Looking ahead, politically

Infidel753 at Infidel753 blog had an interesting post up which I thought makes for a good read. Infidel753 can also be found at Crooks and Liars blog.

Soon the time of Trump will give way to a Democratic presidency and House and hopefully a 50-50-plus-Harris control of the Senate.  Some things to keep in mind:

1. When 2022 and 2024 arrive, most of the Democratic voting base will judge Biden and the Democrats in Congress mainly by results.  Has the pandemic been vanquished?  Have jobs and wages (not “the economy”, which takes in all kinds of things, but jobs and wages specifically) recovered?  Has federal legislation to protect voting rights from state-level gerrymandering and vote suppression been enacted?  Has Medicare access been expanded or some other kind of public option been provided?  Have DC and Puerto Rico become states?  If the Democrats achieve results, our voters will care only that it was done, not how it was done.  Conversely, if little or nothing is accomplished, nobody will much care about whatever reasons or excuses are offered.

2. Achieving such results will partially depend on two intermediate steps — abolishing the filibuster, and enlarging the Supreme Court or otherwise neutering the ability of its current McConnell-Trump-imposed hard-right majority to block progress.  The obstacle that a few Democrats oppose abolishing the filibuster should be surmountable — Feinstein needs to hear, vociferously, from a few million of her constituents, and Manchin can perhaps be brought around with the offer of some major benefit for his state, etc.  One or two Republicans might even be brought to support the move.  But if Democrats gain control of the Senate and don’t abolish the filibuster, the reasons for not doing it won’t matter — it will just mean they’ve handed the Republicans the rope to hang them with.

3. Don’t assume we can coast through the first two years without getting things done and then enact the full agenda after 2022 when we’ll pick up a bigger Senate majority.  Yes, the 2022 Senate map is very favorable to Democrats, but we could lose the House that year, especially if not much has been accomplished and our voting base is de-motivated.

4. We’re going to be flying blind for the next few elections because nobody, including pollsters, can accurately predict turnout.  The surges in Republican votes that elected Trump in 2016 and saved so many downballot Republicans in 2020 were real and largely unexpected.  The blue wave of 2018 was also real.  Nobody knows yet what this means in the long term.  Are we now in an era when Republicans do better in presidential years than in off-years?  Is it some effect unique to Trump which will fade when he’s out of politics?  Something else?  The point is, we can’t count on polls to tell us what’s going to happen, and even less on intuition and gut feeling.

5. We did very well in 2018 and fairly well this year despite state-level gerrymandering and vote suppression.  Federal legislation to stamp out those things is the surest way to boost our advantage further.

6. Stop pointing to demographics as a reason to be complacent.  I’ve been guilty of this myself, but if the Republicans were in inexorable decline already, we wouldn’t keep seeing knife-edge-close results in state after state that “should” be getting bluer, nor seeing some states actually getting redder.  There’s more to the demographic issue than the common liberal view of it allows for — I’ll have a post about this sometime in the next few weeks.

7. Stop trying to make everything about race and racism.  Yes, racism is an important issue, but there are other important issues which have nothing to do with it.

8. Stop saying stupid shit that drives voters in the sensible center (yes, they exist) toward the enemy.  There’s no way of knowing how many votes we lost because of talk of abolishing private medical insurance and “defund the police”, but it was probably quite a few.  Yes, yes, I know “defund the police really means blah blah” — shut the fuck up.  If you say “defund the police”, normal people are going to think you mean “defund the police”.  If you mean something else, then you need to use different words that accurately express what you mean.  Similarly, we must firmly squelch any perception that we are, as Bill Maher put it, the party of “silence is violence but vandalism is not”.  Disagreeing with somebody is not violence.  Smashing windows is violence.  It doesn’t matter what excuses or explanations anybody offers.  This is dangerous bullshit and costs votes we can’t afford.

9. It’s very possible that Republicans will be cripplingly divided for the next few years.  A lot will depend on what Trump does after leaving office, and how long the cult-like fervor toward him lasts.  But we can’t count on such divisions to smooth the way for us.  One way or another, they’ll involve a split between the Trump cultists and those on the right who seek a return to reality and sanity — and the latter group may not be large enough among Republican rank-and-file voters to have much impact.

10. One factor that may help break the wingnut “fever dream” alternate reality is the future course of the pandemic.  Red states are still being hit hard, and this will continue to be the case as they reject masks and social distancing and, perhaps, largely reject the vaccine as well.  It will soon reach the point where a large fraction of the population knows somebody who has died of covid-19 or has survived but suffered permanent, serious harm from it.  At the same time, they’ll see life slowly returning to normal in the blue cities where the vaccine is in wide use.  A realization that they were wrong about the pandemic might open some right-wingers’ minds to the possibility that they’ve been wrong about other things as well.  Again, though, we’d be foolish to count on this.

11.  There will be some violence from the right wing, perhaps even an assassination or two. But there won’t be an insurrection or violence on a large enough scale to have a real political effect.

12.  At some point, somewhere, something big and completely unexpected will happen.  It always does.