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State of American History, Civics, and Politics

Could Elizabeth Warren Have Won?

For Democrats, leaving Donald Trump in office is not only good politics – it is the best chance for fundamental realignment of American politics in more than a generation. Mr. Trump is three years into destroying what we know as the Republican Party. Another two years just might finish it off. Trumpism spells electoral doom for the party.
A Bigger Prize Than Impeachment
Joe Lockhart (NYT 4/23/19)

Could Elizabeth Warren have won? How about Bernie Sanders? We will never know, of course, if these “socialists” would have emerged victorious. Still it is more than an idle question. Although the peaceful transition from THE LOSER to the winner has yet to begin and may never happen even after the Electoral College votes, it’s not too early to think about the next election.

More precisely, the Democrats have decisions to make about how to govern during the Biden administration. Perhaps even more importantly, the Democrats have decisions to make about how they wish to portray themselves and be portrayed to the general public.

By now it is no secret that the elections did not work out how the Democrats had hoped. Battleground states in the presidential election turned out to be no contest such as in Florida and Ohio. States where Biden was thought to have had a huge lead became if not nail-biters then much closer than expected. True, as the votes continue to be counted, Biden did better than any presidential challenger candidate since the Depression vote in 1932, but more was hoped for.

The Senate votes were also a surprise. The expected pickups didn’t happen and the close races were even close yet alone won by the Democrats.

The less said about the results in the House for Democrats the better. They are just holding on to the House as the Republicans seem to doing in the Senate. That is not what was expected to happen either.

Democrats lost another governorship and didn’t pick up any state houses either. So much for Lockhart’s wishful thinking.

I have been saving the cutout of the Lockhart op-ed piece from April 2019, waiting for the right time to use. I think now is the time. He went on to write:

Republicans today are the party of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson – a coalition that, in the face of every demographic trend in America, will mean the long-term realignment of the federal government behind the Democrats.

I don’t know if anyone has asked Lockhart about that op-ed piece including about these two quotations. It would be interesting to know what he thinks given the recent elections.

On a descriptive level, Lockhart is exactly right. The Republican Party as a party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and Reagan no longer exists. Even as a party of Nixon it no longer exists. To understand the Nixon presidency one must differentiate his criminality from his policies such as on China or the environment. And despite the current infatuation with some other minor news networks, the Trumpican Party has been the party of Fox and its friends and allies. In this regard, Lockhart’s assessment was and has remained accurate.

While Lockhart thought the unfit President should be impeached on merit, he took the daring view that there were political advantages to keeping him in power. He even called keeping him in power a “dream scenario.” To have the impeached President complete his term meant the Republicans would be stuck with him. Putting aside the unforseen 250,000 reasons to have him removed, Lockhart optimistically concluded:

“Allowing Mr. Trump to lead the Republican Party, filled with sycophants and weak-willed leaders, into the next election is a greater prize (than impeachment and removal from office). Democrats have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to realign American politics along progressive lines… “

It turns out Lockhart was better at describing the Trumpican Party then in understanding the American electorate. Perhaps if this Joe had listened to another Democratic Joe he would not have been surprised that his electoral prophecy went unfilled. Let’s step back in time. In his column in Time on January 6, 2016, Joe Klein noted after listening to the Democrats, “ …I heard Democrats proposing policies that appealed to many of these groups (meaning “tribes”), but few that appealed to Americans as a whole.” He elaborated on that point in his column on July 25, 2016:

“If nothing else, the progress in Dallas implies that the Democrats’ divisive identity politics – the sorting of constituencies according to ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation – is beginning to seem dated too.”

Then why is it still the Democratic policy four years and another presidential election later?

By contrast Democratic advisor David Axelrod recently wrote “People are hungry for a sense of community” (9/29/20 NYT), consistent with what Klein advocated and far different from the world of Lockhart.

Tim Shriver, head of the Special Olymipics, had said something similar to Tom Friedman as reported in an op-ed piece on March 4, 2020:

“I interact with enough Republicans and Democrats through the Special Olympics to know how starved they both are for the country to be pulled back together, so we can do big stuff together again.”

Shriver bemoaned how the disunity is making people sick and depressed. He regretted that so many Americans can’t even talk to members of their family, colleagues at work, and friends because of politics. We don’t need the coronavirus to keep us apart on Thanksgiving. Shriver declared:

“A lot of Americans are starving to be part of something lager than ourselves, something that loves us and needs us like building America together again, solving big problems together again, dreaming big dreams together again.” Already last April, Friedman stated Biden needs to appoint a national unity cabinet which is not the same as a check-the-boxes hyphen cabinet.”

After the election Friedman quoted Harvard professor Michael Sandel:

“…the Democratic Party continues to be more identified with professional elites and college-educated voters than with the blue-collar who once constituted their base. Even so epochal an event as a pandemic, bungled by Trump, did not change this.”

He might have added that just as the Republican Party is no longer the party of Lincoln, the Democrats are no longer the part of FDR. They are woke now and are too busy attacking America to have time for the racist flyover people who accept THE LOSER as their Lord and Savior, the Chosen One, Blessed Be his Name. Lockhart’s prophesy proved wrong because he misunderstood the American people. Sometimes the people he mistakenly limits to their hyphen identity end up thinking of themselves as Americans instead.

What does this mean moving forward? The Democrats are likely to become more woke and not less despite the results of the 2020 elections. Woke Democrats are likely to commit even more microaggressions against the American people than they have so far. Woke Democrats are likely to be even less tolerant than they have been so far. Woke Democrats are likely to be even more judgmental than they have been so far. They are likely to make Fox’s job easy. Fortunately for the Democrats the likelihood also is that the Republicans will not regain control of their party from the Trumpicans and the 2024 nominee will be Trump or Trump-tainted….and they still may be disappointed with the election results.