It is noon on Wednesday. Trump has been lashing out, his conduct is revealing. He believes the path to victory is dicey; he isn’t in control.
It is now Thursday afternoon. The fog of politics (perhaps war) is less. Joe Biden is now by most news outlets said to be on the cusp of victory. Trump is still lashing out. I got an unsolicited email exhorting me to send money to a legal fund to contest the election.
It is not possible, using the best forensic evidence techniques available; to identify the volume of solicitation email, posts, letters and the like I received in 2020.
But one thing is clear, very wealthy people decided to spend whatever it takes to create a Blue Wave. In Maine, to defeat Senator Susan Collins, the money poured in; The Bangor Daily News captured the money wave with this headline: “Maine’s US Senate race has attracted so much money that it’s hard to spend it.”
Collins must, on reflection, wonder if there was a conspiracy to defeat her or just a bunch of stupid people, who summer in Maine, misidentifying the local fauna. The polls always showed her behind by well beyond the margin of error; she won by 8 points.
Blue wave? Huh? It is hard to win a national victory on a political game plan dreamed up in the 14th Congressional District of New York City. Progressive? Defund the police, Racism by pigmentation?
The loser (perhaps) was Donald J. Trump. He needn’t hire analysts to deduce the reasons. All he needs to do is look in the mirror. Sure he can hire lawyers, thrash about, but he is now the lamest of ducks. There are apparently people who really like the man, but I would wager a guess that much of his support came from people who do not under any circumstances want a “Progressive” revolution.
And I would wage a further guess that his characterization of John McCain as a loser and his constant harassment of, then Arizona Senator Jeff Flake caused him to lose Arizona. I suspect that Barry Goldwater (the legendary Arizona Republican) who insisted on spelling out his thoughts and plans is smiling, somewhere.
Now I realize I have ridden a hobby horse or two in 2020. One of my favorite themes has been there is power in the center, by which I mean voters who are not ideologues. Voters who might respond to my all too simple philosophy of “efficacy”. Don’t worry, there are plenty of speech writers who can add poetry to that blunt one word theme.
In no particular order here are some other quick thoughts.
The media’s election machinery (pollsters, TV anchors, pundits, and the like) need a gap year. They should spend it in the upper Midwest, starting now. Take your parka. Make things. Punch a time clock. Hang out in the bars (when a vaccine arrives).
Republicans, who have an election conferred title, need to tell Donald J. Trump to cool it. Sacrificing foundational institutions (courts and state governments) for personal gain is, in the larger sense, criminal. The Supreme Court, which has yielded to State prerogatives in this election cycle, should continue to do so.
Joe Biden was never an ideologue. He was an affable Senator and then Vice-President and derived his national prominence from serving as President Obama’s running and serving mate. He will soon have to go beyond those derivative assets and set a new course using his affability and some very smart aides to bring the White House and Congress together, at least occasionally. At least for two years, Party line votes will simply result in gridlock. And in his last two years, he will have little leverage.
America needs a leadership combination in the White House and Congress that can work through big challenges—challenges that are impossible to predict. It’s called patriotism.
But the bottom line is also clear. If the President, regardless of who he is, cannot shape a leadership that will work together across Party lines to take on the annual responsibilities of making laws and appropriating funds, the chemistry will not be in place to successfully respond to the unexpected. Attacks on the homeland? Another pandemic? Hackers taking over the grid?
I close with reflections on the Squad and much of the media. The Squad is the media’s delight, they have Wikipedia fame, They are hard-edged and Left, yet feature attractive smiles. They are most often wrong, but never in doubt. They are articulate and their leader, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), is always camera ready.
The Squad and Trump often defined politics in this divisive year. I would suggest that their respective political parties find more welcoming voices. The Democrats of course have one, likely President-Elect Joe Biden. The Republicans, well Donald Trump will continue to rage and Senator Mitch McConnell will be the Republican’s power broker. But if Trump and McConnell are the Republican face of the next two years, 2022 might just produce a blue wave. Unless, of course, Nancy Pelosi casts a shadow on the President.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.