The Sound and The Fury, Part Two

Okay, so it’s time to get past the actual results of the 2020 election and get instead into “What It All Means.”

Grains of salt are required, by the way, for this post.  I am who I always have been: one writer, living one life…and a far-from-normal life, at that.  Okay, yeah, I’ve seen and done a lot.  And, yeah, I know a lot about a lot.  But, no, I have no special, magical insight into things.  All I have is a healthy dose of cynicism to balance a terminal case of curiosity, and the willingness to put my thoughts into words available for anyone to read.

Disagreement is fine, by the way.  I welcome debate and the exchange of ideas.  Criticism is one thing, I will add, but attacks are quite another.  If you want to say, “You’re wrong, and here’s why…” I’m on board with you.  If you want to say, “You’re wrong because you’re evil / un-American / traitorous / idiotic…” you can kiss my ass.  In the second case, go start your own blog and have the courage to put your opinions out there for all to read.  The light of day is a wonderful disinfectant for dishonesty, pretension and foolishness, I have found.  It certainly has seared me (far) more than once.

The biggest takeaway from this election is that the extremes lost.  Both extremes.  Look, 50% of the US is pretty damned middle of the road.  All that the majority of this country wants is effective government, and a certain amount of security.  We don’t want any guarantee that life will be easy or comfortable.  We don’t want to have things handed to us, nor to be coddled and “taken care of.”  All we ask is a chance to live our lives, and to have a government that treats folks fairly.  Life shouldn’t be easy, but nor does it to be as hard as both extremes seemingly want to make it.

And that’s what won the 2020 election: common sense and — dare I say it? — common decency.  The extremes of the left were pretty soundly defeated.  Those candidates around the country calling for radical ideas and vast changes to our way of life lost far, far more races than they won.

And before Team Red gets all excited at that statement, let me remind you that most of your extremists lost, too.  Trump underperformed the downballot Republicans for a reason.

Look, Joe Biden was never the Satan-worshipping, child-eating, Constitution-destroying monster the right portrayed, and most voters knew that.  He won the votes he did because he is who he has always been, a middle-of-the-road, unexciting office-holder.  He is no great leader — no Lincoln, or FDR, or Kennedy, or Reagan — but he is, in a word, safe.  That’s why he won.

Biden has no mandate to change the nation.  He has no mandate to do anything, as a matter of fact.  The rest of the election more than proves that.  What he does have is the freedom to work the middle.  The freedom to work with the center in both the Senate and the House.  The freedom to pick and choose his battles.  The freedom to surrender on some, and to fight to the death on others.  The freedom, in the end, to be what the majority of this country wants: someone who won’t go crazy and fuck things up.

This election was not a vote for Biden, I should explain, it far more was a vote against Trump.  Trump made it that way.  In all honesty, his best political play would have been to make the election about (1) the economy and (2) Biden himself.  But Trump wouldn’t do that.  He wouldn’t allow it to be about anything other than himself.  And in the end it turned out to be just what he wanted: an election about him.  Him as a president, and him as a person.

Trump lost.

His repudiation, however, was no endorsement for the other side.  Had it been such an endorsement, Team Blue would have taken the Senate and expanded their hold on the House.  That didn’t happen.  That didn’t even come close to happening.

Instead we have that which history has shown most benefits the majority of Americans: thoroughly divided government.  No one can change anything.  No radical can do radical things.  No fool can do foolish things.  Instead, those of common sense and common decency will have to work together to accomplish anything.

This country badly needs some adult leadership to steer it through the current pandemic and out of the economic consequences thereof.  Neither of the extremes are capable of doing that.  Both extremes have long since decided that statesmanship and compromise are signs of weakness. And because of that, both extremes have ensured their banishment to the fringes of late night explosions of indignation and impotent rage on MSNBC and Fox News.

In the Senate, Team Red may remain in charge, but their hold is thin.  The public will not accept pure obstructionism and partisan hatred as an excuse for doing nothing.  Oh, there will still be voices on both extremes ranting and shouting and pontificating about ideological purity, but the adults in the middle — hopefully, I admit! — finally have the cover and the excuse to actually accomplish something.

