The Disconcerting Truth About the Big Lie

The Daily Escape:

Sunset at Race Point Light, Provincetown, Cape Cod, MA – May 2021 photo by Kristen Wilkinson Photography

There’s a new Ipsos poll that asked the question: “Who do you think the true President is right now? Choose one”. (The choices were Joe Biden and Donald Trump).

Among all respondents, 75% said Biden, while 25% said Trump. So far, so good. Those saying that Trump is president broke down as Democrats 3%, Independents 22%, with 53% of Republicans answering that Trump is the actual President, not Biden. And that wasn’t all:

(The new Ipsos Poll is a national sample of 2,007 adults and was conducted between May 17th and 19th. It has an overall margin of error of 2.5%. The margin of error for the groups is: Democrats 3.7, Republicans 4.1, and Independents 8.0).

The question about whether the election was legitimate, or the result of illegal voting or election rigging, showed that Republicans believe the Big Lie, with 56% saying the 2020 election was illegitimate.

It doesn’t matter what the motives of the 53% of Republicans who say they believe Trump is really the president are. Maybe they believe what they’re saying, or they say it because they feel group (cult?) pressure to say it. The effect is the same. They are poisoning our democratic system, and they’re proud to be doing it.

Republicans throughout the country are saying that they need to restrict the vote to restore faith in the electoral system for their voters. But let’s not kid ourselves. The only way their faith will be restored is if Republicans “win.”

Does anyone remember polls of Democrats saying that Gore was the real president after the 2000 election, not GW Bush? There was plenty of complaining that Bush won through a corrupt legal process, because that’s what happened. The idea that Bush wasn’t actually the president would have been considered delusional. From Paul Campos:

“But today…a majority of the people who identify as members of one of the nation’s two major political parties are saying something that’s actually quite a bit crazier — that Donald Trump, who unlike Al Gore doesn’t have any factual basis for believing the election was stolen from him, is the true president RIGHT NOW — and we just have to shrug because that’s just something a lot of Real Americans happen to believe, just like they believe their guns protect them from the Government…and that global warming is a liberal myth…”

Paul Krugman on our current political mess:

“What’s different this time is the acquiescence of Republican elites. The Big Lie about the election didn’t well up from the grass roots — it was promoted from above, initially by Trump himself, but what’s crucial is that almost no prominent Republican politicians have been willing to contradict his claims and many have rushed to back them up.”

America’s next election will require UN observers.

The GOP’s party leaders have largely sworn allegiance to Trump and his movement, and they continue to propound the Big Lie. At the state level, they are moving quickly to restrict voting rights in as many locations as possible. And to help tie their program together, they are blocking attempts to investigate the coup on Jan 6th.

It is obvious that the GOP’s leaders are playing to the Republican base – fifty-six percent of whom think the election was stolen, and a majority of whom support the idea that “force may be necessary to save the American way of life.”

All this leaves America walking a tightrope over the abyss of authoritarianism. Any misstep and we could lose our democracy.

This is made all the more dangerous, of course, by the false sense of security Democrats are feeling now that Biden is in power. The Greenberg Research poll in late April focused on voter intensity levels in the states and Congressional Districts that will likely decide who controls Congress after 2022. It found 68% of Republican voters report the highest level of interest in the midterms, compared to just 57% of Democrats.

So, the fear of a Republican return to power in the Congress in 2022 is real. And will the GOP’s enthusiasm be matched in 2022 by Democratic voters rushing to the polls to show their gratitude to the Party for bringing back the economy and getting the vaccines distributed? Maybe.

Democrats need to realize sooner rather than later that it’s going to be hand-to-hand political combat for the foreseeable future and plan accordingly. No matter how much money you gave in 2020, you will need to give more in 2022.

Otherwise, if the Republicans are successful at overthrowing American democracy, there won’t be a next time. That’s it, game over. For a very long time, possibly for good.

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Getting Younger is Key to Democrats’ Future

The Daily Escape:

Canyonlands NP, UT – photo by Xymic

Like Biden, Wrongo is a member of the Silent Generation, but he always confuses the names and age groupings of the generational cohorts. Here’s the breakdown by cohort, age and number of each:

  • Silent Generation: Born between 1928 and 1945. There are about 23.6 million in the US
  • Baby Boomers:  Born between 1946 and 1964. There are about 68.7 million in the US
  • Gen X: Born between 1965 and 1979/1980. There are 65.1 million of them
  • Gen Y, or Millennials: Born between 1981 and 1994-1996. There are 82.2 million of them
  • Gen Z:  Born between 1997 and 2012-2015. There are 86.4 million of them in the US

Gen Z is now the largest demographic cohort, with Millennials just behind them. Boomers now represent 21% of America’s population, and Silents are 7%.

