If news writers had any integrity, the headlines following the 2020 election would have read like the one on this column. Instead, the media gods who helped put Joe Biden over the top expound on why Donald Trump‘s protests are without merit and just another example of Republican sore-loserism.
The former vice president’s apparent margin of victory is not all that large. At the time this was written it was about 6 million votes out of about 150 million cast. That works out to about 4 percent and could, depending on recounts, slip lower.
In the states that appear to be making the difference—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin—Biden’s lead is extremely narrow, much as Trump’s was when he defeated former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton to win the White House in the first place. It’s hard to argue the man most of the media anointed the new American chief executive before all the votes were cast has a mandate to do much of anything.
Nonetheless, if he eventually becomes president, the calls for him to act swiftly and decisively will be frequent, loud, and—from his point of view—problematic. In the Thursday, November 19 edition of The Wall Street Journal author and political cartoonist Ted Rall argues forcefully that, without the support of progressives who held their nose and voted for him anyway, Biden wouldn’t be going back to Washington and instead would be headed back to Delaware.
Progressives who would have preferred Vermont senator Bernie Sanders may have pushed Biden past Trump in the popular vote and in the states that will determine the outcome in the electoral college, but on almost every other measure they were defeated. By a small majority, the nation indicated it may not want four more years of Trump, but it’s clearly repudiated the progressive agenda.
The GOP may have lost seats in the U.S. Senate but it’s most likely maintained control. The outcome hangs on two runoffs in Georgia—both of which the Republicans are favored to win—unless an audit of the votes pushes incumbent GOP senator David Perdue back up over 50 percent of the vote, where he was for most of election night. Right now, he’s at 49.71 percent, and the 0.3 percent he needs to avoid a runoff might be overcome just by the uncounted votes being discovered across the state.
The Republicans were also projected to lose seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Instead, they won all the top targeted races, lost no incumbents seeking reelection, and gained enough seats not only to get above 200—a crucial barrier in the battle for the majority—but to put Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s ability to control events on the floor in doubt. Enough moderate Democrats are saying privately (and thanks to some propitious leaks, publicly) that they’re not willing to walk the plank for her and the “The Squad” is in for a rough going.
Looking around the country, the Republicans picked up one governorship in 2020 (Montana) and the New Hampshire state legislature. This gives the GOP the prized “trifecta” in each state which, when added to the dozens they already had, means that while Washington is gridlocked the GOP can use states to pass the reforms they’ll take national the next time they have the White House.
At the same time the Democrats, who enlisted the substantial fundraising support of former president Barack Obama and former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder in an attempt to flip legislative chambers to Democratic control, failed everywhere they tried. They may have spent tens of millions or more in pursuit of this goal with nothing to show for it. Contrary to late predictions, the GOP held on to state legislatures in Texas and Arizona comfortably when the battle for control was expected to be a close-run thing. And they held the legislatures in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia and enough other key states that predictions are already being made that, based solely on the upcoming reapportionment of U.S. House seats among the states, the Republicans are headed to a decade-long majority. No wonder Mrs. Pelosi is saying this is her last term as speaker.
Even at the lawmaking level, progressivism was crushed. Voters in California, who went for Biden over Trump by about two to one, rejected an effort to repeal the 1996 Proposition 209 that prohibits the state from considering race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment, education and contracting. At the same, in progressive Colorado, voters said “Yes” to a cut in the state income tax rate from 4.63 percent to 4.55 percent. In Illinois, voters rejected a measure to establish a graduated income tax and in Montana voters limited the ability of local governments to interfere with issuing of “concealed carry” firearms permits.
If there’s one takeaway from the 2020 election, it’s that, despite the aggressive support it received from donors, elected officials, candidates for office and the mainstream media, progressivism is on the decline. Heck, Joe “I am the Democratic Party” Biden even rejected it while debating Donald Trump. The course is set and if the new president—whoever it is—is smart enough to follow it then the sailing should be smooth. If not, it’s stormy weather ahead.
It’s not enough to kick conservatives off of Twitter. Narrative control is the goal. Any alternative, any other avenue of ‘freer’ speech, must be shut down.
The dominant Big Tech companies’ power to control the access and availability of information was unmasked during the Donald Trump presidency. The full extent and intent of that power has been further exposed in the 2020 election.
From Facebook, to Google, to Twitter, it is now clear that these companies have every intention of using the unprecedented control they have amassed, not to facilitate a diversity of speech and viewpoints, but to shape national narratives in the direction they prefer. Users—even those who are elected—will comply, or be banned.
Twitter, in particular, has shed any pretense of being a platform interested in facilitating free expression. In 2011, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo characterized Twitter as “the free speech wing of the free speech party.” The sentiment was echoed a year later by Tony Wang, general manager at Twitter UK, who claimed the company’s founding principles compelled it to remain “neutral” about the content its users posted.
Nearly a decade later, those sentiments have flipped. Twitter has spent the Trump years aggressing against the president, placing his tweets behind filters, blocking his press secretary, and censoring his Senate-confirmed advisors.
The platform aggressively ran interference for the Joe Biden campaign, refusing to allow a New York Post story detailing corruption in the Biden family from circulating on its platform. Users were prohibited for weeks from sharing the story, and their accounts were locked if they did.
Even the use of direct messages—Twitter’s supposedly private communication tool—was screened and filtered for wrong-think. That practice has continued outside of sharing the Hunter Biden story, casting doubt on Twitter’s claim that the company doesn’t read your direct messages. It is clear that, at least in some capacity, they do.
All of this was under the guise of preventing “misinformation” from spreading on Twitter—that, presumably, could inform voter behavior. This made it all the more bizarre when Twitter’s deeply weird CEO, Jack Dorsey, claimed while under oath to the Senate Commerce Committee that the platform has no ability to influence election outcomes.
Sen. Ted Cruz, who had asked Dorsey the question, appeared almost caught off-guard by the absurdity of the claim. Cruz responded with the obvious follow-up. If you can’t influence election outcomes, he said, then why do you moderate political content at all?
But Twitter does moderate political content, and they very clearly do so in one direction. In the wake of the election, under the guise of moderating for “misinformation” and “fomenting violence,” the platform has banned the bombastic former Trump advisor Steve Bannon for stating that he’d like to see Dr. Anthony Fauci’s “head on a pike,” while happily allowing comedian Kathy Griffin to re-post her notorious photo of a beheaded Trump.
Richard Baris, one of the few pollsters who was right about the 2020 election results, had his account blocked for tweeting his findings about voter fraud. And not just his account, but that of his business, his newsletter, and his wife. There was “no reason given,” he said in a post on Parler, where he had just opened an account.
Parler, which has grown in popularity among conservatives as a Twitter alternative, is predictably being labeled as “a threat to democracy” by CNN. It’s not enough to kick conservatives off of Twitter. Narrative control is the goal. Any alternative, any other avenue of “freer” speech, must be shut down.
