Earlier this morning, Joe Biden (and Kamala Harris) won the White House. But the Democratic Party – and the American “left” in general – have very little else to celebrate.
Not only have the Democrats almost certainly failed to flip the senate, they have lost seats in the House (even though they still maintain a majority). They spent outrageous sums of money – hundreds of millions of dollars – trying to win races against senators such as Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham, and they still lost by huge margins.
The Biden-Harris campaign might have succeeded in driving up turnout, but so did the Trump campaign. Both Joe Biden and Donald Trump are currently eclipsing Hillary Clinton’s popular vote count by millions. No one expected it to be this close. Americans – and the rest of the world – were told that Biden was going to walk home with a win. It’s been anything but.
Joe Biden will be the president, but it won’t be clear what he can do with it. It certainly won’t be an easy presidency being at the mercy of a Republican-controlled senate that will unlikely be in much of a mood to cooperate given all that has happened in the past few years, including the harsh rhetorical treatment they have received from the left.
The Democrats thought they’d win big and from that, transform the country while leading some kind of revolution of virtue. This wouldn’t just mean enacting a long list of – often extreme – policies like the Green New Deal. They planned to entrench the power they assumed they would have by making institutional changes such as packing the Supreme Court, abolishing the Electoral College, ending the filibuster, and even adding left-leaning states that would favour the Democratic Party.
It’s no wonder so many more moderate Americans showed up to vote for Donald Trump and Republican House and senate candidates. The extremism of the Democratic policies and their radical plan to govern ensured they had every motivation. Even if people don’t like Trump, they will vote defensively to ward off those kinds of risks. This is something more clear eyed Democrats have recognized, and have warned their party to get a grip on things.
The Democrats and their supporters overseas don’t seem to get it. America is not a college campus or a Twitter feed. Half the American population don’t want to see them in power and are fiercely passionate in their opposition to the more extreme versions of their plans. Their attempts to permanently lock Republicans out of power in the name of democracy by institutional and constitutional change was, and will always be, a powerful way to inspire and unite the resistance against them.
And a Biden administration would be foolish to try from such a position of weakness.
Anything that closely resembles a move to the radical left will only move the country closer to a conservative backlash, resulting in Republicans not only increasing their margin in the senate, but also taking control of the House in 2022 (even if the senate map is harder for Republicans). Given that the president’s party has been hammered in every mid-term election since 2006, the prospect of this is very real anyway. A red wave in 2022 would ensure Biden remained useless for the rest of this term.
If the race to the presidency was as certain as the polls told us it would be, perhaps things would be different. But it isn’t. It was so close that it has come down to just a few thousand votes in some states, with recounts almost certain.
So, whoever was going to win always had four years of division to look forward to. Both parties are hated by half the population, but at least the Republicans know it given they are constantly informed of it by celebrities and journalists. The Democrats, however, have never shown such awareness. They believe they are the only party to have the moral right to govern and a win is just the restoration of that divine right.
The Democratic Party will soon learn, though, (if they haven’t already) that those who voted against them don’t appreciate being called white supremacist, racist, homophobic deplorables. Good luck trying to bring people over to the cause by telling them how much you hate and despise them. I have my doubts, personally.
The end of the Trump presidency is not going to be enough to heal such a divided nation.
Monique Poirier has a Masters degree in Political Studies, and is a small business owner and former Parliamentary staffer. She is the Campaigns Manager for the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance.