The American People Take Back Their Democracy Firing Demagogue Donald-- Congratulations President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President Elect Kamala Harris! November 10, 2020
Our democratic form of government allows us to correct electoral mistakes or engage in do-overs. The Chief Executive, the President of the United States (POTUS) can be elected to two four-year terms. If the majority of Americans believe that a President has failed to implement key promises, has put the wrong policies into effect, and/or has made a major mess of domestic and foreign issues, that Chief Executive can be voted out of office when running for a second term. If that President’s actions have brought disgrace to this high office and show contempt for the democracy that has governed our nation since its 1789 founding, this individual can get the boot when running for re-election.
Election Day 2020 occurred on November 3. On November 7, 2020, after counting the votes in the key swing state of Pennsylvania, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden went over the required 270 Electoral College mark to win election and will become our 46th President. The media later called Nevada’s votes for Biden, and most media outlets have called Arizona for Biden as well. When all the votes from all 50 states are counted, Biden will probably end up with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, the exact amount Donald surprisingly defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton by in 2016. Incumbent GOPer Donald J. Trump becomes the third elected president since WWII to lose re-election along with Democrat Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992 (See nytimes.com, Martin & Burns, 11/07/2020). Trump’s loss will only be the fourth time an incumbent lost in the past 100 years (huffpost.com, Terkel, 11/07/20). Besides PA, which Biden flipped from Trump’s 2016 win there, he flipped WI and MI, the normally Democratic “blue wall” which was the key to Trump’s 2016 victory. If Biden wins the GA contest, and the returns so far look promising, he will be the first Democrat to win that Deep South state in 28 years. If AZ goes for Biden, he will be the first Democrat to win the Grand Canyon/Copper State in 24 years (Terkel, huffpost.com, 11/07/20). As for the popular vote, although, it’s the electoral votes that give a presidential nominee the win, Biden, as of 11/07/2020, had amassed 74, 561, 950 votes to Trump’s 70, 391, 664, a 50.5% margin to Donald’s 47.7% (nytimes.com). Biden’s 74 plus million votes are the most a presidential candidate has ever received in a U.S. election. He is leading Donald by about 4 million votes nationwide (Terkel, huffpost.com, 11/07/20). According to the United States Election Project, nearly 160 million eligible Americans have voted in the 2020 election. The previous record for total voters was about 139 million when Donald won in 2016. The 2020 turnout rate of close to 67% hasn’t been seen in 120 years (usnews.com, Davis, 11/05/20).
Democrats expected this election to be a referendum on the deadly coronavirus which had killed over 236,000 Americans at the time of Biden’s win and shows no sign of stopping. Trump deliberately ignored the virus and sneered at scientific advice to socially distance and use masks. He made not wearing a mask a “political statement,” a sign of “machismo” for his “Red” base. Trump and his followers discounted science in every way possible. Even after he was hospitalized at Walter Reed after getting COVID-19, he learned nothing. When he returned to the White House, he ripped off his mask and continued to belittle this horrible pandemic. Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of corporate cronies in D.C. Instead, he and his family were the biggest bunch of corrupt grifters our country ever had in power. Trump took us out of the Iran nuclear treaty, making the world less safe. He pulled us out of the Paris environmental agreement and repealed hundreds of regulations to limit the emission of pollutants in our air and water. He was anti-choice and appointed 3 reactionary judges to the U.S. Supreme Court and 200 plus similar lower federal court judges. He spoke crudely and tweeted threatening remarks to anyone who opposed him. He attacked the press as “the enemy of the people.” He elevated racism, sexism, misogyny, and anti-immigrant politics to win the White House. He coddled white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and anti-Semites during the campaign and while in office. He called such groups after the 8/2017 fatal Charlottesville race riot “very fine people.” Biden decided that after Trump’s praising of the Charlottesville bigots, he had to run in 2020 because the “soul of American was at stake (See jta.org., 11/07/200).” Trump encouraged wacko conspiracy theories, and mocked peaceful demonstrators protesting police brutality. He had peaceful protestors tear gassed for a photo-op in front of D.C.’s famous St. John’s Church. He used his presidential powers to ban Muslim and other immigrants. He separated migrant children from their parents and caged those youngsters in filthy detention centers. Over 500 children have still not been reunited with their parents and several of them died in detention. Trump used the Justice Department as his own personal law firm. He was only the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House for withholding aid to Ukraine unless it dug up dirt on political rival Biden and his family. Trump was only acquitted because of his loyalist GOP-dominated Senate (See huffpost.com, Terkel, 11/07/20). Trump’s total contempt for democracy and our Constitution was evident in all these actions and triggered Democrats to defeat him in 2020.
When he takes office, Biden will be our oldest President at age 78. He is the second Catholic after JFK to win the Presidency. Biden chose CA Senator Kamala Harris (56) as his VP running mate. Oakland, CA native Kamala Harris, a former District Attorney and CA Attorney General, is the first woman Vice-President elect and the first person of color to hold that office. She is the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant. She is also the first woman of Southern Asian ancestry to be elected to that position, the daughter of an immigrant from India. Her husband, Doug Emhoff, a Los Angeles entertainment attorney, will be the first male spouse of a VP, aka, the Second Gentleman, Second Husband, or Second Dude. Emhoff, who is white, is also the first Jewish spouse to be in that position, a reflection of our nation’s changing inclusive political, ethnic, religious, and gender norms (See cnn.com, Sullivan, Lah, & Stracqualrisi, 11/07/20).
Biden’s victory came 48 years to the day after he was first elected to the U.S. Senate where he had served from 1973-2009. In the Senate, Biden chaired the Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committee. He served as Obama’s VP for two terms (2009-2017). Biden constitutes the polar opposite of Trump. As most of us know, Biden can feel people’s pain and has overcome many obstacles and tragedies. He overcame a stutter that plagued him during his childhood and adolescence. Shortly after first winning his Senate seat in 1972, his first wife and baby daughter were killed in a car accident. While Obama’s VP, Biden’s eldest son Beau died of brain cancer at age 46. Biden himself nearly died of two cerebral aneurysms in 1988 and had to undergo delicate brain surgeries to survive. His second wife Jill, his extended family, and Biden’s Catholic faith helped him overcome these traumas and bounce back. Biden, well-liked by most people and able to get along with members of both parties, ran on restoring political normalcy and national unity. Biden built a coalition that included an alliance of women, people of color, old and young voters, and a sliver of disaffected GOPers. Biden based his campaign on getting back the historically blue- collar Democratic strongholds in PA, MI, and WI. As a son of working- class Scranton, PA, he never forgot his roots and did not come off as an entitled “elitist.” He is a moderate progressive and defeated left-of-center Democrats in the primaries who, IMHO, would not have been able to beat Trump in a general election.
Despite Biden’s strong electoral and popular vote win, Democrats were not able to build on this to get more “Team Blue” members into the House and Senate. Democrats will keep the House which they took back from the GOP in 11/2018. However, instead of gaining seats there, which many pollsters had predicted, they will probably lose anywhere from 4-10 seats, giving them a very narrow majority. How did this happen? Remember, although Biden had the highest U.S. presidential voter turnout ever received and surpassed Hillary’s 65,853,516 vote total by at least 8,708, 434 votes, Donald increased his 62,984,824 2016 vote total by at least 7,406, 840 votes (nytimes.com, “One Nation After Trump,” Dionne, Ornstein, & Mann). And Donald is now the second highest presidential popular vote recipient. Many rank and file GOPers adore Donald. They were easily prodded by a heavily financed GOP voter drive to get out and pull the lever for Trump. In Florida, with its heavy concentration of Cuban and Venezuelan American voters, who had memories of fleeing socialist/Communist governments, Trump won that state by a 3.4 margin in 2020, surpassing his 1.2 2016 win (nytimes.com, Collins, Fessenden, Gamio, et al, 11/04/20). Biden lost that state because he underperformed Hillary in Miami-Dade County, a heavily Hispanic area, where Cubans bought the Trump/GOP line that Biden and his Democrats were “socialists,” translation, “Communists.” The surge of Cuban-American voters boosted Donald’s vote totals in Miami-Dade where he picked up nearly 200,000 more votes than four years ago. That Latino surge was instrumental in helping defeat first-term Democratic Congressmembers Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala who represented areas of Miami-Dade County in the 26th and 27th Congressional Districts (CDs) respectively (Collins, et al, nytimes.com, AP).
