As of this writing, at 1.00 PM on Wednesday morning, Joe Biden looks like the winner — narrowly — of yesterday’s election. I say “looks like” because the final tallies aren’t in yet. Still, Biden has a noticeable advantage in enough States to claim a 270 to 268 electoral vote victory.
This — if it holds up — is not the result most of us we hoping for. Biden would be inaugurated into the office of President, but the Republicans will have a Senate majority well aware of the narrowness of Biden’s win. (As of this writing, it’s 50 percent to 48 percent, a 2,600,000 vote difference.) Mr. Trump will be gone, but the close division of America’s voters remains — indeed, is further confirmed. President Biden — if he does in fact win this — faces an enormous task trying to navigate a government divided and hardened in its division.
But the final composition of Congress isn’t yet known, and I won’t belabor the matter further today. What I would like to do is write some observations about the state of our two political parties.
As i see it, the Democratic party has become too much the party of corporate and banking managers. Millions of highly-paid commercial administrators and directors, and their high-income technical assistants poured almost unlimited millions into Senate campaigns they had scant hope of winning. Cases in point : Jamie Harrison in South Carolina, Sarah Gideon in Maine, Amy McGrath in Kentucky. What purpose was served by throwing millions of dollars on races never to be won ? Even the Senate race in Maine proved out of reach of the millions wasted on Susan Collins’s opponent . It was angry money, all of it, blind anger irrational — but there because the angry are the highly-paid, corporate social justice prophets whose program, for ending anyone who differs politically from them, is to boycott them with a tidal wave of dollars.
If I am a Senate incumbent faced with a tsunami of money coming to my opponent, my message to the voters is a simple one : “they’re trying to buy the race.” It’s a winning response. Voters for some reason do not like having big money folks buying Senate seats, which according to our nation’s rules, belong to the voters.
Might the $ 120 million donated to these losing efforts not have been better spent hiring field operatives for Joe Biden in Georgia, Texas, and Florida ? Spanish-speaking operatives ? Biden lost Florida and Texas because he under-performed Democratic expectations of Hispanic voters there. Most of the Hispanic voters who Biden could not win over are low-paid, two jobs grunts. They want to get ahead, not stage a protest. Yet the Biden message was divided between economic betterment and racial justice issues. Of course racial justice is crucial; it’s written into the Constitution. But Hispanic voters, like their Anglo working class counterparts, want economic justice first. If you can’t pay the bills, or save go get ahead, you haven’t much time to worry about civil rights, which, among white voters, continue to be the preoccupation of the highly privileged chiefly.
Nothing much changes in America when it comes to society and social custom. Before the Civil War, Abolition was the cause celebre of the Northern, Yankee aristocracy. It took rebellion by the South, and a deadly Civil War to bring most Northern opinion onto the abolition side. Toady we do not have Civil War (despite the fears of many keyboard warriors); and thus the pre-occupation which high-income white activists give to “Black lives matter” seems another universe to the economic aspirations and daily budget challenges that most voters deal with.
The Biden campaign didn’t shun working-class issues, and Joe certainly is every inch the son of the white working class, as Hillary Clinton was absolutely not. Thus Joe did much better than Hillary did with white working class voters — which is why he has probably won the election. Yet his message was seriously diluted by having to confront the summer’s Black Lives matter riots, looting, and highway blockings. I know very few voters who weren’t incensed by these things and the evident inability of Democratic office holders to curb the unrest; and Biden was slow to find his message of denunciation.
It has always, in America, been difficult for politicians to bind a coalition of white working class voters and voters of color. Much more often, its been the white elite who have forged a bond with voters of color. (Drive through the tony town of Carlisle and count all the Black Lives matter lawn signs in this very high income community. then do the same in working class Revere.) Today that elitist mission has the backing of corporate human resource offices and directors, who have imposed “sensitivity training” sessions on their employees, complete with social justice sociology and a duty to feel guilty about vaguely defined “racial bias.” I know very few people who willingly accept being made to feel humiliation. It reeks of Maoist “struggle sessions,” sometimes with career consequences, and it happens on college campuses as well as in the corporate world.
Of course we as a nation must promote first class citizenship for all. That should be a given. But it cannot be a given if it is imposed on people by an upper class, holier than thou elite. America has always rejected such elitism, and certainly a Democratic party cannot co-exist with it. Yet today;s democratic party has given much of its attention to this brand of talking down to people deemed benighted. How is this in any way consistent with the Democratic ideal, in which ordinary people talk UP to those better positioned than they ?
Joe Biden, buffeted by these contradictory movements, found himself trying to be who he is not — one of our social justice elite — at the same time that he insisted upon he who he in fact is : a son of working class parents who is in every way a traditional Democrat of the sort that has moved heavily to the Trump Republican party because it resents being talked down to and told that it is racist and thus shamed. not many voters take well to being shamed. It isn’t what the Democratic party has ever been about, and its presence in this season’s Democratic party felt as uneasy to you as it did to me.
It compromises a politicia’s moarl force when he lets himslef eb forced tgo say thiongs he doesn’t beleieve. Joe Biden certainly believes deeply in equlaity fort all, but he clearly is not comfortable with diverting to it from, his basic, economic message. His economic message is THE message of the Democratic party and has always been. It was so even in the Jim Crow era, albeit then restricted to whites. We forget that most Jim Crow politicians began their careers as Jennings Bryan economic populists. Today, economic populism has bifurcated : the patriotic, flag waving workingman’s kind that powers Trump’s Republican party, and the economic justice kind — example : Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman — that Joe Biden grew up in. It has always been a priority of our economic elite to keep the nation’s working class divided. Toady that division mission has succeeded, to our immense debit: because we have always been a nation of people on the bottom aspiring to get ahead. it is who we are. That aspiration should be the sole possession of the Democratic party — its sacred treasure. yet today the party is trying to have it both ways. Against a nasty man like Mr. Trump, it has succeeded — barely. It might not thus succeed again soon.
Last point : I am not advocating any form of socialism. Governments should never, ever own the means of production or handicap the marketplace. I am, however, advocating a participatory capitalism that rewards workers handsomely and understands that the economic prosperity of all is economic prosperity for capitalists as well as employees. In short, the compromises forged by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his team. That is the future road a successful Democratic party should pursue, as it eschews the unrest of those who would harm the nation in the name of justice.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere