Republicans are ignoring their conservative aims and and the Democrats are forgetting that all of a nation’s society has to be cared for and not just those in need. Similarly, and more importantly for any nation, the government needs to remember that their job is to improve the “average” citizens standard of living by reinventing and remodeling tools of government and not the destruction of working institutions.

      1. Postagoras says:

        Sorry, but I have no patience with “it’s both parties’s fault” any more.

        If elected representatives are basically split 50-50 between the two parties, then the sensible thing to do would be to craft compromises. Republican legislators have pretty much refused this since the Gingrich era (see The Hastert Rule).

        Using this strategy, the Republicans have tapped into an anger that has motivated a steady 50 percent of the voting public. Best of all, when they get elected, they don’t have to do anything! Their voters are suspicious of government and anyone who compromises on bipartisan legislation could get primaried.

        This is a huge lost opportunity. I believe that real dialogue and commpromise between Republican and Democratic legislators would be a good thing for the United States.

        As I said above, I don’t know what message the Democrats could put forward that would be attractive to voters who like the Party Of No.

        If anyone can think of something, I’d love to hear it.

        1. Tom says:

          I don’t have a practical answer either.

          Hopefully someone versed in practical US politics will give the US a working response: soon.

  4. Wine Guy says:

    It is time for a viable third party that caters to those of us who are moderates.

    It won’t happen.

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