But Boomers and Silents still control our political lives. While true for both Parties, leadership in the Democratic Party skews really old: Biden is 78, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is 87, and House Speaker Pelosi is 80. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is 81, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is 80, while Senate Majority Leader  Chuck Schumer is a relatively young 70.

NY Mag’s Eve Peyser:

“If you’re starting to get the feeling that the country is governed as a gerontocracy, you are correct. People over 50 make up 34% of the US population, but 52% of the electorate, according to Pew. And it’s not only political power that baby-boomers and the Silent Generation have a tight grip on: Americans over 55 own two-thirds of the wealth in this country.”

Here is a chart from Pew that shows the distribution of the new Congress by age:

There are 31 Millennials in the House, and only one in the Senate. According to another Pew survey, in 2018, the most common age for all Americans was 27, while the most common age for White Americans was 58! The over-representation of Boomers and Silents in Congress means that White interests are similarly over-represented in US politics.

This isn’t happening everywhere; it’s a distinctly American problem. More from Peyser:

“If you look at other countries, they’re not similarly controlled by older politicians. I think that the explanation here is the two-party system….[A multiparty system gets] young people involved in politics, voting, organizing, running things, organizational politics, [which] means that they are able to start accumulating institutional power.”

Democrats must let younger politicians have a crack at leadership. That was the point of Sen. Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) successful push in January for a change in the Senate’s rules to allow more junior Senators to chair better and more influential subcommittees.

It was also tried in the House. Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) pushed Pelosi and House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) to be more confrontational in some committee hearings. But Porter lost the argument and is no longer a member of that Committee. However, she remains on the House Oversight Committee, and like Murphy, she has a bright future.

The Democrats have a few other young stars that can become future national leaders. In 2016, Frank Bruni showcased a few in the NYT. Among others, he mentioned Stacy Abrams, Julian Castro, Pete Buttigieg, Hakeem Jefferies, and Gina Raimondo. Two (Buttigieg and Raimondo) are now in Biden’s cabinet, while Abrams and Jefferies are already powerful Party leaders.

Several House members, including Jamie Raskin, David Cicilline and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are emerging leaders who help skew the Party younger, but change will be slow. From Peyser:

“We have not yet reached the peak of Boomer culture. We’re going to see the highest number of people turning 65 in US history in 2023,”

By 2028, Millennials and Generation Z will make up almost exactly half of eligible voters. In other words, things will change, but only as the Boomer generation retires from politics, and when we actively help convert eligible voters into registered voters.

Increasing their number could pivot on the fate of HR-1 in the Senate. It would ease the way for more young people to participate in politics, since it requires every state to create systems for automatic, same-day and online voter registration. That could significantly reduce the biggest barrier to more young people voting in American elections: our complex registration system. So far, fewer younger voters have been willing, or able to navigate it.

Strategically, the Republicans will continue trying to suppress voting, while also trying to woo more Boomers to their side. Democrats will work to expand the voter rolls and also get them to turn out, particularly in swing states.

Younger voters are likely to be more progressive than the older Democrats. But even the oldsters in the Party will follow them, as Biden is doing today.

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Monday Wake Up Call – February 15, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Nauset Light, Cape Cod, MA  – February 2021 photo by Michael Blanchette photography

The impeachment trial is behind us, but the Big Lie of the 2020 election, that there was massive voting fraud, remains with us. That Lie is propelling Republicans in many states to try to minimize, or end entirely, mail-in voting.

Republicans have reason to worry. Mail-in voting alone constituted nearly half the votes cast in the 2020 election, a significant increase from previous years. This chart from 538 shows the remarkable decline in same-day voting in America:

Traditional same day, in-person voting has dropped from more than 90% of ballots cast in the 1990s to 60% in 2016, to just 28% in 2020. Early in-person and vote-by-mail now accounts for 71% of total voting.

Overall, despite the Big Lie, early and by mail voting was a remarkable success. It was less prone to errors than expected, and had almost zero documented fraud. As expected, 538 reports that absentee votes broke blue, Election Day votes, red. They only have data for 15 of the 50 states, but it is consistent:

“Biden won the absentee vote in 14 out of the 15 states (all but Texas), and Trump won the Election Day vote in 14 out of the 15 as well (all but Connecticut).”

