As Nancy Pelosi, the New York Times editorial board, and the legions of anti-Trump pundits roam the battlefield looking for wounded survivors to butcher, a moment of reflection and a few forecasts are in order.
On the positive side:
- We remain a center-right country. A strong majority oppose "defunding the police". A strong majority oppose late term abortion. A strong majority see budget constraints as a larger problem than climate change, racism, or terrorism, at least conceptually. A strong majority understand the success of capitalism and the failures of socialism.
- Despite losing the White House, the House, and the Senate, Republicans gained House seats, lost only a net 3 of the 23 Senate seats that they defended, and remain dominant in governorships and state legislatures. Prospects look good for 2022.
- The federal courts have been populated with three Supreme Court justices and 226 federal judges who see it as their job to apply the constitution and laws as written.
On the negative side:
- For a time it will be fashionable to extend the guilt for Trump's behavior since the election to his supporters in government and to the 74 million who voted for him. Liberals are circulating lists of celebrities, businesses, and politicians who have supported the president and are thus to be banned from polite society. The divide in the country has been magnified - with sanctimonious glee.
- The people who got us into the mess in the Middle East and thought that appeasement would bring "peace in our time" with Iran are back in a position to repeat their errors.
- Federal budget deficits are escalating by trillions of dollars; it will eventually take a trauma of inflation for our grandchildren to recover from the profligacy of the Baby Boomers and Generation X.
And the forecasts:
1. The twin crises of the pandemic and Trump's attempts to subvert the election will be used to change the playing field for future elections. At present, Republicans have several structural advantages - a tilt in the Electoral College; two Senators from each state; the exclusion of the 600,000 permanent residents of Washington DC and the 3.8 million residents of Puerto Rico and other territories from the federal electorate - with the partial offset that the Census, which allocates House seats among the states, includes illegal immigrants, thus giving extra seats to California and others. The DC Statehood Bill ,which passed the House and died in the Senate in 2019, will be a priority for Biden's core constituency, giving the Democrats 2 Senate and 1 House seats. Puerto Rico may follow.
2. Election reform will be a cause for both sides - for Pelosi, to institutionalize mail-in voting with mass mailings and vote harvesting; and for Republicans, to establish proper safeguards. Both will favor a larger federal government role in federal elections.
3. There will be a crisis in "law and order" within the next few years, as the "defund the police" movement plays out, shifting resources away from "community policing", and toward social services agencies. Perhaps more important, and less publicized, is the George Soros funded effort over the past five years to elect uber-liberal major city district attorneys who oppose holding poor criminals for bail, oppose capital punishment, and will not enforce drug and "quality of life" laws such as urinating in public. Los Angeles; San Francisco; Seattle; Portland; Denver; Chicago; Baltimore; Philadelphia; Houston; Fairfax County, Virginia. The approach of the Biden administration, presumably with a significant role for Vice President and former California Attorney General Kamala Harris, will soon be evidenced as the 94 regional Federal Prosecutors, as is custom, tender their resignations to be replaced by properly oriented and Senate approved successors.
4. The political context of social media will be transformed. Some disparate data points for thinking about the future - the decision by Amazon, Google, and Apple to destroy conservative competitor Parler is a stark notice that a few liberal tech billionaires control much of the national conversation; Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has called the banning of Trump's account necessary, but "a dangerous precedent"; a walkie-talkie type platform called Zello used by right wing militias was used by some for coordinating the Capitol assault; the tilt of big tech toward Biden and the Democrats will soften the pending anti-trust legislation.
In the meantime, for Trump voters the best advice is to keep your head down in conversations with family and friends. We are due for a few more weeks of the media being consumed by impeachment, erasing the history of the administration's accomplishments, potential legal liabilities for the Trump family, conjecture about his future role in the Republican Party, and conjecture about him starting a competitor to Twitter. Before baseball sesason we will be able to see how many in the media have the skills and inclination to return to objective reporting.
bill bowen - 1.14.21