Defenders of the social media platforms often do so in a vacuum. They defend Twitter’s content moderation as a private company expressing its First Amendment rights. Not only does this argument ignore that Twitter, like Facebook and Google, exercises its First Amendment rights in a privileged manner, it intentionally sidesteps the consequences Twitter’s actions have on Americans’ ability to consume news, think for themselves, and express their views away from Twitter.
Social media platforms are no longer merely independent actors, facilitating information sharing and viewpoints. Increasingly, they inform the news. Although it has a far smaller market share than Facebook and Google, Twitter has the most news-focused users and a much broader share of continuous, minute-by-minute engagement by news outlets, media elites, elected officials, and public policy intellectuals. Their engagement with the platform drives, and very much determines, news coverage.
“Though Twitter may not be a huge overall source of traffic to news websites relative to Facebook and Google, it serves a unique place in the link economy,” said a report by Nieman Labs in 2016. “News really does ‘start’ on Twitter.”
Recall the absurd story in 2017 that Trump killed an entire pond of koi fish while on an official visit in Japan. Multiple news outlets breathlessly covered the story, speculating wildly about the fish and mocking Trump. That story, which was false, began with tweets—not filed stories—from news outlets and reporters. The tweets then directedcoverage on multiple outlets.
Tucker Carlson, who has the most-watched cable news show in the country, spent the summer covering the violent elements of the Black Lives Matter protests in ways that every other network refused to do. Much of the coverage he aired on his show came from videos posted to Twitter by reporters on the ground, outside of the mainstream networks.
Earlier this month, Axios reported that newsrooms are planning “to invest more heavily in coverage of social media and internet trends as a way to observe political sentiment from a wider group of people.”
Twitter does far less to facilitate the news than it does to make it. Thus its content moderation decisions have ramifications far beyond Twitter. They echo down the corridors of what makes news in America, and who is allowed to do it, and what ordinary Americans are allowed to say about it. This means Twitter plays an outsized role in creating, gatekeeping, and sustaining the national narrative.
Twitter’s offline consequences extend beyond its manipulation of the news narrative, as Twitter is increasingly the woke mob’s favorite venue of cancellation.
Late last week, a Twitter user with minimal followers complaint-tweeted at Target because it sold a book by Abigail Shrier questioning the wisdom of promoting irreversible transgender surgery and hormone therapy for children. Target subsequently banned the book, although it was later reinstated after public outcry.The platform’s role in the viral nature of cancel culture belies the notion that these are merely ‘private platforms’ with no larger effects.
The Lincoln Project tweeted the images of two attorneys working for the Trump campaign, their emails, phone numbers, and photos alongside the phrase “make them famous.” Twitter allowed the tweet to circulate on its platform for hours before it was finally removed.
Twitter does not drive these cancellation decisions as a matter of policy, but the platform’s role in the viral nature of cancel culture belies the notion that these are merely “private platforms” with no larger effects on free speech, free thought, and free behavior in America.
They also raise troubling questions about how that role will evolve. As the left continues to push for a social credit system—that is, say or suggest wrongthink, get banned from polite society—what role will social media play as the reporting Stasi arm of the woke mob?
Big Tech has grown from a handful of Silicon Valley startups to a handful of the most powerful companies in the world, exercising unprecedented control over minds, markets, behavior, and independent thought. They are changing how we live together.
How we choose to deal with them, politically, is less a binary question of “regulation” or “government interference in business” than it is, truly, a question of the social order; of who sets the terms of social engagement. Is it a free people, speaking through their rights and representative government, or a set of corporations weaponized by an illiberal woke agenda controlling our news narrative, information gathering, and social and cultural compliance?
Let the rule of law prevail
This is a difficult time for Trump supporters. The unofficial, unelected, arrogant news media took it upon themselves to declare Joe Biden the 46th president of the United States, thereby confusing a lot of people by giving them the impression that this election is over.
That is nor true. Nothing official has changed between noon and 6 pm on November 7, 2020. Until the recounts and investigations with their resulting lawsuits have been settled, THERE ARE NO WINNERS OF THE 2020 ELECTIONS. The nominal deadline for the official announcement of the winner is December 14, 2020, when all electors are due to cast their votes. But they will not do so if there are unresolved legal actions pending.
The current federal election procedures carry a whole sequence of delayable dates for the final determination of the election results, ending up on January 6, 2021 before a joint session of Congress. Even then there is a dispute process available. Everything does have to be solved by the Presidential Inauguration date of January 20, 2021.
So, don’t be fooled by the networks, who are trying to hijack the declaration of the victor, presumably to stir up the Biden supporters. The result will be that, when the Trump faction announces their actions — which will delay the official declaration of winner — they will be discredited, discounted, and despised. If the outcome ultimately favors Mr. Trump, the hate campaign of the past 5 years, will be off and running for another term.
Our role is to stand by and let the actions of Rudy Giuliani and his team play out, knowing two things: 1) that this will all take time – possibly as much or more than the 41 days Al Gore used in 2000 before conceding. And 2) there is a true American principle being observed in all this: namely, that the rule of law will prevail. It is the American way of settling disputes, the reason we have such a sophisticated judicial system; the adversaries each bring forth the evidence they have uncovered before the open court and the court ultimately declares the victor.
America does NOT settle its disputes by violence, street protests, rioting or civil war. Those who choose such methods of protest have to be stopped by law enforcement, whether by police or National Guard. As Americans, we have supported this approach throughout the most violent summer since the Civil War. We must respect the ultimate judgement of the courts this time also – no matter the outcome.
The preliminary reports of the Senate and House elections seem to afford some measure of reassurance that, even if the Biden/Harris ticket were ultimately to win, the line of defense against their extreme agenda will be tempered by a Republican Senate and a strengthened Republican presence in the House – with still a chance to take control, depending on the outcomes of some recounts.
All said, our role right now is to relax and let the wheels of justice grind in peace.
We might be in an Obi-Wan Kenobi moment, wherein striking Trump down will make his movement more powerful than anyone can possibly imagine.
If Joe Biden walks away with a presidential victory, conservatives will have many reasons to despair. This would portend some terrifying realities about propaganda and the manipulation of public opinion, the acceptance of potential fraud, and the willingness to accept the curtailment of basic liberties.
But it need not. In fact, conservatives have reason to be quite hopeful. We might be in an Obi-Wan Kenobi moment, wherein striking Trump down will make his movement more powerful than anyone can possibly imagine. Beyond the typical takes on the election that give conservatives hope — we appear to have kept the Senate, and socialism and critical race theory lost — we have five long-term reasons to be hopeful.
At some level, the left has to be jealous. For any chance of defeating Donald Trump, look what they had to settle for: a dementia-addled, 78-year-old fossil who’s spent 47 years in the Senate as a pandering politician straight out of Central Casting. But the Democrat establishment pushed him because he polled best against Trump and, as Democrats are so quick to remind us, “science and data.”
Ah, I remember those days. I remember hearing the smart set tell us how a Herman Cain would be an abject failure as a candidate or president, so we’d better go with a traditional politician, such as John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Jeb Bush.
