As I sit in my office on a bright morning with the sun streaming in the window, I have finally concluded that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will indeed be inaugurated as President and Vice President in two months, and that Mark Kelly will be our Junior U.S. senator soon.
It appears this morning that Commander Covid’s attorneys are losing stomach for frivolous lawsuits over stolen votes, miscounts, sleight-of-hand, and the like (except for Arizona, where someone needs to confiscate Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward’s credit card).
However, we Democrats face the challenge of governing a deeply divided country during a pandemic that is hardly a hoax (ask the doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators). We face propping up an economy that is as surely a victim of the aforementioned pandemic as any of its human victims.
Make lemonade out of lemons
We were lulled by optimistic “analyses” based on incompetent opinion polling to believe that a giant blue wave of reform would be coming. It turned out to be a blue ripple. We should however make lemonade with the lemons we have won. The Republicans did that in 2000 and 2016 after winning close electoral battles.
To make the lemonade, we need to avoid the usual Democratic practice of forming a circular firing squad, and work hard to keep our winning center-left coalition together as we shift from campaigning to governing. This is important for several reasons:
- Nationally the Biden-Harris administration will have to work with a closely divided legislative branch. The House majority has narrowed from 2016, and the majority the Senate will be decided in the Georgia runoff on Jan. 5, 20201.
- State governments also reflect the close national divide. Although Democrats have picked up a few governorships, state legislatures appear to continue to lean to the right. This could be critical in 2021 when state legislatures begin to deal with legislative redistricting based on the shaky results of the 2020 census.
- A look at state-by-state electoral return maps presided over by NBC’s Steve Kornacki displays the political divide between Democratic-dominated urban areas surrounded by Republican-dominated rural areas.
“It’s the message, stupid”
We remain a closely divided country with differing views of what’s best for us now and where our best future lies. It seems to me that future progress lies in making incremental steps, holding the Party’s center-left coalition together and peeling off center-right Republicans (as long as they last) issue-by-issue to broaden support.
We also need to deprive the Republicans of branding us with such terms as “defund the police,” “government-run health care,” and “socialist.” We can do that by continuing to say the Democrats ran on a well-developed, progressive platform that will benefit the future of all Americans and will make us a stronger nation. Further, it is not the platform that Commander Covid and his lackeys would have us believe. Yes, it is progressive. Anything beyond the lassiez faire denial policies of the Republicans would be progressive.
James Carville is famous for telling Bill Clinton, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Yes, it’s the economy while we labor to get the pandemic under control and rebuild our wage-earning and consuming economy. But it’s also “It’s the message, stupid” in a plugged-in, online society. Let us remind ourselves and our elected leaders that we must hang together in the coming governance battles, or we shall all hang separately in an America we don’t want to see.