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Down-Ballot Debacle

It is likely that Joe Biden will win the Electoral College—narrowly, in spite of winning the popular vote by about 3.5 million votes, and with the most votes ever cast for a president. We, his supporters, can celebrate that: it means putting an end to the four years of Trump’s lies, incompetence and abuse. He will take office facing a daunting array of obstacles. Here’s what is clear.

It is clear that we live in a federal republic, not a pure democracy. The Electoral College and the Senate both systematically overrepresent smaller states (which currently are mostly Republican). The Constitution protects the Senate from any amendment that would reduce the representation of any state. Getting rid of the Electoral College would require a constitutional amendment. Good luck with that!

It is clear that Trump did not take any states that were won by Hillary Clinton, but, contrary to many state polls, he did hold several states that polls suggested could flip. Biden won by flipping several other Trump states.

It is clear that the Senate majority will be smaller than the 53-47 split we currently have, but it will likely be Republican. Biden can kiss goodbye to any plans for major legislative initiatives, executive and judicial appointments, and even orderly budgeting. Putting the best face on it, it will call for all of Biden’s talents for reaching across the aisle and getting something done.

Trump’s all-out mobilization of his base may not have sufficed to win reelection, but it seems to have enabled Republicans to blunt the Democrats’ charge down-ballot. 

It is clear that the House will remain in Democratic control, but with a reduced majority. As the Senate stays Republican, it is clear that we will see a continued legislative impasse. Trump’s all-out mobilization of his base may not have sufficed to win reelection, but it seems to have enabled Republicans to blunt the Democrats’ charge down-ballot. The Democrats’ down-ballot debacle will have lasting, unfortunate consequences. 

It is clear that Biden will not be able to legislate the reversal of the damage Trump has done, and to begin to “build back better” across the ambitious scope of his program. He will be able to stop the damage Trump has done in many areas, from race relations to immigration to environmental policy, but only through executive orders that can be reversed by the next president, just as Trump reversed hundreds of Obama orders.

Even as we celebrate Biden’s victory, we face an anticlimactic conclusion to four years of lies, abuse and incompetence under Trump. It is disheartening that almost half of the voting populace thinks Trump deserves reelection, and a good chunk of them apparently think he walks on water.

We who thought Trump was manifestly unfit for this high office, deeply disappointed that we will not have adequate means to address the damage Trump has done, are mourning, even as we celebrate.

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We mourn our country, split in almost equal, mutually hostile parts. Biden, can’t heal that rift. Trump will still stoke it with unrelenting Twitter barrages—even if he flees into exile to avoid prosecution.

We mourn our country, where almost half the electorate supported a man who daily expressed contempt for his adversaries, or indeed for anyone who would not toe his line. We have been ruled by a schoolyard bully.

We mourn the thousands of immigrant children who were separated from their parents and detained in appalling conditions, and the hundreds whose parents were deported so that the authorities had no idea where they were. This was a crime against humanity. The deliberately cruel policy was to make these children de facto orphans.

We mourn the loss of a democracy where people could disagree and compete without being called enemies and traitors.

We mourn the President’s deliberate undermining of public faith in the honesty of our elections. We defend the integrity of the thousands of volunteers across the country who make elections happen and count the votes honestly.

We mourn for the millions who have unnecessarily sickened and died from the coronavirus, due to the utter failure of leadership by Trump.

We mourn the decay of common sense respect for science, whether on the environment or on public health.

impeachment unavoidable

We mourn our beloved, sacred planet, the source of all life. Trump’s denial of climate change and elimination of environmental protections have done irreversible damage. Our children and grandchildren will live with catastrophic environmental destruction.

The struggle goes on.

John Peeler