Then came Trump, dismantling the entire paradigm. One of the most beloved politicians in our history, he showed us how a successful American with a love for his country can do great things, things politicians have been promising for years, such as lowering unemployment for minorities, increasing wages for the working class, sticking it to communist China, creating peace in the Middle East, giving us energy independence, restructuring bad trade deals, withdrawing from foreign entanglements, and revolutionizing the federal judiciary.
Meanwhile, the Democrats get to watch a doddering hack grapple with the wily Sen. Mitch McConnell for four years, while trying to pick up the pieces of an economy they tanked to get Biden elected president and nothing else. Or maybe they’re looking forward to a President Kamala Harris doing her “Excuse me! Excuse me!” routine like that vice principal you mocked in high school.
You almost have to laugh. While they’re locked into “establishment mode” for four years, pantomiming gravitas with their whole “adults in the room” schtick to impress the seven remaining people watching CNN, the right will be having a blast retaking the House, nurturing a new generation of Trump-like candidates, and choosing another unconventional leader for president in 2024 that we actually like and don’t have to hold our noses to select. We’re done with the establishment, and it feels so liberating.
Let’s get into that new generation of conservatives. Trump brought in a significant swath of working-class voters. The Blexit movement continues, with obvious results in the increased turnout of black voters for Trump. With Trump’s Hispanic gains, can we say the whole “demography is destiny” theory officially ran out of juice at, of all places, the Rio Grande and southern Florida?
The last these demographic groups tasted of genuine Trumpism — prior to the Wuhan virus — they were doing outstanding. Now they got Biden to build his case that destroying the energy sector and subsidizing green energy will really get things going again.
Who better than an old, pandering white guy to convince young minority Americans that maybe it’s time for a second exodus from the Democrat plantation? And who will be on the sidelines with a megaphone the whole time saying, “I told you so. Remember what you had under me?”
That of course leads to our third reason for long-term hope: Trump isn’t going anywhere. This is a man who did five to six rallies a day, speaking an hour and a half at each one, for two weeks after recuperating from COVID-19. He’s also a man who hates losing, and his family is completely invested in the movement he started.
Who knows how this will translate. There’s talk of him beginning a right-leaning media outfit to compete with Fox News. Will he continue doing rallies to inspire support for a transformed Republican Party? Will he do a Grover Cleveland number and run for president again?
Whatever it is he chooses to do, he remains the same person uniquely suited to the task at hand, of disrupting the status quo in Washington. He clearly has the support of half the country. Many love him like they’ve never loved any other politician because of how he spoke up for them. That doesn’t end.
The left displayed a real logic problem this year. I became alert to this problem when I heard Biden and others blame Trump for the COVID-19 deaths. Huh? Do people really fall this easily for the “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy, the logic that “X is president during Y, therefore X caused Y”?
Of course they do. That defines the leftist mind, the hive mind, the belief that agency doesn’t reside in the individual but in collective systems. This is how they think. Consequently, they must run those systems. They must have power.
Their attraction to the swamp comes with an underlying presumption of incredible self-importance. They manage the economy. They keep peace in the world. They take care of us all, good people that they are.
So what do you suppose it means when precisely nothing happens 10 years from now, about the time the world is predicted to implode from climate change? If the left is in charge of things, you know exactly what that will mean: “Thanks to President Ocasio-Cortez’s extreme measures, we’ve saved the world from catastrophe.” We’ll get a preview of this propaganda when a President Biden announces the end of the pandemic due to his wise governance.
This is why they not only needed to win this year but win big, big enough to enact the Green New Deal. That, in turn, could only be sustained with court-packing and a few new states to ensure a friendly Senate for the foreseeable future. With each radical measure, they would use the COVID-19 response as a template. “We came together before to defeat coronavirus; let’s do the same to defeat climate change!”
Alas, this is not going to happen thanks to the GOP’s other 2020 election victories. Without new states and new senators, the midterms will remain seasons of GOP success. It’s difficult to imagine the next presidential election generating excitement for a second Harris or Biden term, at least enough to create coattails for a Democrat takeover of the Senate and House.
2030 will come with glorious weather, and the left will have had nothing to do with it. After a string of exposed lies — Russia, COVID-19 “science,” systemic racism, polls, climate change — how soon before the nation becomes wise to the fact that leftism is synonymous with lying?
The answer to that last question gets to the American DNA. Americans distrust power. The left does well appealing to that distrust, promoting a false narrative blaming the “powers that be” whenever they’re out of power. They milk that “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy for everything it’s worth. It comes more naturally to them than it does to the right.
How often, these past four years, did the leftist mind resort to “Orange Man Bad!” and a primal scream into the cosmos every time their car didn’t start, or they encountered a long line at McDonald’s, or they just felt blue? It’s their psychic makeup.
No more. The left is running their asylum now. They’re great at manufacturing fear about the bogeymen behind “the system,” but in actual governance, they do nothing but lose. Of course, the leftist answer to that conundrum is, “If we all just work together, nothing is impossible.” So they can continue to blame the Senate, disinformation, gridlock, those on “the wrong side of history,” and Trump.
The whole point of leftism is that it can’t succeed without total investment by everyone in its program. That’s why it’s “all hands on deck” from Big Tech, Big Media, Big Business, Hollywood, Wall Street, human resources departments, and the Washington swamp. That’s why cancel culture is integral to their success. Dissent, alternative information, and a muscular minority topples the whole house of cards.
We’re America. We left the tyrannies of the world to come here. We left our cultures and even families. We’re all just a few generations away from incredible risk-takers, fighters, and survivors. Rugged individualism is in our blood.
Add to that the brilliant system set up by the forefathers with its many checks and balances. The newly conservative federal courts, red state governments, and that troublesome right to free speech aren’t going anywhere for now. Meanwhile, the free market is begging for new social media platforms and a FBexit or Twexit movement.
The left tells Americans, “We’re all in this together,” but it won’t be too long before, well, 70 million people say, “Speak for yourself. We’ll speak for ourselves, thank you.” That 70 million isn’t going anywhere. It’s only growing.
Voters might not have had concerns about irregularities, if fundamental steps were taken, and problems fixed.
No wonder half the public is concerned about irregularities in the 2020 voting.
No wonder they would support Donald Trump’s skepticism, once a reputable legal team quickly, publicly, and transparently presents to the nation justified concerns about constitutional violations in changing state voting laws and documented accounts of computer glitches, inexplicable late arrivals of ballot troves, and systemic efforts to prevent transparency — all at a level that reasonably could question the authenticity of the final vote count or even serve a dire warning of things to come.
Voting sanctity was not just questioned by Trump. It became a recent issue in 2016. Then-Green Party candidate Jill Stein was used as a surrogate by Hillary Clinton and the Democratic establishment — to the chagrin of her own supporters — to sue in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania to overturn the 2016 election. The charge was deliberate voting-machine irregularities, for which there was not even much anecdotal evidence.
When that failed, the Left went full Hollywood with a media blitz to convince the American people that the election was a fraud and the electors had to do their “patriotic” duty to overturn the mandates of their own state — and reject Donald Trump.
