Closing days of nationwide elections always fascinate me. This year, the intensity of calling citizens to the voting booth seems greater.
It’s the division, I think. The idea of bringing people together in a common cause seems workable only on a bifurcated basis. Republicans hold one set of views and Democrats another on Biden’s performance, abortion, education, the environment, crime and a whole range of other issues. At least, this seems to be the case.
Over the weekend, I heard President Obama ask a crowd in Pittsburgh, “….who will fight for you.” It’s a good question to ask, but the answer varies considerably between members of the two major parties and independents.
No more clear evidence of this presented itself to me than in a recent national survey measuring the approval rating of President Biden. In this poll, the overall approval number was 43%. However, looking inside that number tells the story. 83% of Democrats approved of Biden’s performance. 35% of Independents approved, but think that the economy and crime are the most important issues mirroring Republican sentiments. And, only 9% of Republicans approved of Biden’s performance.
So, the President who announced after his election he would bring us together, seems to have traveled a path that has us further apart than ever.
It is very difficult to see how this week’s election will alter the current reality very much. In fact, a White House lead by one party with the Congress lead by the other party seems a formula for only greater division.
Indeed, in the House, the likely-to-be-next Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, is laying plans for investigations and legislation to rollback what President Biden has tried to do. Few Republican legislative initiatives running counter to the views of leading Democrats will survive the veto pen in the Oval Office; but, few initiatives from the Administration are likely to be accepted by the new Congress.
So, is there a better path forward?
Spoiler alert: Al From and I spoke about this in our From & Fuller predictions in The Spy commentary last week.
From my perspective, we need leaders to emerge and vitriol to be submerged.
One way to get there would be for President Biden, following the final results of the 2022 election, to determine whether or not he can successfully govern in the final two years of his term if he faces Republican majorities in the House or the Senate or both while simultaneously launching a national re-election campaign for the presidency.
I, for one, think it cannot be done. If, however, President Biden would withdraw from campaigning he would no longer be the largest target of Republican leaders. And, new leaders would need to step forward among Democrats who would be less likely to challenge a sitting President of their own party.
A set of new faces among Democrats would surely increase the number of Republican leaders stepping up challenging a return to the past (something that many of us would truly like to move away from).
Lastly, the number of voters who express dissatisfaction with both major parties may well be larger than in decades, maybe ever. There are quiet discussions about finding leaders of both parties to lead a national ticket; or, perhaps a leader who is less partisan.
There are paths forward if individuals step up. What will not soon get us to a better place is doing the same things over and over again, hoping for a different set of results (thank you Einstein).
I do remain optimistic that leaders are out there and they can rally people around them. Indeed, Maryland has stood for that. The outgoing governor, Larry Hogan, remains a popular Republican across the state. And, the likely incoming governor, Wes Moore, a Democrat, enjoys strong bipartisan support. I suspect both will play their own important roles in finding a better way forward.
One can only hope!