As more details emerge about the election, it seems increasingly clear that Joe Biden and his milquetoast strategy were the only way the Democrats could have beaten Trump. Thomas Edsall has a long piece today about all the suburban districts where there was a ten point or more swing toward Biden but Republicans still won all the down-ballot races. The country is no more progressive now than it was in 2016, and not at all on board with open borders, defunding the police, or socialism. In California, Biden won big while all the progressive ballot initiatives lost.
When you consider how close the race was, it seems to me the key to Democratic victory was fielding a candidate many conservative voters felt comfortable voting for. It seems to me that of all the candidates who have emerged since Obama retired, Biden was the best placed to captured those anti-Trump but not in any way radical voters. The democrats needed a safe, non-threatening anti-Trump, and Biden proved to be the man.
Against a more conventional Republican, like Mitt Romney, a candidate like Bernie Sanders might have captured some white working class votes, balancing out weakness with moderate suburbanites. But I think Trump had that angry white vote sewed up, so that strategy would not work against him. And other than Sanders himself, who is there among Democrats who could make that pitch? It seems to me that all the younger progressives are more strongly associated with gay rights and anti-racism than with socialism, and I don't see them capturing many Trump voters.
Moving forward I do not see any national momentum toward progressive politics. I expect that Republicans will hold the Senate and take back the House in 2022. We're stuck with muddled, mainstream politics because that is where the country is.
"Moving forward I do not see any national momentum toward progressive politics. I expect that Republicans will hold the Senate and take back the House in 2022. We're stuck with muddled, mainstream politics because that is where the country is."
One problem with this view is that while it's true overall, it doesn't give a proper sense of what things are going to be like going forward.
There's currently an utterly massive political divide between younger and older generations. American youth are more progressive than they've ever been in history, but their aspirations for change and progress are held back by their much more conservative parents and grandparents, who simply outnumber them in aggregate.
But time marches on, and the old guard have already slowly begun to die off with age, and that process is only going to accelerate. The current gerontocracy is simply running out of time, and in a decade or two the political landscape is going to be wildly different, if for no other reasons than because so many of the Baby Boomers will finally be dead, and their selfish and oppressive policies with them.
We've already begun to see historic shifts in the kinds of people being elected to Congress - more women, more minorities, younger in age, less out of touch. That trend, too, is going to grow as time passes. The "muddled, mainstream politics" of the present moment will inevitably come to an end.
The only question is, how will these changes come to pass? Will the older generations stubbornly cling to power as long as possible, like Trump refusing to concede? How many more senseless disgraces and injustices will we have to face as a society before progress comes in the wake of the Grim Reaper? And will the youth of America have to patience to wait that long, before they are allowed to decide their own futures instead of having their elders continue to quash them out of fear?
I wouldn't say that is "the only question." A more interesting question, in my opinion, is what difference will it make? Every generation is the youth of some generation, and each one decides on the social mores it prefers, calls the previous evil, and sets up a new system of values, only to be overturned in its place. Do you call that progress, or is it merely each historical period "changing its clothes," while all the goods and evils of human nature stay right where they are and always have been?
Post a Comment