Within days of that failure, a Democratic narrative appeared that Donald Trump was an illegitimate president due to “Russian collusion.” Soon Hillary Clinton joined the “Resistance,” on the basis that Russians, not the American people, had chosen the president — a charge that eventually sabotaged Donald Trump’s first two years in office, as Robert Mueller’s 22-month, $40-million “Dream Team” failed to prove that a myth, born in efforts to delegitimize an election and a president, was after all a myth.
Indeed, within days of Trump’s inauguration, dozens of Democrats voted for impeachment, as activists wrote about the need to either impeach him, or declare him crazy — or whispered about the need for the military to become vigilant — in a manner later to be dubbed “coup porn.” Again the pretext was a false charge of Russian collusion that had delegitimized the voting.
After that, a new narrative took hold, eventually flagrantly so in the 2019 Democratic primaries, that the Electoral College was illegitimate and should be junked, and the present Supreme Court had to be packed to ensure correct decisions. So the idea that the future voting itself would be politicized started nearly as soon as, or even before, Donald Trump was elected.
Millions of voters now find it rich that suddenly the Democratic Party is vouching for a pristine voting count, after for four years warning in venues like the New Yorker or PBS that new questionable electronic voting machines and dubious state officials were toying with deliberate distortion, and that foreign interests would “again” be seeking to disrupt the election.
Activists spent much of 2019 and 2020 seeking to overturn constitutionally mandated laws of the state legislatures. Their efforts in key states often succeeded in ensuring that federal elections would be radically transformed into a long process of weeks on end, through both early and predominately mail-in voting, with allowances for troves of ballots arriving well after the polls closed.
The point is that after being lectured by Clintonites, by the media, and by big tech for years that voting was likely to be suspect, the Left did all it could by lawsuits and radical changes to voting statutes to ensure that the count would be, well, suspect by its own prior standards.
Still, half of the American people might not be so angry had just one state — as Florida in 2000 — failed to deliver a final, transparent, and timely tally.
But by 2020, we had 20 years to learn from Florida’s endless days of recounting and warped chad auditing. Although the suspicious circumstances were different — this time state executives and judges changed the state voter laws to enhance mail-in balloting in a way inconsistent with the Constitution’s directives — states were nonetheless courting the same disaster of delays, popular outrage, and inconsistent rules of counting and certification.
Now two decades later, Americans, in third-world fashion, suffered five Floridas — Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania — all of which for some reason could not produce a transparent result on Election Day or in the hours shortly after. All had been warned that in some cases new computer voting systems, or in other cases radical transformations to mail-in voting, or in all cases insufficient awareness to transparency might once again provoke popular distrust. And in addition, a deadlocked Supreme Court ignored clear warnings that state judges and executives were overruling constitutionally mandated legislative laws of voting.
So the public is mystified that the center of global high tech; the bastion of transparency and civil rights; the birthplace of the computer, the Internet, and automatic voting; home of the $4-trillion Silicon Valley masters of the universe; and the nation that vowed never again to suffer another 2000 has again failed.
A nation whose tech wizardry can ferret out a single improper tweet and block an individual account in a nation of 330 million surely can use such omnipresence to ensure a nearly instantaneous voting result in certified machines. Or is the opposite true? Precisely because of that scary omnipotence, we need to be ever more vigilant?
Mutatis mutandis, will the same Bush standard be extended to Trump, to go through the process of reexamination that the Bush team rightly demanded? It would not require much effort for the Supreme Court to determine whether particular states followed or ignored the Constitution in radically changing voting laws in 2020. Either they did so by votes of the Legislature or they did so by executive and bureaucratic mandates, which are not what the Constitution seems to direct.
It would not take much effort simply to reexamine voting machines and computer software, to determine whether hundreds of personal anecdotes of illegality are signs of either systematic failure or mere disgruntled partisans.
Still, the deplorables might have kept quiet had allegations of fraud occurred along bipartisan lines — that for every mysterious Wisconsin and Pennsylvania vote there was equal concern in hotly contested Texas and Florida. Both sides might have pointed to voting stoppages in the nocturnal hours, and the sudden appearance of new ballots and the record 90-percent turnout of registered voters in particular counties. All that weirdness would likely have been ignored had it occurred in bipartisan fashion regardless of the eventual vote.
So again half the country now worries that purple swing states in which it was anticipated the vote would be close were targeted by Democratic activist-bureaucrats, especially in big cities — whether by preelection radical changes in voting laws and regulations, or laxity in ensuring proper date cutoffs, or inattention to computer authenticity to ensure “glitches” would not unduly sour public confidence.
Still, voters are a forgiving lot. They might have sighed “move on” had the prior polls simply conditioned the country for a close race, predictions they trusted and thus could have prepared them for a long and acrimonious night.
Instead, the party that drumbeats “voter suppression” ad nauseam hectored the country about the “historic” reckoning to come on Election Day. The Left went full Bob Mueller “bombshells” and “walls are closing in” to condition the nation for a 1964-like Democratic landslide, the just sendoff for the hated Trump.
Red-state America for months was assured by pollsters and their partners in the media of the slaughter to come. On election eve, Trump was down 17 points in Wisconsin in the ABC/Washington Post poll. Trump was 12 points down in the CNN popular vote poll. Trump would suffer a 383-vote landslide loss in the Electoral College in the last YouGov poll.
These authoritative predictions, often framed to the decimal point and the result of thousands of “computer simulations,” were not just off, but so far off to be easily seen as laughable.
Had the presidential polls at the state levels, or polls of the Electoral College or those of Senate and House races, been close and thus approximated the actual vote that transpired on Election Day, voters would have shrugged that this time around at least the polls were in the margin of error in their wrong predictions.
But again, what the country got instead was assurance of a Democratic Krakatoa, contrary to what people saw in the contrast between Trump’s huge rallies and Biden’s pathetic assemblage of honking cars. The public witnessed a “sure-loser” president greeted ecstatically at huge gatherings while “sure-winner” Biden lost his train of thought before a few hundred car-bound onlookers.
Still, Americans might have shrugged even then and sighed, “polls will be polls” — had not there been the example of 2016. Then most of the state polls were wrong, but predictably wrong in their prediction of a Clinton landslide. After that collective embarrassment, voters were assured that pollsters were looking inward and that the media was venturing out to Red State America to discover “what makes these people tick.” That too was a hoax.
Perhaps voters still would have said, “2000 Florida 5.0 is weird, but I guess it can happen.” They might have added, “2016 polls, I guess, never fixed their methodology for 2000.”
But then there was the media.
The media itself funded joint polls and reveled in their investments on television as gospel. On Fox News, Arizona was called early on election eve by its analytics experts. That spark in nanoseconds was aired through the networks with editorialization along the following lines: “If conservative Fox now says Trump’s red-state base has repudiated him in the first hours of vote counting, and he’s already lost Arizona, imagine what is now to follow!”