In the House, Team Blue remains in charge, but their hold is even more thin.  The Representatives who are flexible enough — intelligent enough — to meet their counterparts in out-of-the-way bars and restaurants to negotiate their way past the incendiary idiocy of the extremes will hold the true power.

In the end, that quiet little voice of optimism I have…that voice I’ve beaten and starved and shoved into various torture devices in an effort to shut it the hell up…that voice says the results of 2020 just might be the best we of the middle could possibly hope for.

Or — and let’s be honest, here — this could all turn into the biggest clusterfuck in American history.

It’s even money, really.

Musical Note — like the first part of this post, there’s no real reason for this song beyond the fact that it’s a good one, and I think a little good music can go a long way in the current environment. And…well…I’ve been asked a few times about the “favorite song” I’ve described for Connor’s playing in Silence. Yep, this is it…one of Connor’s favorites, and one of mine.

The Sound and The Fury, Part One

Okay, I have to do it.  Just one more time I have to do it.

To those of you who read this blog from outside the US, you have my apologies for the internal navel gazing of the political posts.  I promise to do a writing post, or maybe one of the change of seasons here in Yellowstone, in the next few days.  Unfortunately, as the sound and fury (and turnout) should tell you, this particular election is pretty big to us.  Even were it not taking place in this year of never-ending misery, the election still would be an all-consuming blackhole sucking in all of our attention and focus.

Well, that and I’m an opinionated writer who can’t help but spout off from time to time…

Now, first off, my bets with that bookie down on the corner: I did okay.  I quite obviously got bitchslapped by reality with my bet (my hope, really) that this thing would be done and over by lunch on Wednesday.  Technically it ain’t over until Congress validates the votes of the electoral college in early December, so we have that to look forward to.  Oh, we will know for sure who won within the next few days, but there is zero indication that such knowledge will stick.  The folks who won will crow and cheer, and the folks who lost wail with cries of “fraud!” and “stolen election!”, and the sturm und drang will continue…

I was pretty close on the overall percentages, with only a few thousand votes still to be counted.  Now, those few thousand are pretty damned important as they will determine which way a few states go, and thereby decide the election, but no matter what happens the overall percentages will not change materially.  Biden bettered Hillary’s run from 2016 by a significant margin.  His 50.5% is significant because it is a legit majority of the population rather than a simple plurality.  Trump also bettered his 2016 results by a pretty significant margin, by the way.  His 47.8% is also — distressingly, to me — a pretty good showing for the loser in one of our presidential elections.*  And, yeah, before I get all the hate emails and angry texts, I fully realize it ain’t over yet as I write this.  The handwriting isn’t just on the wall, however, the pen is capped and stuffed back into a pocket already (whether or not Trump and his acolytes want to admit it).

*Err…I did warn you all that I’m a stats nerd, right?  I mean…look…I actually enjoy Excel, for pete’s sake!  Analyzing stats and numbers is, I admit, a weird thing for a writer to enjoy — especially one who barely eked out a C in a college accounting class — but, well, there’s that dissonance thing again!

I also got the Senate pretty much right.  My only miss there was Susan Collins in Maine.  I actually like Collins, so it’s not a terrible miss from my perspective.  I should probably explain that I used to live in Maine, and still have many friends there, so I have some personal investment in that race.  I have a pretty good idea where I went wrong, and why she won when all the polls showed her losing badly, but I’ll spare you that level of inane detail.  Suffice it to say, it’s not as big a surprise as you would think to anyone who knows the entire state, vice just the Portland area.

And the House…

Oh, dear Lord, the House…

Plus or minus five seats is no real change.  With the House results from 2018 as a starting point, it wouldn’t matter a bit if a party gained or lost five seats.  A move of that magnitude would change nothing.  Bigger than that, however…

The change in 2020 looks to be bigger than that.  Quite a bit bigger.