Trump used this historic change in voting patterns to claim that Democrats used mail ballots to steal the election. Now, in a backlash to the historic trends in voter turnout, Republicans are again looking to make it more difficult to vote.

A new report by the Brennan Center for Justice shows that legislators in 33 states have introduced 165 bills to restrict voting rights. The proposals primarily seek to: a) limit mail voting access; b) impose stricter voter ID requirements; c) slash voter registration opportunities; and d) enable more aggressive voter roll purges.

Many of these bills parrot the same lies Trump used to claim the election was stolen. And they’re sponsored by the same state officials who backed Trump’s efforts to reverse the results of the election.

Remember how narrow the Biden win was: he won three states by a combined margin of 43,560 votes: Arizona (10,457 votes), Georgia (12,636 votes), and Wisconsin (20,467 votes). These three states have 37 electoral votes, and had Trump won all three, the Electoral College would have been tied, 269 to 269. Then the House would have determined the winner, with each state delegation getting one vote. Since the Republicans hold a majority of state delegations, Trump would have won a second term.

It was worse. The WaPo reports that

“Republicans came, at most, 43,000 votes from winning each of the three levers of power.”

Just 32,000 votes would have flipped control of the House to Republicans, while 14,000 votes would have kept control of the Senate in Republican hands. The Republicans have a built-in structural advantage in all three political levers of power: In the House it’s gerrymandering; in the Senate it’s the population imbalance favoring rural states; and in the White House, it’s the Electoral College.

So, beating back voting restrictions has to be a top priority.

Republicans have been restricting voting for years. We were lucky that state and local election officials acted in the best interests of the people and the country. That may not happen next time, so these anti-democratic pieces of legislation must be highlighted publicly and fought tooth-and-nail.

Think for a minute about last week’s impeachment trial: 34 GOP senators representing just 14.5% of the US population can block the conviction of an impeached president. Said another way, the 57 senators who voted to convict Trump represent 76.7 million more Americans than the 43 senators who voted to acquit him.

We should also remember that every state sets its own rules when it comes to voting and counting the votes. And we’ll soon see the impact of Republican gerrymandering, once the 2020 census is complete. The long-term solution is a Constitutional amendment that finally establishes that all citizens have the right to vote, and describes the approved methods of voting.

Time to wake up America! Voting reform must be a top priority just behind beating the Coronavirus and getting kids back in school. To help you wake up, listen to John Fogerty perform his newest, “Weeping In The Promised Land“, released this January:

Partial Lyrics:

Forked-tongued pharaoh, behold he comes to speak

Weeping in the Promised Land

Hissing and spewing, it’s power that he seeks

Weeping in the Promised Land

With dread in their eyes, all the nurses are crying

So much sorrow, so much dying

Pharaoh keep a-preaching but he never had a plan

Weeping in the Promised Land

Weeping in the Promised Land

This is another very powerful video, a must-watch.

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Monday Wake Up Call – MLK Jr. Day -January 18, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Third Selma March, 1965 – photo by Charles Fentress Jr  shows Frank Calhoun, 16, of Meridian, MS, his face smeared with white suntan lotion and the word “VOTE” written on his forehead.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. helped lead marchers on March 21 to March 25 from Selma, Alabama to the state capital in Montgomery. It was their third attempt after a brutal crackdown by police on their first try on March 7, that caused the injuries that resulted in calling the first march “Bloody Sunday.”

On Aug. 6, President Lyndon Johnson signed the national Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 2013, the Supreme Court gutted the VRA, with its decision in Shelby County vs. Holder.

Since Martin Luther King Jr delivered his iconic “I have a dream” speech in August 1963, the number of Black Americans elected to the US Congress has dramatically increased. But it took until 2019, more than 54 years later, for the share of Black members serving in the House of Representatives to equal the percentage of Black Americans in the US population (12%).

To date, only seven states have sent a Black representative to the US Senate, and many states have never elected a Black representative to either House of Congress.

Here’s a look at Black representation in every US Congress since 1963:

A few words on the Voting Rights Act of 1965: Since the Voting Rights Act was gutted in 2013, 1,688 polling places have been shuttered in states previously bound by the Act’s preclearance requirement. Texas officials closed 750 polling places. Arizona and Georgia were almost as bad. Unsurprisingly, these closures were mostly in communities of color.