Instead, what in reality followed were clear big Trump wins in Florida and Texas — much more likely results not called until much later. When asked to defend the Arizona decision, a few of the statisticians of Fox doubled down, ensuring that what we are now witnessing in Arizona was “impossible,” the insult to their additional injury of reassuring America that the Democrats would pick up seats in the House.
The public knows that when a candidate loses a base state early in the evening, then the entire media menu for the night is set. Long predictable wins are relabeled “comebacks” or examples of “surprising strength.” Close losses are thematized as “clear pattern of voter unease with the president.” Why question later reports of insecure polling or suspicious late arriving ballots when you lose Barry Goldwater’s state in a mere two hours after polls closed?
Still, the voters might have shrugged, “Well, who believes these premature media-ratings driven calls, anyway?”
But then again, for days before the election, the media not only censored stories of Hunter Biden, but was aided by the clout of Silicon Valley into outright blacking them out — quite in contrast to their earlier two-year-long megaphonic assertions that Donald Trump was soon to be indicted, as Robert Mueller and Christopher Steele had all but proved their cases.
In addition, for months the media assured the nation that a small group of money-grubby apostate Republicans were the voices of morality in the Republican Party. Indeed, Never Trumpers could prove a valuable fifth column to siphon off key support from the Republican ticket.
Flush with nearly $70 million in left-wing cash, the “Lincoln” Project kingpins were glamorized in their efforts to destroy Republican senatorial and House candidates, to flip Republican swing voters, and to pose as the saviors of the Republican Party.
Instead, Trump got more support from Republicans in 2020 than he had in 2016, reaching in so-called exit polls rates of 93 percent.
In the end, Never Trump, Inc. was just another media fiction, although a lucrative one for its concocters if AOC and the Squad don’t appropriate their post-campaign cash reserves.
So what angers half the country could be summed up as the likely mindset of the Trump voter:
We don’t care whether an irrelevant Twitter cancels us out. So what, when Facebook and Google warp their technologies? Screw the polls; we knew they were corrupt and unreliable. Who cares if partisan woke bureaucrats reinvent the rules of elections to favor their own and contravene the rules passed by their own legislatures? Not even rumors of computer glitches will matter. And even the most rapid transformations in American election history, from Election Day balloting into a decision by all sorts of bizarre early and mail-in balloting, will not matter. There is no way in America that huge Election Day leads will vanish by midnight in all the suspicious places. We are the people and all these efforts will come to nil. On Election Day, at least we will finally be heard. After all, we are not yet a third-world state.
But such trust proved one bridge too far. We are a third-world state now with malleable laws, an inert Constitution, voting that cannot be certified beyond a reasonable doubt within a reasonable time, with a media that massages rather than reports the news, and pollsters who seek to modulate rather than reflect likely voting.
And that realization that a transparent Election Day vote is a distant memory is what enrages Barack Obama’s clingers, Joe Biden’s dregs, chumps and ugly folk, and Hillary Clinton’s deplorables and irredeemables — the final injury after a host of insults.
The 2020 election was a referendum on the progressive elite, and they were soundly defeated
In a week of surprises, California’s rejection of a ballot measure that would have allowed the state to resume its affirmative action program was among the most significant.
The measure, known as Proposition 16, wasn’t defeated by shy Trump voters. Polling showed Hispanic and other minority voters evenly split on the measure, and on Tuesday it was defeated in California’s most Latino counties.
California’s result is just one piece of the mounting evidence that voters on Tuesday threw a wrench in the progressive plan to leverage a “coalition of the ascendant” and an “emerging Democratic majority” to turn the country into a woke utopia.
The 2020 election was in large part a referendum on Democrats’ race baiting and pandering, starting with the party’s own elevation of Biden to the top of the ticket. Democrats’ rejection of Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris was a leading indicator that the media missed.
Millions of voters of all races made clear that they instead prefer the old ideals: equality of opportunity, economic freedom, and a society that judges its citizens not by the color of our skin, but the content of our character.
Beyond that, the president whom Democrats have lambasted for four years as a racist and a xenophobe turned out more minority voters than any Republican candidate in decades. It’s not just that right-wing Cubans handed Trump a surprise victory in south Florida; he clinched some of the nation’s most Latino counties, improved his margins with black men and women, and even earned commanding majorities in some Native American counties. And that exit poll data does not account for the shy Trump voters, an effect we presume may well be exaggerated among black and Hispanic voters.
Senate races yielded more bad news for the progressive left. Even if Joe Biden wins the White House, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who easily overcame an $80 million challenge, will serve as a check on the ascendance of socialists such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) to the Biden cabinet. Voters may have wanted Biden, but there’s a whole wing of his party they’d prefer to do without.
Some House Democrats can see the writing on the wall. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.) reportedly told her caucus that the progressive push to defund the police and embrace “socialism” almost cost them the majority. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D., Ariz.) advised Democrats to drop the woke speak, starting with the bizarre “Latinx.”ADVERTISING
Tuesday’s results should shatter the Democratic presumption that their party is destined to command the overwhelming and eternal support of minority voters—but it won’t. The politics fueled by racial grievance and personified by the “squad” of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib is a cancer on the Democratic Party that it indulges at its own peril.
America's polarized and divided politics aren't going anywhere.
The polls were wrong. The blue wave was no tsunami. The Democratic majority did not fully emerge. Parts of the “coalition of the ascendant” drifted to the right. For a generation, American politics has been closely and bitterly divided between the parties. There has been high turnover in office, and frequent shifts in power. Majorities are unstable. No victory is permanent, no realignment durable. The stalemate goes on.
If Joe Biden becomes president, he is more likely than not to take office with Republicans in control of the Senate. That hasn’t happened in 116 years. He will certainly take office with a reduced House majority—the Democrats have a net loss of six seats at the time of writing. Six of the nine Supreme Court justices are Republican appointees. The partisan breakdown of state legislatures and governor’s mansions will resemble, almost precisely, the pre-election status quo. It’s a good thing Biden campaigned as someone willing to work across the aisle. He’ll have no other choice.
If Trump wins a second term, practically nothing will have changed in American politics, except that both Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell will have fewer votes to work with.
The country remains split. The New York Times exit poll says 37 percent of voters were Democrats and 35 percent Republicans, with 28 percent identifying as independents “or something else.” The Fox News/AP voter analysis pushed “leaners” toward one party over another. It says that 47 percent of voters were Republican or lean Republican, and 48 percent were Democrats or lean Democrat.
Only 24 percent of voters in the exit poll identified as liberal. The rest said they were moderate (40 percent) or conservative (37 percent). The Fox News voter analysis has similar results, with a slightly higher percentage of liberals (30 percent) and a lower percentage of moderates (33 percent). Conservatives were at 38 percent.
The sorting of parties by race, education, marital status, and religious practice has polarized our elites and made politics heated, noisy, and apocalyptic. Every election is billed as the most important in our lifetimes, the potential end of democracy and our ways of life. For all the fire and fury online and on cable news, however, elections continue to be decided in the middle.