In 2018, without Donald on the ballot, Democrats gained 40 seats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) correctly noted with Donald on the ballot in 2020 it would be a steeper climb to hold many of these first-term members. However, Democrats have won or are ahead in at least 70% of the races in 30 of those 40 districts that Trump won in 2016 (latimes.com, Wire, 11/05/20). In addition to losing the two seats in the Miami-Dade, FL area, Democratic Congressmember Xochitl Torres Small lost to a GOPer in the rural conservative 2nd New Mexico CD, the Roswell and Carlsbad area, nicknamed “Little Texas (Wire, latimes.com, Cohen & Cook, Political Almanac 2020).” In the normally “Red” Oklahoma City suburbs, Democrat Kendra Horn lost (latimes.com, Wire, 11/05/20). In “ultra-Red” S. Carolina, Democrat Joe Cunningham lost the Charleston, Hilton Head 1st CD, an area with an R+10 Cook Partisan Voting Index (AP, Cohen & Cook 2020). In GOP-tilting Staten Island, NY, Dem. Max Rose lost. Anthony Brindisi suffered defeat in the Utica, Binghamton GOP-leaning 22nd CD (AP). Democrats were unable to pick up any new House seats in TX.
Now, let’s cheer some of our House victories. In MA, despite the ridiculous grousing of some of our base that he was not a “real Democrat” because he supported MA GOP Gov. Charlie Baker, Democrat Jake Auchincloss, related to Jackie Kennedy’s stepfather Hugh Auchincloss, handily won in the MA 4th CD. The MA 4th was the area previously represented by Joe Kennedy III, RFK’s grandson (AP). In New Jersey, Andy Kim, Mikie Sherrill, and Tom Malinowski won re-election in the 3rd , 11th , and 7th CDs despite fears that this group would not triumph again (AP). NJ’s Mikie Sherrill along with fellow female Democratic Congressmembers Chrissy Houlahan (PA 6th CD), Elaine Luria (VA 2nd CD), Abigail Spanberger (VA 7th CD), and Elissa Slotkin (MI 8th CD), members of the “badass caucus” won re-election (AP). These women all had a military or CIA background. Despite being in districts tough for Democrats to win, these Congressmembers bravely came out for impeaching Demagogue Donald (cnn.com, Bash, Nolan, et all, 10/28/19). In GA, Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux flipped the suburban Atlanta 7th CD “Blue” while Democratic Congressmember Lucy McBath won her neighboring suburban Atlanta 6th GA CD seat against GOPer Karen Handel in a rematch. McBath won by a bigger margin against Handel this time (Cohen & Cook 2020, AP). In North Carolina, Democrats gained two new seats because of court-ordered redistricting. Democratic State Rep. Deborah Ross easily won the Raleigh 2nd CD while Democrat Kathy Manning won the Tar Heel 6th in the Greensboro area (newsobserver.com). In rural IA, now trending away from Democrats, Cindy Axne won her race in the Des Moines 3rd CD (AP).