In December 2019, the House passed HR 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, now named the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, to restore the safeguards of the original VRA. It’s been collecting dust on Mitch McConnell’s desk ever since. He and his GOP colleagues continue to sit idly by as Republican state officials suppress the vote with no accountability.

If your vote didn’t count, they wouldn’t be trying so hard to suppress it. There’s no telling what change we’ll be able to make once we win the battle for voting rights.

So, time to wake up America! Change has to come. The fight didn’t start with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and it didn’t end with John Lewis. The fight continues. To help you wake up, listen again to Sam Cooke’s “A Change Gonna Come”. It was released as a single in December 1964.

Cooke was inspired by hearing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”, and was also moved by Dr. King’s August 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. But it was Cooke’s experience in October 1963, when he and his entourage were turned away from a whites-only Holiday Inn in Shreveport, Louisiana, despite having reservations – that directly triggered him to write “A Change is Gonna Come.”

Change” was released as a single two weeks after Cooke’s murder at age 33 on Dec. 11, 1964. It was quickly embraced by civil rights activists.

Still relevant, in so many ways, it’s possible to see it as a comprehensive review of the Trump administration. The linked video is as powerful to watch as the lyrics to Cooke’s song are to hear:

 

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Georgia and the $2,000 Stimulus Check

The Daily Escape:

Mt Hood with lavender, from upper Hood River Valley, OR –  photo by Greg Boratyn

Readers of this blog are well aware of the importance of the US Senate run-off races in Georgia. Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are facing off against GOP incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.

Recent analysis by FiveThirtyEight places Warnock ahead of Loeffler by .1% and Perdue ahead of Ossoff by .8%, but who trusts polls anymore?

Early voting in Georgia has been heavy, with 2.3 million votes already cast. So far, the demographics show that these early voters are skewing younger and more diverse than in the November election. Possibly troubling for Republicans is that people aren’t voting early in traditionally Republican counties like they have in the past. And since the early voting period ends soon because of the New Year holiday, the pressure will be on to boost turnout on Election Day, January 5.

Also possibly helping Democrats is a ruling that two Georgia counties must reverse their decision to purge thousands from voter rolls in advance of the January 5 runoff election. Georgia federal judge Leslie Abrams Gardner said in an order filed late on Monday that these two counties appeared to have improperly relied on unverified change-of-address information to invalidate voter registrations:

“Defendants are enjoined from removing any challenged voters in Ben Hill and Muscogee Counties from the registration lists on the basis of National Change of Address data,”

The judge is the sister of Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams. Before breaking into a happy dance, it’s good to remember that this order applies to only about 4,000 registrations, the vast majority of which are in Muscogee County. Biden won the county in November.

The runoff has seen record-breaking fundraising. Ossoff and Warnock each have raised more than $100 million in two months, more than their conservative opponents. The Democrats were powered by small donations collected from across the country, with nearly half of the funds coming from people who donated less than $200.

For Perdue and Loeffler, smaller donations accounted for less than 30% of what they raised. However, we need to remember the hard lessons of Jaime Harrison (NC), Sara Gideon (ME), and Amy McGrath (KY). These Democratic candidates out-raised their Republican incumbent opponents, and all lost by double digits in their races.

Ossoff and Warnock are still “sounding the alarm” about their ability to keep pace with GOP spending. They’re calling for a “significant increase” in grassroots donations to prevent them running out of money, as GOP outside groups are outspending Democratic groups.

Both Parties want to shift from TV to direct get-out-the-vote contact in the last days before the election.

But there’s an additional outside force that may play into the results in Georgia. Given the overwhelming popularity of increasing relief checks from $600 to $2,000, Trump has placed Senate Republicans in a brutal position. The House has passed a $2000 relief package, and now it is up to the Senate whether to take it up, or not.

Bernie Sanders (I-VT), is playing this one beautifully:

“Sen. Bernie Sanders will filibuster an override of President Donald Trump’s defense bill veto unless the Senate holds a vote on providing $2,000 direct payments to Americans.”

This puts the ball in Mitch McConnell’s court, and it will be interesting to see where he goes. He seems to have three options:

  1. Call Sanders’s bluff by demanding that Democrats provide enough votes for cloture and the subsequent veto override. McConnell will say that if they fail to do so, he’ll let the Defense bill die while pinning the blame on the Democrats.
  2. Lump the extra stimulus with Trump’s demand for action against the big tech firms. This would push consideration of the measure into the next Congress.
  3. Alternatively, McConnell can hold a vote on the bigger stimulus checks.

On Tuesday McConnell single-handedly blocked consideration of the House $2000 bill, but that was just the first step in a series of Senate parliamentary moves that are likely to take the rest of the week.

Loeffler and Perdue decided to support the extra stimulus. That was an easy call, once they knew McConnell would block it initially. They were joined by Sens Hawley (R-MO), Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen Deb Fischer (R-NE). If all Senate Dems support it, they would need seven more Republicans to move forward.

Whether the extra relief bill passes or fails, there’s a winning message for Ossoff and Warnock to hammer: I want $2k, you want $2k, the Democrats in the House want $2k, and the Dems in the Senate want $2k. Heck, even Trump wants $2k. The only people who don’t want you to have $2k are Republicans.

If you don’t vote for the Democrats, you’ll never see any more stimulus money.

That’s the way to turn a loss in the Senate into control of the Senate on January 5.

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Georgia’s Senate Runoffs

The Daily Escape:

Western Montana – November 2020 photo by Jeff Parker

Republicans told us that once the Electoral College voted, Trump and the GOP would finally recognize the results of the presidential election. But, with only a few exceptions, that didn’t happen. If you are a Republican and are still silent, you are assaulting our democracy.

Today, let’s talk about Georgia’s Senate runoff elections to be held on January 5. Biden was in Georgia on Tuesday to help Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock with their races against Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Both Loeffler and Perdue continue to say that Trump won in Georgia.

They are among the dead-enders who say the Georgia presidential election was rigged. Loeffler and Perdue are trying to walk a tightrope, supporting claims of election fraud, even as they try to push for higher Republican turnout in January than they recorded in November.

Perdue finished ahead of Ossoff by 88,000 votes in November. Ossoff got 47.9% of the total vote, but had 100,000 fewer votes than Biden. There has only been limited polling for the runoff, and that shows the race to be a toss-up. Real Clear Politics (RCP) has Perdue up by .5% in the averages of recent polls.

In November, Loeffler lost to Warnock by 403k votes. However, former Republican Congressman Doug Collins was also in the race, and he received 980k votes, so a Warnock win is far from certain. Recent polling by RCP has Warnock up by 1%, another toss-up.

Warnock has never held political office, but he’s well known in Georgia as the senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was also pastor. In a state where about 30% of registered voters are African American, and about 47% are people of color that could be pivotal.

Ossoff who has run unsuccessfully before, also hasn’t held office. From Miles Coleman at Sabato’s Crystal Ball: (brackets by Wrongo)

“One of the reasons Ossoff fell short when he ran for Congress in 2017 is, he didn’t get the type of Black turnout that he needed…Now, with Warnock as [a kind of ] running mate, it may help with Black turnout.”

Ossoff would be the Senate’s youngest member and it’s only millennial. He has a strong organization and has proven strength in the Atlanta suburbs. Like Wrongo, Ossoff is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. And unlike Wrongo, he also has a master’s degree from the London School of Economics.

Georgia has changed electorally in recent years because of in-migration from the North, and by the massive voter-registration drive led by Stacey Abrams. The effects of these forces showed when Biden beat Trump for the first Democratic win by a presidential candidate in 28 years.

The key question is whether without Trump on the ticket, Republicans who crossed over to vote for Biden might return to the Republican candidates. It’s always tough to knock off an incumbent, but Ossoff and Warnock are trying to do just that in a state where Republicans historically win runoffs.

They win runoffs because Georgia’s runoff system was established by segregationists to prevent Black voters from solidifying behind one candidate while White voters split their allegiance in a multi-candidate race. Warnock’s race shows what the segregationists had in mind. Warnock led the race with 33% of the votes, while Loeffler and Collins together accounted for 46%.

This time around, the expectation is that both Ossoff and Warnock win or both will lose.

Funding the Republicans isn’t a problem:

“Billionaire Republicans on Wall Street have been opening their wallets to…protect David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler’s Senate seats in January 5’s high-stakes runoff in Georgia….Two super PACs are planning to spend about $80 million on ads and other efforts….Among the donors are…Stephen Schwarzman, of Blackstone Group, and Kenneth Griffin, of Citadel LLC…Last month, Schwarzman…contributed $15m and Griffin donated $10m to the PAC; while earlier in the year, the PAC received $20m from Schwarzman and $25m from Griffin.”

Not a surprise, since Loeffler’s husband Sprecher, chairs the New York Stock Exchange.

The LA Times reports that taken together, over $400 million has been spent, or committed by all of the candidates’ campaigns, their Parties and outside backers.

Monday was the first day for early voting in Georgia’s runoffs. All told, 482,250 votes were recorded, according to the Georgia secretary of state. That is way more than the 128,000 votes cast on the first day of voting on Nov. 3. It will be a very close election.

The reality is that Democrats will need to show up in droves and vote like the future of the country depends upon it.

Because it does.

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Monday Wake Up Call – November 9, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Starr’s Mill, GA – photo by Keith D Leman

We’ve bought some time, so let’s make sure we use it. Don’t drop your guard, people, we still have work to do after we’ve all had a turn at dancing in the streets.

The vote suppression, the sabotage of the US Postal Service, the attempted creation of a false narrative of vote fraud, all was overwhelmed by what will turn out to be nearly the 80 million Democratic voters.

Yet, many professional Democrats are in the throes of mortification. Why wasn’t the massive turnout an immediate repudiation of the deeply racist and misogynist Trump? Why didn’t the numbers create a blue tsunami?

You know how this goes: If Trump had squeaked out an Electoral College win while losing the popular vote, the GOP response would be: We have a mandate. But the real story is that Biden rebuilt the Blue Wall, flipped Arizona, Georgia, and NE-2, while winning the largest popular vote in history. Naturally, the Dems say: Oh no!

Biden won the White House. We’re going to have new cabinet members who won’t be corrupt. We’re going to have a new Attorney General and a civil rights division that won’t sit on its hands. We may get traction on climate change by rejoining the Paris Agreement. With a competent Secretary of State, we may rejoin the Group of Six trying to create a nuclear weapons-free Iran.

So, cool it. Our descent into authoritarianism has been averted for at least the next four years. Our democracy, such as it is, will be taken off life support. These are things worth celebrating.

Biden and Harris spoke on Saturday night about healing. They were brave words, but Biden has a big challenge trying to knit the country back together. Even now, the silence of Republican politicians is deafening. Why aren’t they stepping forward to congratulate the new president-elect?

Surely they know that Trump’s legal strategy is bogus, and doomed to fail. The Republicans in the Senate, with the exception of Mitt Romney, are playing along with Trump’s farcical claims of election fraud. So how will the healing happen? From Charlie Pierce: (brackets by Wrongo)

“Healing only works if the patient wants to be healed, and I fear that question is still very much open. Some 70 million of our fellow citizens wanted four more years of what we’ve had since 2016…They are convinced now that they’ve been cheated out of four more years of [that]….And they’re angry about it. As much as Biden talks about being a president for all of America, and he is unquestionably sincere about it, many of those 70 million people are completely unreachable.”

It’s important to remember that a person is rarely “cured” of cancer. Rather, doctors tell us to say it is “in remission”. Well, right now, fascism in America could be going into remission. The most dangerous symptom (Donald Trump) will be leaving power in January, but the underlying condition remains. Biden will need help from the Republican side of the aisle to bring a substantial number of our anti-Biden, anti-Democrat citizens to consider giving civility a chance.

Many Trumpers will be resistant to take a step toward a Democrat. They are very sad. They want us to really listen to them, because they have been so completely shut out of the discourse for the past four years. What do they think? What do they want from Biden?

Let’s not interpret a Biden win as an opportunity to indulge in the political equivalent of comfort food. We shouldn’t feel reassured or validated. There is nothing validating about 70+ million votes cast for Donald Trump. The struggle continues.

Our sense of purpose should be stronger than ever before. Per the GOP’s proven system, Trump will hand Biden a terrible economy, and quite possibly a pandemic for the ages. Biden will be pilloried, vilified and obstructed from the moment he takes power.

Yet, Wrongo is relieved, and we should be grateful.

But the Georgia runoffs loom in January, and the midterms are just 24 months away. So we shouldn’t complacent. Democrats happily enjoyed the Obama victory in 2008. We patted ourselves on the back for far too long, while the Republicans organized in earnest. Their eight years of work led to what today is the belligerent, fact-defying Trump coalition. Preventing 2022 from becoming another  2010 starts now.