Look at the suburbs, where a lot of those moderates and independents live. They backed Bush in 2004, then went for Obama in 2008. Two years later, repelled by Obamacare, Republicans won 56 percent of the suburbs and 56 percent of independents. Obama won reelection in 2012 by erasing those margins. The electorate in 2014, however, looked almost exactly like it did in 2010. And in 2016, Trump won the suburbs by 5 points and independents by 6 points. (He lost moderates by 11.)
According to the 2020 exit poll, Trump lost the suburbs by 3, independents by 14 (a 20-point swing), and moderates by 31. In the Fox voter analysis, Trump lost suburbs by 10 points, independents by 14 points, and moderates by 25 points. Both campaigns turned out their supporters. But the Trump campaign assumed its base would be enough to win. It looks like they were wrong.ADVERTISING
If Trump loses, it will be because voters in the middle grew tired of his antics. The public assessment of Trump’s actions was filtered through its distaste for his comportment, rhetoric, and behavior. And Trump’s personality often overshadowed or undermined the progress of his own administration.
These dramatic self-owns became most obvious, and most harmful, during the coronavirus pandemic. The elected officials who demonstrated steadiness, compassion, and concern these past eight months have seen their job approval numbers rise, no matter the actual status of their communities. Trump’s scattershot response prevented him from building on the slight uptick in support that he enjoyed last March. The voters who said the coronavirus was their most important issue went for Biden overwhelmingly.
This rejection of Trump was personal. It did not extend to the entire Republican Party. Several GOP senators ran ahead of him. The gains in the House speak for themselves. At the moment, the only governor’s mansion to flip is Montana’s. It’s a Republican pickup. Voters rejected a graduated income tax in Illinois and affirmative action in California. Even if Democrats sweep the two Georgia Senate runoffs, and Chuck Schumer gets to be majority leader thanks to Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote, the chances now that he will abolish the filibuster, pack the Court, and grant statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., are nil. The Democrats dreamed of legislating the GOP out of existence. That’s not going to happen. It’s why they are so morose about these results.
The Republican challenge today is the mirror image of the party’s dilemma after 2012. Then, the GOP needed to retain its support in the suburbs while boosting support among whites without college degrees. Now, it needs to retain its support among whites without college degrees while boosting support in the suburbs. And it needs to solidify its gains among black males and Hispanic voters who responded to policies aimed at tight labor markets and economic empowerment.
It’s a tall order. But, as always, the Republicans’ best allies will be Democrats, who like all winners will interpret an electoral victory as an ideological mandate. Overreach is inevitable. And so is the backlash. The vote counting isn’t over, but the GOP comeback has already begun.
It appears that Democrats in Detroit, a city with a long history of election fraud, are tampering with absentee ballots and breaking state law.
As absentee ballot counting continues in a handful of key states across the country, reports of voter fraud, ballot tampering, and the illegal removal of Republican election observers are cropping up in Michigan, especially in Detroit, a Democratic stronghold which has a long history of voter fraud.
On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced it was filing a lawsuit in Michiganover what it claims are systematic efforts to prevent Republican election observers from monitoring the ballot counting process as allowed under state law.
The lawsuit comes as video clips continue to surface on social media showing election officials denying access to authorized GOP poll watchers.
Aric Nesbitt, a Michigan state senator, posted a video on Twitter Wednesday afternoon of election workers at the convention center in Detroit, where absentee ballots are being counted. The video shows workers cheering every time an official election observer with the Michigan GOP is ejected from the counting room. Apparently this has been happening frequently, in violation of state law. Democratic observers, says Nesbitt, now outnumber Republicans observers at the convention center 3 to 1.
Here’s why that’s a problem. When an absentee ballot is unreadable for whatever reason, a ballot counter takes out a blank ballot, lays it on the table next to the unreadable ballot, and transposes the vote so it can be filed and tallied. Republican and Democratic “poll challengers,” as they’re called, are supposed to observe this process as it happens and make sure that the vote is transposed accurately. In addition, Michigan state law requires that a Republican and a Democratic official sign off on every voting precinct where absentee ballots are cast in this manner.
Phill Kline is a former Kansas attorney general and now an attorney for the nonprofit Amistad Project, which filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging that tens of thousands of ballots in Detroit have been illegally filled out by election officials and Democratic election observers. “We have confirmed evidence that Democratic election officials have violated state law,” he told The Federalist, “and have opened the door for fraud involving tens of thousands of ballots.”
Kline confirmed Republican officials have been barred from observing the counting of absentee ballots, and that transposed absentee ballots are being certified despite a GOP official not signing off on them. The law, Kline says, states that an official from both parties must sign off “if possible,” and that Democratic election officials are claiming they can’t find a Republican to sign off—even though they are also kicking Republican officials out of the counting rooms.
I also spoke by phone to one GOP poll challenger who asked to remain anonymous and told me the election officials at the convention center are not letting Republican poll challengers remain in the room where absentee ballots are being counted, saying there’s “too many” of them. Asked how many people were in these rooms, the officials in charge could not say, according to this person, who added that the rooms in question are enormous, the size of a football field (remember this is at the convention center, where the Detroit auto show is held).
After kicking out Republican poll challengers, election officials began covering up the windows of the counting rooms with cardboard to block the view of Republican observers. “It was pretty chaotic,” the poll challenger said.
News reports are starting to reflect the chaos at the convention center. The Detroit Free Press reported Thursday morning that a lawyer, Jessica Connarn, who was working as a Republic poll challenger, filed an affidavit saying she was told by someone counting absentee ballots that workers in Detroit were “changing the dates the ballots were received” so they would be considered valid.
“When I approached the poll worker, she stated to me that she was being told to change the date on ballots to reflect that the ballots were received on an earlier date,” Connarn says in the affidavit. The Free Press goes on to report:
Connarn states when she tried to get additional information later from this poll worker, she was “yelled at by the other poll workers working at her table, who told me that I needed to go away and that I was not allowed to talk to the poll worker.”
In that interaction, the poll worker slipped Connarn a note, she states.
The note says “entered received date as 11/2/20 on 11/4/20.”
In Michigan, only ballots received by 8 p.m. on Election Day, this year Nov. 3, are valid.
None of this is new for Detroit, which has been plagued by corrupt election officials for years. In 2005, federal officials launched an investigation after the November election and state officials took over the handling of absentee ballots in Detroit after the Detroit News reported that “legally incapacitated nursing home residents were being coaxed to vote and Detroit’s voting rolls were inflated with more than 300,000 names of people who had died or moved out of the city.” A post-election audit found that nearly 30 percent of precincts showed discrepancies in vote totals.
Despite reform efforts over the years, these problems have persisted. Back in December, a public interest group sued the city in federal court, claiming its voter rolls are “replete with typos, dead people, duplicate registrations and mistakes about gender and birth: One Detroit voter is listed as being born in 1823—14 years before Michigan was annexed into the Union,” according to the Detroit Free Press.
