I watched an ebullient President Biden, with spring in his steps, mount the podium Wednesday night to face the press that’s been dismissing him for so long. For an hour, he cheerily responded to questions.
One commentator fondly called it an hour-long “humble-brag.” The President said he feels confident that in a few months, once the strong policies he’s managed to get through this closely divided Congress reach the American people, there will be greater appreciation for the Biden agenda.
“Our democracy has been tested in recent years. But with their votes, the American people have spoken and proven once again that democracy is who we are.
“The states across the country saw record voter turnout. And the heart and soul of our democracy — the voters, the poll workers, the election officials — they did their job and they fulfilled their duty, and apparently without much interference at all — without any interference, it looks like. And that’s a testament, I think, to the American people.
“While we don’t know all of the results yet — at least, I don’t know them all yet — here’s what we do know. While the press and the pundits are predicting a giant red wave, it didn’t happen. And I know you were somewhat miffed by my — my obsessant [sic] optimism, but I felt good during the whole process. I thought we were going to do fine.
“While any seat lost is painful — some good Democrats didn’t win… — last night — Democrats had a strong night. And we lost fewer seats in the House of Representatives than any Democratic President’s first midterm election in the last 40 years. And we had the best midterms for governors since 1986.
“And another thing that we know is that voters spoke clearly about their concerns — about raising costs — the rising costs and the need to get inflation down. There are still a lot of people hurting that are very concerned. And it’s about crime and public safety. And they sent a clear and unmistakable message that they want to preserve our democracy and protect the right to choose in this country.
“And I especially want to thank the young people of this nation, who — I’m told; I haven’t seen the numbers — voted in historic numbers again and — just as they did two years ago. They voted to continue addressing the climate crisis, gun violence, their personal rights and freedoms, and the student debt relief.”
President Biden has been appealing to young voters via TikTok, talking about and acting upon just those issues. His efforts appear to have paid off. We should all be grateful that the younger generations came forward for this critical election.
I’ve long said that I believe history will be kinder to Joe Biden than the voters appear to be. Now voters will have an opportunity to look more closely.
I’ve already read glowing tributes to him from historians Heather Cox Richardson, Michael Beschloss, and John Meacham.
Today I came across this observation from American historian Joshua M. Zeitz:
“I understand his numbers are not currently great. But based on what he’s gotten done with a 50/50 Senate and narrow House majority, the mess he mopped up after Trump, his leadership on Ukraine, and tonight, I can tell you as an historian: Biden goes down a winner in the books.”
As I’m writing, the majorities in the Senate and House haven’t yet been determined. Based on what I’m hearing from local sources in Arizona and Nevada, the Democrats have a strong chance of holding the Senate. (In Arizona, they may even knock out the worst of the Big Liars from other offices, the dangerously sleazy Kari Lake among others.)
That leaves the bizarre Georgia contest. If the Republicans know the Senate majority is beyond their control, they may not be eager to throw their money into an expensive campaign for the truly dreadful Herschel Walker.
Half-hearted Republican engagement would ensure the return to the Senate of Democrat Raphael Warnock, who’s already gained great respect from his colleagues for being a highly intelligent, thoughtful, and dedicated legislator.
The Democrats would then have a 51-vote majority.
The House of Representatives is, of course, more iffy. But it’s not yet red.
In the days preceding Election Day, I noted earlier, I paid attention to Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg. Though he never guaranteed victory, he and his colleague Tom Bonior—using the data instruments TargetSmart/Target Early—were closer to the results than nearly all other pollsters and pundits and strategists.
I’m now interested in a guy on Twitter, @cbouzy, a social platform engineer and amateur election forecaster who accurately predicted that John Fetterman would defeat Mehmet Oz for the Pennsylvania Senate seat by 4 to 5 points–when everyone else was saying it would be a while til we had results of that race. The results were reported fairly quickly, and Bouzy was right.
Bouzy claims he’s gone through all the outstanding votes in all the races, and that the Democrats will retain control of the House with what sounds like an eyelash of seats to me: 219-216. (It appears, unfortunately, that Lauren Boebert has pulled ahead of her challenger, Adam Frisch, in Colorado.)
Even if Bouzy’s prediction is off, with a strong Senate backing the President, and what will be a slender Republican House margin, I’m less worried about the far-right’s shenanigans. Although they will be bad, the mood in the country has changed.
New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu, a moderate who just won reelection, told CNN that voters sent a clear message in these midterm elections:
“Fix policy later, fix crazy now.”
Notably, if Kevin McCarthy, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and their unmerry band of goofballs try to fool around with the debt ceiling during the closing weeks of this session, they’ll get knocked on their heels.
And with abortion rights so passionately supported in so many states—even in Kentucky and Montana as well as Kansas—the House Republicans can try for a national ban, but they won’t get anywhere.
One witty pro-choice woman wrote that the almost universally accepted concept of a “red wave” was, in fact, merely a bit of “mid-cycle spotting.”
Voters were clearly looking for stability. They rejected the loudest Big Liars/election deniers—and somewhat surprisingly, most of those characters even conceded they’d lost.
Voters showed that while inflation is a worry, they could multitask their thinking and care about more than one important issue. As the President said: “Democracy worked! It worked! It worked!”
I’m not negating the potential for chaos ahead; I’m sure there will be plenty. But I believe the country has moved beyond its tolerance for this type of disruption. And with many more GenZers voting in 2024, we may just get through this period relatively intact.
Surprise! The Republican party that refuses to raise the permissible age to purchase an assault weapon suddenly thinks it’s really important that we raise the voting age to 21. Those “woke” young people have been indoctrinated to believe in one another’s common humanity; their empathy and tolerance are a danger to the republic. They gotta be stopped! (26th Amendment? That old precedent?)
Unfortunately for these reactionary forces, the young people reach up to age 45. “Wokeness” is–good grief–multigenerational! (After age 45, white voters were more likely Republican–even women voters, alas! Young voters and voters of color saved us.)
One of my worries has been that the Big Liars would drag out their election denials in the courts indefinitely. But here’s a tweet from Marc Elias, the election litigation expert who seems to work 24 hours a day:
“Though we are still waiting on the outcome of a few elections, it seems clear that the Republican’s legal effort collapsed. In the final days before Nov. 8, they lost nearly every one of their pending court cases.”
I wish I thought we’d moved beyond violence and mayhem. But Trump’s gonna be indicted soon, and he’ll call out his shock troops for sure. The level of anger, hatred, and conspiracy-mongering that fractured Paul Pelosi’s skull isn’t going to dissipate so quickly.
Still, Trump appears significantly diminished by this election, in which a number of his handpicked candidates were defeated. In fact, he had said his decision about running in 2024 could be influenced by the results of the midterm. He may decide not to run.
Regardless of what the Felon-in-Waiting decides to do, I feel we’ve begun to build a blockade against the worst assault on our struggling democracy since the Civil War.
We may not yet have reached a point where we’re able to pass voting rights legislation and rein in dark money, but we’re far, far better off than we were before November 8, 2022.
Here comes the sun!