So, time to wake up, Democrats! Trump isn’t going away, and neither is Trumpism, as shown by how few Republican politicians will congratulate the president-elect. To help shake you awake, listen to Taj Mahal sing “Your Mind’s on Vacation (and your mouth is working overtime)”, written by Mose Allison in 1976.

Whose mind’s on vacation while his mouth has been working overtime, Donny?

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging, President-Elect Biden Edition

The AP declares it:

And you know what AP spelled backwards is? PA! Checkmate, you pieces of Trump! Wrongo will return to his usual complaining sometime next week when we start contemplating what comes next.

After four years of chaos, dysfunction, a huge dose of racism, over 230,000 dead from the virus, and massive job loss, why did nearly half this country vote for Trump? Why did half of us want four more years of his bullshit?

That we know the winner on Saturday morning, in the middle of a pandemic with a bunch of new voting rules that were written on the fly, is remarkable. Everything went really well (in the sense of knowing the results, not necessarily being happy with all of them). Enough with the slow vote counting memes.

To win, you have to finish first:

They don’t stop the count when you’re on the mats:

Trump’s lawyers try an unusual strategy:

Republicans are reduced to hunting in the dark:

Trump’s mantra:

Can’t wait for the Inauguration:

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Saturday Soother – Another Election Hot Take, November 7, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Fall Giving Way to winter, VT – October 2020 photo by Jennifer Hannux (hat tip Jeri S.)

Trump’s 17 minute debacle on our election process reminds Wrongo of FDR’s advice about public speaking: “Be sincere, be brief, be seated“. Trump wasn’t any of them.

If Wrongo was to ask how a specific county voted, giving you the following information, what would you say? This county is 96% Latino, the most Latino county in the US. Its poverty rate is 35% and its unemployment rate is 7.9%. It is also among the poorest counties in the US. Leading up to the election this fall, the county had a surge in Coronavirus cases that overwhelmed its only hospital, a 45 bed facility.

So, how would this county vote in 2020? In 2016, Clinton won it by 60%. In 2020, Biden won it by only 5%. We’re talking about Starr County, TX. Here’s a map with the 2020 election results superimposed:

This didn’t escape notice in the local paper, the Valley Central News. They quoted Political Science Professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Dr. Natasha Altema, who said that the “defund the police” meme may have cost the Democrats: (Brackets by Wrongo)

“…we’ve seen throughout the Valley that law enforcement—whether if it’s in the form of policing or CBP [US Customs and Border Protection] —is very prominent here along the border”

Altema also said that local lack of understanding about the Black Lives Matter movement may have also caused a push-back:

“The association of Black Lives Matters with the Democrats would be a turnoff—right? Because of…lack of understanding or misinformation,”

BTW, all local races were won by Democrats.

This was a dramatic swing towards Trump in four years, particularly since this is predominantly a Mexican-American community that lives in a border town. The question has to be: Are we witnessing a dramatic and historic realignment?

This can be broadened to the entire country. Trump underperformed with white men, but made gains with every other demographic. Some 26% of his votes came from nonwhite Americans, the highest percentage for a Republican since 1960. As Matt Taibbi says:

“Trump doubled his support with Black women, moving from 4% in 2016 to 8%, while upping his support among Black men from 13% to 18%. Remember, this was after four years of near-constant denunciations of Trump as not just a racist, but the leader of a literal white supremacist movement…”

Earlier this week, Wrongo introduced the idea that people across demographic groups liked the policies of the Economic Left, but disliked the policies of the Cultural Left. Biden isn’t really a part of the Economic or Cultural Left, but he allowed himself to be called a “socialist” by the Economic Right. He was tagged with approving of “defund the police” by the Cultural Right. We know that the Democratic Party platform does not embrace “socialism.” Nor does Biden.

Don’t forget, the Democrats nominated exactly the candidate the Party centrists wanted. That didn’t change what Republicans said about him. Biden was the moderate in the race, but Republicans still called him a radical socialist.

The Dems need to make some political changes, or they’ll lose Starr County (and more) next time. But that requires a rethink of its policies toward working Americans to include: Health care, good jobs, safe streets, free education. The main policies supported by the Cultural Left do not look like winners in heartland America.

Finally, it’s bizarre that after all this time, Democrats can’t defend what they believe from the attacks by the Right. Some Dems continue to believe that if they change what they believe, it will change what Republicans say about them. It won’t. Changing to policies that align with what average Americans need may fashion a durable coalition of Rural and Urban voters.