In the 2016 presidential election, voting machines in more than a third of all voting precincts in Detroit registered more votes than the number of voters tallied by poll workers. The irregularities meant that more than half the city would be ineligible for a statewide presidential recount that was eventually called off by the Michigan Supreme Court. Here’s what Detroit News reported at the time:
Overall, state records show 10.6 percent of the precincts in the 22 counties that began the retabulation process couldn’t be recounted because of state law that bars recounts for unbalanced precincts or ones with broken seals.
The problems were the worst in Detroit, where discrepancies meant officials couldn’t recount votes in 392 precincts, or nearly 60 percent. And two-thirds of those precincts had too many votes.
But these problems persisted. In the August primary, ballot counts in 72 percent of Detroit’s absentee voting precincts didn’t match the number of ballots cast, and in 46 percent of the city’s precincts the combined vote counts for Election Day and absentee voting were out of balance. Even Democratic election officials admitted that something had gone wrong in tracking ballots by precinct.
According to Michigan state law, precincts whose poll books don’t match up with the number of ballots cast can’t be recounted. That might present problems for any eventual presidential recount in the state, as it did in 2016.
For now, it seems clear that credible evidence of election fraud has surfaced in Detroit, which is not surprising given Detroit’s troubled history of election fraud. But it’s also deeply disturbing. The Trump campaign’s lawsuit to halt what appears to be a corrupt process is, in this case, entirely appropriate. We need to get to the bottom of what’s going on in Detroit.
I specifically waited to write this post until the election was over. As we now know, and many predicted (including this writer), this one may not be over this week! For the sanity of the voting public, we need a better system.
As it is, there is at least one uncontested result of this election: the pollsters (with some exceptions) got it wrong again. After all the assurances that their mistakes of 2016 had been identified and corrected, we find that that was not the case. It seems obvious that, in both campaigns, they “missed” millions of voters – mostly on the Trump side.
There have been allegations of purposeful manipulations of survey data to make the Biden campaign look stronger than it was. But, whether intentional or not, the errors are too blatant to merit any confidence in their “data”. Here is an industry which must reform itself or it will not survive.
What else has Election Day taught us? In some ways, the campaign was a story of the “The tortoise and the hare”, although the hare may have actually won this race. Certainly, this race was like nothing else in my lifetime. That applies to both candidates: Biden campaigned less than any candidate in my memory; while Trump’s choice of a campaign activity – the political rally – almost exclusively was unlike any I can remember. Then the way he used it toward the end of the campaign was quite astonishing.
Another distinguishing characteristic was the major premise of the Dems’ strategy to run their entire appeal as a protest against the President. More than anything else, theirs was a “Dump Trump” message. It allowed them to transcend a confusing message on so many other policy issues, often because different spokespersons were presenting different answers. In the end, none of this seems to have mattered.
It seems there’s not a lot more to say about the election at this stage. We don’t know a lot more about the people’s choices on a score of simmering issues. Nor do we know what kind of a future awaits us. This is one day I’m glad I am not required to buy and sell stocks for the future!
Thousands of ballots appear to have been lost in heavily Republican Butler County, PA., leaving officials confused and working with the U.S. Postal Service to retrieve them, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday.
“Over the last week and a half, the Bureau of Elections has received thousands of calls and emails from voters saying they did not receive their mail-in or absentee ballots,” a statement from the county said. “The postal service is maintaining daily contact with our Elections Bureau and is aware of the situation.”
Estimates on the number of missing ballots run into the tens of thousands. According to published reports, the county Elections Bureau mailed out nearly 40,000 with just about half returned as of Thursday.
A spokesperson for the postal service said in a statement to KDKA-TV, “Regarding mail sorting and delivery in Butler County, the Postal Service is unaware of any significant delays or issues and is in regular contact with the Board of Election as we work to locate and deliver ballots as they are presented to us.”
County officials said they would focus on the challenges of providing voters who may not have received mail-in ballots with other options to vote in the upcoming election rather than spend time on finding the ballots that have apparently gone missing. They also that all returned ballots would be recorded on the county web site within the next 48 hours so voters should be able to check if their mail-in ballots were received.
Neighboring Westmoreland County has had similar troubles with ballots this week, the paper said, but numbers are improving. County officials said Friday evening that 52,729 mail-in or absentee ballots have been returned out of the 75,642 that were sent to voters.
Tuesday was the last day for Pennsylvania voters to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot. Nonetheless, the paper said, a steady stream of voters visited the Butler County Courthouse Friday afternoon to drop their completed mail-in ballots off in person.
“My wife and I decided to drop them off today because we don’t think it would get in on time if we had mailed them,” Anthony Grossi, of Butler, told the paper.
Anyone whose ballot is missing may, the county suggested, go to the Bureau of Elections and vote in person. The office will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday. Or they may vote on Tuesday at their local polling place.
Following the shooting of a man who allegedly threatened two police officers with a knife, Philadelphia has become the latest site in the ongoing racially-motivated protests, riots, and looting that have marked 2020.
Walter Wallace, a 27-year-old African American, was shot to death by police in “The City of Brotherly Love” who said he refused orders to drop his weapon and advanced on them. His death, the latest in a series of police-related incidents that started in Minneapolis and over the last few months have fueled wanton destruction of public and private property in Seattle, Louisville, Portland, Washington D.C., Richmond, Va, Atlanta, and other cities.
The destruction that is becoming near-commonplace has put the issue of police conduct squarely in the center of the national conversation. President Donald J. Trump repeatedly denounces the activities of the rioters and has taken steps to rein in their campaign of terror. Former Vice President Joe Biden, on the other hand, continues to be somewhat lackluster when attempting to repudiate the violence and those who commit it. More than once he has made it clear that he, like his running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, supports many of the stated objectives of those who consider themselves members of the movement known as Black Lives Matter.
Biden and Harris have, for example, repeatedly seconded many of the BLM’s comments and criticisms made on social media including the charge the nation is “systemically racist” and have mimicked the movement’s calls for policies that advance racial “equity” in place of equality. Yet the Democratic presidential candidate has remained strangely mute regarding The BREATHE Act, the passage of which through Congress has been defined by some as the chief goal of those who have taken to the streets in protest.
The legislation, which has been endorsed by several prominent House Democrats, could see early action early in the next session of Congress if Biden wins the presidency and his party takes control of the U.S. Senate while retaining the majority in the House of Representatives under Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
In October the American Principles Project, a non-partisan organization, released a report that took a deep dive into The BREATHE Act, examining its implications for law enforcement and other areas of public policy. The group concluded the bill, which is being marketed as an aggressive and thoughtful approach to the problem of police brutality is in reality “a radical left-wing wish list” that includes provisions that would turn the nation on its head.
Among the provisions found by APP in the bill are:
“Joe Biden should answer some simple questions: Does he support the BREATHE Act? Would he sign it into law? If the answer is no, which provisions does he disagree with? Does he support establishing reparations commissions? Would he get rid of federal law enforcement? Would he abolish prisons? Would he provide criminals under the age of 24 with total immunity from prosecution for crimes they commit? Would he fund abortions and sex changes? Which parts of the BREATHE Act does he support, and which parts does he oppose?” asked Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project upon the report’s release.