The House really surprised me, and I will have more on why that is a good thing a bit further down.  For the moment, let me just say that while the Dems are still very, very likely to keep control, it is a hollow leadership as they will be pretty much neutered.  The House of Representatives looks to be, to all intents and purposes, in a statistical deadlock.  More on that later, too.

Erm…well…

This post is already closing on 750 words pretty dang fast.  If I go on to write what I actually set out to write, it is going to end up at least double that.  Actually, it would probably end up closer to 2,000 words.  I’m gonna spare us all that, for the moment.  I am going to write a second post to focus on the consequences and impact of this election, as I see those.  I will most likely put that up later today, or perhaps tomorrow.

If you’re done with all the politics, however, and just don’t want to hear anymore — and who could blame you?! — then just wait until Sunday or Monday, and I’ll get this blog back to its normal focus on the semi-random ramblings of a cynical, half-drunk writer. Until then, unfortunately, I feel like I have to finish this 2,000 word monster post.

*sigh*

Musical Note — something just to change the tone and remind everyone, red and blue and in between, that the election ain’t everything…

Bettin’

So, every year I make bets on the coming football and hockey seasons.  Oh, I don’t bet anything more than beer money, but it’s still a way of setting in stone my “predictions” for the coming season(s).  It’s a way to hold myself accountable for my own big mouth as far as what I think is going to happen.

For the record, I put down $40 on the Broncos going 5-11 this season.  I still have a pretty good chance of coming out of that one with a win.

The real world is a hell of a lot more important than any sports season, however.  Err…well…kinda.  It’s not more important than the Kings winning the Stanley Cup, of course, but any other season…

Ahem.  Never mind.

Back to my big mouth…err, big fingers in this case.  I’ve expressed thoughts and opinions to family and friends for the last several weeks.  I’ve made predictions about the election, and the direction of the country, but I haven’t put anything “in stone.”  I haven’t put anything out there that can come back to bite me in the ass the way a losing ticket at a sports book can…not to mention a losing ticket with a street corner bookie.

So, well, screw it.  I’ll put down my markers for next Tuesday, then we can all be suitably impressed at how brilliant and far-seeing I am.  Or, more likely, we can all laugh at my world-class moronicity.

First bet — and for this one I’m dropping a c-note.  A hundred bucks says we do know the winner of the Presidency by lunch on Wednesday.  Oh, not every vote in the electoral college will be finalized, but enough will be clear and known to have an actual winner.

I’ll even add a little extra action on this one.  An extra twenty says none of the eight hundred million (inevitable) lawsuits reach the Supreme Court.

Second bet — fifty bucks says the Senate stays Republican, but falls to 51-49.  Most of the seats stay in the same party, with the following exceptions: Collins (R) loses in Maine, McSally (R) loses in Arizona, Gardner (R) loses Colorado, and Collins (D) loses Alabama.

There’s no bet on the House, by the way — the odds of that one changing are just too weak to have any kind of payoff.  The only question is how many seats the Dems will pick up, and I’m far too lazy to study 435 races to figure out what’s what in there.

Okay, so that really just leaves the big one.  As a note, I leave my own beliefs and prejudices aside when I do any kind of analysis.  I’m actually pretty good at that…which, I think, is partly a reflection of why I find it so easy to get inside the heads of so many (very) different kinds of people/characters…

Third bet — fifty bucks on this one, with Biden winning with 52%.  If I could bet margin-of-error I would say plus or minus one percent, but that bookie on the corner, he’d make me lay another hundred in prop bets to pull that off, so 52% it is.

Oh, and an extra credit bet — I’m still laying, well, my life on there being a civil war by 2030.  Talk about a bet that I’d rather lose!

So, next week…

Next week, I’ll either be writing a smug, I’m-so-brilliant post…or I’ll need to borrow twenty bucks for beer.

P.s.

I was chatting with the two folks working at “my” coffee shop this morning.  As I was sitting back down with my newly refilled mug of coffee, one of them said to the other, “He reminds me of my dad..”

*sigh*

That giant meteor really can’t come fast enough.