Maybe by the time you read this, Biden will have been (nominally) declared the next President, subject to the legal skirmishes Trump has planned for him. Those legal battles probably won’t start until next week, so try to relax today with our Saturday Soother.

Temperatures will be in the 70’s on the fields of Wrong this weekend. That means that Wrongo will be putting up our deer fencing to protect Ms. Right’s plantings from becoming deer food when cold winter arrives.

We will try to de-stress from the election season, along with everyone else. To get us off to a good start, listen to the late Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” performed live by Eddie Vetter and Beyoncé in 2015 at the Global Citizen Festival. This performance includes a short part of a speech by Nelson Mandela. The song is more important now than ever:

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They’re Still Counting

The Daily Escape:

Truth spoken by an unknown pavement Plato

We’re all still waiting with fingers crossed as the vote tallies slowly grow amidst the remaining battleground states, and the blizzard of lawsuits by Trump across the country. Can the guy who wrote “Art of the Deal” close the deal?

It looks like we’ll know tomorrow.

It’s interesting that Trump is saying “Stop the count” on Twitter, because if all of the uncalled states really did stop the count, he’d lose, since Biden is ahead in Arizona and Nevada, which would give him 270 electoral votes.

What Trump really means is “Stop the count in states where I am ahead, but keep counting in states where I am behind.” Hard to have it both ways, Donnie boy.

Trump’s words have incited some of his followers to show up at ballot-counting sites, armed in some cases, to scream at poll workers. That has necessitated local law enforcement to show up to keep the counting sites secure and the poll workers safe.

Despite that, most of America understands we have to follow the math: Counties with small populations finish their vote counting early, and they tend to lean “right”. Counties with big populations take longer to count. They also have more mail-in votes to count. These are usually urban areas that usually lean “left”. What initially looks like a win for the “right” can slowly erode over time, as the higher populated areas finish counting and their report.

That isn’t proof of a conspiracy to steal an election, as maybe 10% of the Trump-faithful think. It’s been going on for decades, even if Trump has just recently discovered it. As Judd Legum notes, Trump’s various lawsuits sound ominous, raising the possibility of court decisions that could overturn the results of the election:

“But if you look at the details of these cases…they are far less menacing. They appear mostly designed to generate headlines that Trump is contesting the outcome, rather than cases that could determine the outcome of the race.”

Still, this will take at least a week, possibly two weeks to resolve. So let’s have a few hot takes on what just went down.

One key 2020 takeaway is that we had an election with what should have been a game-changing turnout, and instead, it arguably hurt Democrats down ballot. But it allowed the Dems to (probably) win the presidency with split-ticket voter support.

Second, Trump had built a broader coalition than we realized. It does seem clear that the Biden campaign had an ineffective engagement operation with Black and Latino voters. From CNN here’s a breakdown of voter share:

Trump lost support of many White men (down 13 points), but did better with White women (up three points) than in 2016. The bigger story was Biden underperformed Clinton’s margin of victory among voters of color by seven points as Trump did substantially better with both Black men and women.

Trump’s performance among Latinos should alarm Democrats. It helped him keep Florida, which has many Cuban-Americans and Puerto Ricans. But he trails in Arizona, which has more Mexican-Americans.

Biden’s argument in the primaries was that he could recapture some of the White, working class voters who went to Trump in 2016. He actually out-performed Clinton with both White men and women without college degrees. He made inroads with White college educated men, but underperformed Clinton among White college educated women.

Third, for all the effort that a lot of smart people have put into it, polling failed us again. There’s too much biased and missing data. People who don’t trust the polls don’t talk to pollsters. Sometimes they flat out lie. In battleground states, polls were consistently 3-6% over-optimistic for the Democrats in both 2016 and 2020. What does it say when people are dumb enough to vote for Trump, but smart enough to lie to a pollster?

Finally, we’re living in some horrible mashup of 2016 (a shocking defeat) and 2000 (a long drawn-out agony). We want answers but somebody is saying “You can’t handle the truth” (yet).

Let’s close by listening to the late Tom Petty. Here’s “The Waiting” (is the hardest part) played live by Tom Petty along with Eddie Vetter of Pearl Jam:

These lyrics sum up where we are right now:

The waiting is the hardest part

Every day you see one more card

You take it on faith, you take it to the heart

The waiting is the hardest part

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