Needless to say, each of these provisions is well outside the American mainstream. This may be why Biden has been less-than-forthcoming in his comments on the proposed legislation. His endorsement of any or all of these radical ideas raises significant questions about his vision for the nation’s future.
The combustible politics of a coronavirus ‘dark winter’
For the past half decade, Europe has acted as a preview of coming attractions in American politics. The reaction to the confluence of immigration and terrorism on the continent foreshadowed the direction the Republican Party would take under Donald Trump. The surprise victory of “Leave” in the Brexit referendum hinted at Trump’s unexpected elevation to the presidency. The terrible images from coronavirus-stricken Italy last March offered a glimpse into New York City’s future. This week, when Italian authorities reimposed curfews, restrictions on business, and bans on communal gatherings, violent protests broke out in Turin, Milan, and Naples. Consider it a taste of the next populist revolt.
Lockdowns remain the preferred tool of governments whose public health authorities decide the coronavirus is out of control. In September, Israel shut down for a month during the Jewish holidays to reduce its coronavirus infection rate. In October, New York City targeted certain neighborhoods. In recent days, Newark ordered “nonessential” businesses to close at 8 p.m., a county judge imposed a curfew on El Paso, and Massachusetts has gone back-and-forth on whether schools should be open or closed.
This response has placed the public under extraordinary strain. When officials tell businesses to close, they not only deny individuals who can’t work from home the opportunity to earn a living. They also impose social costs that much of the public is increasingly unwilling to bear. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that depression, substance abuse, and suicidal ideation increased during the spring. Extended families limited contact. Religious practice was curtailed. Having canceled spring holidays, Americans are now informed that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas need to be reconsidered as well. When individuals inevitably question, disregard, or disobey the commands of science, they are censored, stigmatized, condescended to, or punished.
Nor is expert authority the only form of power at work. In spite of evidence that schools are not sites of widespread transmission and remote education harms children in incalculable ways, only 39 of the 50 largest school districts have reopened for at least some in-person instruction. In Fairfax County, Va., the teachers’ union has called for schools to remain closed at least until September 2021. Amidst the many Biden-Harris lawn signs are a few for #OpenFCPS, a parent-driven campaign to resume in-person instruction. The parents are circulating a petition to recall members of the school board who oppose bringing the students back.
Governments resort to shutdowns to impose discipline on an unruly population. But shutdowns do not solve the problem. They turn public health crises into economic and social ones. After a while, the price of shutdowns grows too high. The government reopens the economy. The virus returns. Before long, the cycle repeats.
There are plenty of ways to think about the politics of the Trump era. You can analyze the parties according to the traditional left-right axis. You can study public debate through the prism of liberal democracy versus authoritarianism. You can understand recent elections as pitting establishment insiders against populist outsiders. You can see the ideological contest as a three-way grudge match between common-good conservatives, neoliberals in both parties, and woke progressives. Coronavirus has spawned yet another interpretive framework. In this frame, politics is the struggle between the faction that wants to keep the economy and society relatively open during the pandemic and the faction that is ready and willing to shut them down.
Joe Biden has been able to straddle these two poles. He says you can have a (relatively) open society as well as a public health system that reduces infection to a negligible level. He says he will “shut down the virus, not the country.” What he hasn’t explained is how that can happen in the absence of a widely administered vaccine. Only Taiwan and South Korea contained outbreaks without nationwide lockdowns. It is hard to see the United States replicating their success. Taiwan benefited from its rapid response at the outset of the crisis. South Korean authorities rapidly approved tests while enjoying access to cell phone data. None of that happened here.
If Biden takes office during the “dark winter” he prophesied at the final presidential debate, he will have to decide, in addition to his national mask mandate, whether to put the country through another “30 days to slow the spread.” The bureaucratic pressure to shut down will be immense. The media, entertainment, and technology sectors will be sure to support and promote his decision. Polarization between “red” states and the nation’s capital will intensify. The commanding heights of culture and business will consign the Republican Party to the ash heap of history. And opposition to the restoration of progressive rule will manifest itself as a populist revolt whose character, magnitude, disposition, and endgame can only be imagined.
The American economy is roaring back according to numbers released Thursday showing a record-breaking increase in U.S. gross domestic product of just over 33 percent on an annualized basis for the third quarter of 2020. The numbers are the highest ever recorded, more than double the previous record set back in 1950 while Harry Truman was president.
The surge, which is attributable to the end of lockdowns in the typically referred to “red states” is leading to what appears very much like the V-shaped recovery President Donald J. Trump promised would occur once businesses reopened and people were allowed to go back to work.
The top Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, described the news as ratification of Trump and GOP economic policies. “After Covid-19 devastated America’s strong economy almost overnight, the Trump economy did the impossible – it battled back with the largest single quarter of economic growth in America’s history. This smashes expectations, beating economists’ original growth estimates by a stunning 400 percent.”
The news is especially bright given that all the growth came in the private sector, with private spending increasing by 40 percent and private investment up by an astounding 83 percent. Growth in the government sector, meanwhile, was slightly down in the third quarter, suggesting the need for additional federal stimulus dollars may be abating.
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, real GDP in the third quarter grew by 7.4 percent, a figure that considerably exceeds even the most favorable market expectations. This follows the sharpest single quarter economic contraction on record in the second quarter of 2020 due to pandemic-induced lockdowns.
The numbers should calm those who fear the economy is on the edge of a recession thanks to the considerable increase in the numbers of people testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. The United States has now, in a single quarter, recovered two-thirds of the economic output lost due to the pandemic-imposed lockdowns imposed by many of the nation’s governors from march onward. By comparison, it took four times as long to regain the same share of lost economic output during the anemic Obama recovery that followed the implosion of the U.S. housing market.
Real consumer spending rose 8.9 percent — 40.7 percent at an annualized rate — in the third quarter, which is also the largest increase on record. Goods and services both experienced steep increases, suggesting consumer and business confidence is on the rebound and explaining, perhaps, the recent Gallup numbers showing 56 percent of Americans believe they are better off now than they were four years ago. Greater spending on recreation, food, and accommodation services – sectors acutely impacted by lockdowns – alone accounted for one-fifth of total GDP growth in the third quarter.
The government also reports residential investment rose by 12.3 percent – 59.3 percent at an annualized rate – with most of the increase due to real estate commissions generated by rebounding home sales.
The increase in residential investment, the largest since 1983, was echoed somewhat less rosily by an increase in business investment, which rose 4.7 percent — 20.3 percent at an annualized rate — with a steep increase in equipment more than offsetting declines in structures and intellectual property products.
In President Trump’s first three years in office, the economy grew by $310 billion more than what was expected before the 2016 election. In contrast, in Obama-Biden’s second term, the economy grew by $640 billion less than what was expected prior to the 2012 election. “We still have a way to go in our recovery,” Brady said, adding “there is no question Speaker Pelosi is working to sabotage America’s economy ahead of the election. But look at the contrast — the worst economic recovery in our lifetimes under Obama-Biden, the strongest labor market recovery from an economic crisis under President Trump.