Pay attention. This may not happen again for a long time: I’m going to praise something President-elect Biden said during his victory speech.
“Let’s give each other a chance,” He said. “It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric. To lower the temperature. To see each other again. To listen to each other again. To make progress, we must stop treating our opponents as our enemy. We are not enemies. We are Americans.”
Nice words and Biden probably means them. They are a variation on Jefferson’s, “We are all Republicans. We are all Federalists,” and Obama’s “We’re not red states and blue states; we’re all Americans, standing up together for the red, white, and blue.”
Words of unity. When politicians call for “unity” it normally means they want their opponents to be quiet and roll over. However, the nature of this election means that to accomplish much of anything, Biden will have to work with his critics. His administration might approach bipartisan. The last president who did that well was Bill Clinton, who I like to refer to as a moderately successful Republican president.
It is helpful for Biden to say such words since America continues to be politically divided in a toxic sense and both sides need to learn how to get along with each other. Hard to do since both sides regard each other as members of Satan’s hosts. It’s difficult for the nearly half of the nation’s population that Hillary once painted as “Deplorables” to forget that Biden called them “racists” for being Trump supporters. That proved to be an awful lot of people, even if they aren’t a majority. It’s a population that you can’t cancel, or put in reeducation camps, or disregard. Attention must be paid.
It was not helpful that Trump, as much as he did so many things that I approved of, never accepted that he was president of everybody. Not just those who voted for him. Or that he branded anyone who disagreed with him as socialist. Of course, just because you call all your critics socialists doesn’t mean there aren’t some actual socialists out there.
The reaction by loyal Trumpsters and by much of the left to the realities of the election is not to accept it, or to blame it on election irregularities or uninformed voters. Trump and company don’t accept that he lost the presidency. The Left doesn’t accept that the voters who packed the president off to private citizen-dom also completely repudiated the Democratic vision of a radical transformation of society. The last time I checked the election results, the House of Representatives is almost equally divided and so is the Senate.
The national electorate performed an operation of surgical precision. It removed Trump, but didn’t put his bitterest enemies in charge of the country. Not that they won’t try one more time, in two months.
As Chuck Schumer, minority leader of the Senate, put it as he tried to persuade Georgia voters to “flip the Senate” on January 5: “Now we take Georgia, then we change the world.” Bold words, but unlikely to sway Georgia voters who voted to give Trump a ticket to ride out of town, but don’t necessarily want to board the radical transformative train themselves. In other words, there was plenty of ticket-splitting. Americans love divided government. Our tolerance for efforts to “fundamentally transform society” is limited.
The left’s reaction to the fact that Trump and Republicans did better among blacks, Asians and Latinos than any GOP candidate since Richard Nixon in 1960 is a variation of their traditional mantra: “When we win, the people have spoken and when we lose the people were duped.” Or as one pundit’s headline declares, “Too many black and Latino voters got conned by Trump.”
I suspected this might happen over a year ago, when I had several conversations with a black friend of mine who was a closet Trump supporter. I asked him if he knew of others, and he said yes, emphatically. Blacks who would vote with their pocketbooks. Of course, anecdotes are just that—but several thousand anecdotes later you have data.
This could prove over the long run that the predictions that Republicans and conservatives were doomed by demographics and the rise of non-whites were just wish fulfillment by liberals. Biden to the contrary notwithstanding, you can vote for Trump and be black . . . or brown—and a lot did. Demographics are no longer destiny when it comes to American politics.
It is clear that Trump is the Napoleonic figure of our time, the Once and Future King. Off to exile in Elba after suffering a defeat but not total political destruction, he will be back to fight some future Waterloo, probably in 2024. Like Bonapartists of the 19th century France, Trumpists may be with us for a while.
This will drive the media and the left insane. Which will be fun in and of itself. However, the delectable pleasures of owning the libs have their limits, like the old gentleman who ate a whole box of brown sugar, and grumpily observed, “It doesn’t taste sweet anymore.”