The tyranny of the minority party is over.
Make no mistake — the Republicans are the minority party. In 2016, Trump was elected with 46.1% of the popular vote. Republicans did eke out a narrow victory in the number of votes cast in 2016 House races — 49.1% to 48.0% — but not this time. Granted, the Democratic margin this time is smaller than expected — currently 51.1% to 47.2%. In gubernatorial races, it was 49.2 to 48.3. (The weirdest result — Democrats lead 56.8% to 41.6% in Senate voting but will lose at least two seats, likely more.)
The media will keep pushing the “polarization” narrative. That’s not accurate. We have one sort-of “pole” in the progressive/socialist wing of the Democratic Party, but it actually overlaps a little bit with the populists who voted for Trump. Last night proved we still have an awful lot of centrists. Then we have one “pole” that is rooted in hate and preys on fear, ignorance and prejudice.
Remember the 2016 narrative suggesting Trump was all bluster. “Oh, he talks that way, but he’ll really be a reasonable guy who reaches out to everyone. He won’t threaten LGBT rights. He’ll call on independents and Democrats to help him govern. Maybe he’ll even nominate Merrick Garland or even Barack Obama to the Supreme Court.”
Oops. Instead, we have a guy who makes no effort whatsoever to fulfill even the basic civility of the office. Not with Congress. Not with our international allies. Not even with any voters outside the 40-ish percent of people who have stood by him. Again — we’re talking about a minority party.
And the country said yesterday it will not put up with that.
We’re not “polarized.” We don’t have rabid enthusiasm for the Democratic Party. We have pockets of people, mostly progressive, who will line up behind certain candidates. But that only goes so far — witness the resounding Democratic loss in the gubernatorial race is overwhelmingly blue Maryland, where one of the last reasonable Republicans (Larry Hogan) wiped out the surprise progressive winner of the Democratic primary, Ben Jealous.
And Trump isn’t likely to take last night’s results to heart and reach out to the majority. Here’s Republican-turned-independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin:
My service with the Central Intelligence Agency taught me that leaders committed to self-preservation through authoritarianism do not curtail their efforts to dismantle checks on their power under the threat of accountability. They hasten them.
We have maybe 30% of the country that buys into the Trumpistas’ scapegoating of everything from asylum-seekers to George Soros. We have another 10% or so that desperately believes, in defiance of all evidence, that manufacturing and coal jobs are the future, not just the past. And then we have some people who’ll vote for their local Republicans out of unquestioned party loyalty or because they’re actually decent people. (Welcome back to the center, Mitt Romney, and I hope you’ll be a voice of reason in the Senate.)
And we’re stuck with a Senate that may resemble the general population less and less. Millennials aren’t just voting at the ballot box — they’re voting with their feet. (I’ve written about this before — Millennials are leaving small towns, though it’s interesting that the ones who stay tend to go into politics.)
Everyone else is looking for a direction. It’s exhausting to be campaigning against hate rather than campaigning for something.
Maybe something more positive would win over the rural voters who are clearly looking for something else. Trump and company are buying off rural voters with the notion that he’s looking out for their jobs. But it’s all short term. Democrats (or a more reasonable Republican) should be pushing the notion that they’re looking out for the long term and investing in their futures.
But what I’ll push here is something I’ve been pushing for a long time …
Chip away at the two-party apparatus.
Push for more races — including Electoral College decisions — to be decided by runoffs. No more “wins” with 45 percent of the vote.
Because the Founders never intended for this to happen. Let’s end with a couple of quotes:
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism.” – George Washington
“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.” – John Adams (good explanation in this link of how this quote pre-dates the U.S. Constitution)
With that, I’m getting back to all the work I have piled up, including a book deadline. And the next few Mostly Modern Media posts will be about music.