Democrats, as previously stated, will keep the House. The results in the Senate remain unsettled. Democrats failed to capture the Senate outright, despite polling results looking good for “Team Blue.” If the Democrats win their two GA runoffs on 1/05/2021 with Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the Senate will have a 50-50 tie that VP Kamala Harris breaks giving “Team Blue” the majority. IMHO, winning a runoff post-New Years with a “y uu ge” turnout like Democrats had in the 11/03/2020 GA general election will be one uphill climb. So far, only two seats, or a net gain of one, have flipped to the Democrats in the upper chamber. CO’s John Hickenlooper and AZ’s Mark Kelly won their races. However, Dem. Doug Jones lost in “Ruby Red” Alabama to Tommy Tuberville by nearly 21 points (AP). Remember, in 12/2017 Jones beat pervert Roy Moore by a mere 2-point margin (Cohen & Cook 2020). Jones was living on borrowed political time. Democrats hoped that ME GOP Susan Collins, after voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Ct. and for the top 1% tax cut, would lose her seat to Dem. Sara Gideon. Gideon often led in polling, but in the end, Collins prevailed. Collins’ vote against GOP Sup. Ct. nominee Amy Coney Barrett allowed many Mainers to keep viewing her as an “independent.” Collins beat Gideon 51%-42% (huffpost.com, Robillard, 11/09/20). In IA, despite flubbing the prices of farm commodities in a debate, GOP “hog castrator” Senator Joni Ernst will be “squealing” again in D.C. She beat farm girl Democrat Theresa Greenfield by a 6.6 percent margin (AP). When many GOP voters believed that Biden was going to win, these GOP voters in “Red” states like KS, MT, and NC “came home” to the “Red” camp. GOPers successfully argued that Biden had to be checked by a “Red” Senate. GOPers came out in surprisingly high numbers for Donald across the map, dooming IA’s Greenfield , MT’s Bullock, and SC’s Harrison efforts in these “Red”-leaning states. Despite lots of talk and money from grass-roots Democrats who thought they could defeat Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), his seat was never in play. Democratic Sen. candidate Cal Cunningham, who was leading unpopular Thom Tillis in NC, lewdly shot his political chances. A conservative website and then mainstream papers reported Cunningham, who portrayed himself as an upright military/family fellow, had exchanged sexual texts with a married woman. In still heavily rural evangelical NC, Cunningham is on track to lose to Tillis by about a 1.7% margin (AP, Robillard, huffpost.com, 11/09/20). Democrats had plenty of money to compete in these Senate races, but super-PACS allied with Sen. Majority Leader McConnell poured tens of millions of dollars into these Senate races in the last weeks of the campaign, when most people were just tuning in. In the week after Trump’s disastrous 9/29/2020 debate with Biden, the GOP poured $20 million worth of airtime into solid “Red” SC, KS, and Alaska. While Democrats poured their millions into Senate races in “Red” states, they ran in all of those states on the single issue of GOPers voting to repeal Obamacare. Some consultants believed that message became stale and was a “one size fits all” poor tactic. The GOP went state by state attacking Democratic candidates using opposition research that was tailored to the specific “Blue” candidates they were facing. The National Republican Senatorial Campaign alone raised $275 million this cycle, breaking a previous record to fend off Democratic grass-roots fundraising. Other GOP-leaning groups raised millions as well (See huffpost.com, Robillard, 11/09/20). Again, to stop Sen. McConnell from becoming Majority Leader, we must win BOTH GA Sen. runoffs this coming 1/05/2021.
