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.
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.