Because millions of GOPers came out for Demagogue Donald in record-breaking numbers even though he lost, there was no “Blue” wave at the state legislative level. Remember, state legislative chambers are the “farm teams” where future candidates are recruited to run for higher state and national office. They enact progressive or reactionary laws in areas of abortion, gun control, and police reform. These chambers draw maps for state and federal redistricting, which must be done, after 2020, for the next 10 years (nytimes.com, Tavernise, 11/04/20). After the 2018 election, Democrats had flipped 7 legislative chambers and at least 372 seats (J. Post, dlcc.org, 11/07/18). In 2020, several legislative chambers looked very doable for taking by “Team Blue.” However, Democrats came up with no flips in their favor. They failed to take control of the TX House from the GOP, a prize which seemed within reach. They also lost the battle to control NC’s House and Senate. They failed to flip the IA House and the Houses in PA and MI (nytimes.com, Tavernise). However, Democrats did prevent Republicans from gaining a supermajority in the WI Assembly which will stop the GOP legislature from overriding any veto of electoral maps by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. In more rural “Red”-trending OH, Judge Jennifer Brunner was elected to the Buckeye State’s Supreme Court. Bruner’s election reduces the court’s conservative majority from 4-3. Before 11/03/2020, the GOP controlled about 3/5 of all 98 partisan legislative chambers. If no other chambers flip, that “Red” dominance will not change. In order for Democrats to flip more congressional and state legislative seats, they will have to keep coming out in droves plus in every election, presidential and midterm. Before the 11/03/2020 election, the GOP held 26 Governorships to the Dems’ 24. After the 2020 election, Democrats lost 1 gubernatorial race in MT. There, with “y uu ge” turnout for Trump, GOPer Cong. Greg Gianforte clobbered Dem. Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney by a 12.4% margin (nytimes.com/interactive). Gianforte had previously pled guilty to misdemeanor assault of a British reporter covering his congressional race. Gianforte had then body slammed that reporter, an action Trump was quite pleased with (See ballotpedia.org).
Unfortunately, Trump’s demagogic charisma brought out between 70-71 million rabid followers. Trumpism remains far too strong among the rural sections of our country v. the more populated urban areas. We remain a deeply divided country. However, remember Biden and Harris are the only individuals who won a nationwide mandate, not a district or state one. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, early mail balloting and early in-person voting soared. At least 101, 423, 318 early votes came in, many breaking overwhelmingly for Biden and his fellow Democrats (electproject.github, McDonald, M.) Most GOPers voted on Election Day itself. Early voting must be encouraged throughout this country. And this time, young Americans finally came out in droves and made a difference. As of 11/09/2020, the 18-29 vote was at 50%-52%, v. 42%-44% in 2016. And once all the votes are counted, the youth turnout may rise to 53%-56%, v. 2016’s final 45%-48%. More than 10 million youth cast early and absentee votes. This young group supported Biden by a 25-point margin, 61%-36% and were crucial in the battleground states that gave Biden his Electoral College win. Youth voters of color, Blacks and Latinos, may have single-handedly made Biden competitive in GA and AZ (circle.tufts.edu, 11/07/20).
Again, what lesson did we learn from 2020? Turnout is everything and when young Democrats and their elders vote, we and the nation win. There are more of us than them. As Barack Obama aptly stated, all of us, “including the young must be at the table” to push our legislative ideas forward. We must make voting a habit, in every election, not just to oust Demagogue Donald. We must back Biden in the next midterm even if he doesn’t check all of our legislative “boxes,” or the GOP will take over Congress again. Voting is a civic duty for all of us, all the time. We must be in this political struggle for the long haul. The only way to check Mitch McConnell’s continuing malarkey and shenanigans is to vote for Biden and “Team Blue.”
On a personal note-- I have been writing this blog for 16 years now, pushing for strong Democratic voter turnout. I will continue to do this and criticize the absurd reactionary stands the GOP takes. Biden, who sensibly promised healing and emphasized a return to decency in his first speech as President-elect, has a lot to undo starting on Day #1, his inauguration. He is already hitting the ground running by setting up a blue chip COVID-19 task force which will put science at the forefront. He is rightly looking into executive orders to bypass McConnell and his “Red” congressional lapdogs. He had a top team of campaign advisors as well as great people he wants in his administration. He knows just how Sen. McConnell and his allies work in Congress better than just about anyone else. We must be Biden’s allies. Again, congratulations President-elect Biden and VP-elect Harris! And congratulations to the majority of the American people for preserving our democracy. To quote Founding Father Benjamin Franklin, “We have a republic, if we can keep it.”