November 14, 2020

The Opposing Lessons of the 2020 Election

by Hal Gershowitz

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(1) The majority of Americans have had it with Trump. And —

(2) they have also had it with the Siren Song of the far left.

No more crisis mismanagement, tantrums and distemper from the Oval Office, and no more talk of doing away with the police or embracing Socialism, Marxism, or any other sobriquet for dismantling the most promising, if imperfect, economy the world has ever known.

The first lesson has cost Donald Trump the Presidency, possibly by more than 7 to 8 million votes when all remaining ballots are counted. Biden has won 306 electoral votes (assuming there is no coup), the same number of electoral votes won by President Trump in 2016, which Trump trumpeted as a landslide.

The second lesson (rejection of perceived hard-left ideology) has cost the Democrats the Senate and nearly the House of Representatives. A clear majority of Americans have rejected political pandemonium in both the executive and legislative branches of government. Most (but certainly not all) Americans yearn for a return to political sanity.

Trump’s Theater of the Absurd

President Trump and a band of Trump acolytes are conducting themselves horribly in the aftermath of the election. Trump had insisted that every legal vote be counted while, simultaneously, announcing that the definition of a legal vote was a Trump vote and the definition of an illegal vote was a Biden vote. He, outrageously, insisted that all vote counting cease at the end of the day on November 3rd.

While winners of elections have sometimes been projected on the evening of an election, votes are always counted for days after an election, and winners are generally not determined on the evening of an election.

Now, Trump is sending armies of lawyers to contest every battleground-state election he lost with spurious suits that are being dismissed by the courts as groundless as soon as the attorneys present their evidence-anemic cases. One can only speculate what the intended purpose is of the tens of millions of dollars being raised, supposedly, to fight the results of the election.

Given the short shrift the courts are making of the evidence-anemic cases being presented, just what is the intended purpose of the stash of cash being accumulated by Trump and his Katzenjammer crew? Well, a quick glance at the fine print of Trump’s “Official Election Defense Fund” provides rather illuminating answers. According to Reuters, one of the world’s oldest and most respected news organizations, a donor would have to give more than $8,000 to the so-called Election Defense Fund before any money goes to challenging the results of the election. Most of the money will go to “Save America,” a Trump leadership Political Action Committee, set up a week ago, and to the Republican National Committee. Both organizations have substantial leeway to do whatever they want with the funds.

Virtually every credible election authority has dismissed the Trump allegations of election fraud as spurious nonsense including those officials within the Trump Administration charged with responsibility for assuring election integrity, as well as Republican officials responsible for election integrity at the state level.

It seems clear that Trump has no intention of conceding the election, nor is his concession necessary. It is noteworthy, however, that virtually all other losing candidates have had the class and grace to concede when they have lost an election, including Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mitt Romney and George H. W. Bush to name a recent few. Interestingly, John McCain, whose well-earned status as an American hero drove Trump to utter distraction, delivered one of the classiest concession speeches ever accorded to an opponent, Barack Obama, whose class and popularity also drives Trump crazy.  

The 45th presidency of the United States ends at noon on January 20th 2021, and the 46th presidency, that of Joseph R. Biden, commences concurrently. At some point there becomes a fine line between contesting an election and attempting to seize power. No one has ever tried to do the latter in America, but autocrats try it all too frequently. Let us beware.

Rejecting the Siren Song of the far left

A civil society cannot endure without well-policed law enforcement. Yes, we all understand that there have been abuses, sometimes deadly, often racially motivated, at the hands of uniformed police officers. Great effort has been made and must be redoubled to rout out miscreants who bring shame to law enforcement. There is no segment of society, however, that cringes more when bad cops do bad things than good cops who work every day doing good things. And the good cops are the norm.

Loud and strident demands to do away with the police, and, make no mistake about it, that is what many in the so-called defund movement are advocating, have freaked out tens of millions of Americans, democrats and republicans alike. The defund movement, which deteriorated into reckless bombast with no place to go, unquestionably cost Democrats millions of votes. Voters who have had it with Trump had no problem voting for Republican legislators at both the federal and state level who they believe, correctly or incorrectly, are more committed to supporting law enforcement.

Laisse-faire capitalism has been dead in America since the end of the robber-baron era at the dawn of the 20th century, and good riddance. For nearly all of the past century Americans have lived with a slowly strengthening but comparatively weak safety net underpinning their daily existence. Compared to the rest of the developed world, including those nations with the most committed market-oriented economies, we provide a much weaker safety net for our citizens.

For instance, in America contributions to social security equal about 6% of GDP. In Germany, which hosts a strong and vibrant market-oriented economy, social security contributions represent 14 percent of GDP. Strengthening the social safety net in America should be on the national agenda for discussion without engendering the predictable tired and worn fears of socialism and Marxism.

Those who advocate a stronger safety net for the American people are quickly saddled with socialist, if not Marxist labels. And, of course, we have always had an assortment of bonafide socialists in the public square, seriously advocating for real economic socialism, i.e. control, if not ownership, of the means of production. The noise makes rational discussion and consideration nearly impossible.

Most Americans believe, or want to believe, in the American dream—that everyone can get ahead and rise to the full level of their potential. Many, perhaps most Americans, and certainly this writer, recoil at the thought of living under a stringent, planned, non-market-oriented economy that they see as the death knell for the American dream. So political campaigns that throw around terms like socialism turn off millions of voters. Here too, millions of voters who have had it with Trump, still tilted toward legislators at all levels of government who they believe will protect them from the imposition of socialism, let alone Marxism.

The message the majority of Americans have decisively sent in this election is that they can reject Trumpism and also reject what they see as political radicalism.

The election and the electorate both performed exceedingly well.

All comments regarding these essays, whether they express agreement, disagreement, or an alternate view, are appreciated and welcome. Comments that do not pertain to the subject of the essay or which are ad hominem references to other commenters are not acceptable and will be deleted.

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13 responses to “The Opposing Lessons of the 2020 Election”

  1. susan duman says:

    Thank you for my Sunday morning confirmation that, by and large, everything will probably be okay.

  2. Marilyn says:

    I can honestly say, I put nothing passed what this delusional sociopath is capable if doing. It’s clear the attorney general, secretary of state, and senate majority leader work for Trump. Intimidation and fear triumps over his administration, like nothing we’ve ever seen before, We can’t dismiss the fact, Trump has galvanized a movement in this country, that tears at the very heart of our democracy. I’ve always considered myself to be a “glass half full” person. I truly hope Bidens win will be one of renewal, as my glass feels a bit empty.

  3. Perry Green says:

    Biden very well might have won the election or if you will
    Trump might have lost. We shall see if he can select capable
    people to administer his programs.

    What is vitally needed is a Republican Senate to act as
    “Loyal Opposition” in any case.
    Let us hope we see some real comprise in both legislation and
    ideas going forward.

  4. sheila says:

    Perry Green – the fact that you would see a Republican Senate as “opposition” is as destructive and undermining to our democracy as Trump has been. Loyal opposition to what? To Biden and Harris? To the Squad? This is the Kool-Aid that McConnell and the Republican Senate have consumed under Trump – and they will be forever remembered as placing the will of a tyrant and their own political interests over Country. I sincerely hope they will attempt to redeem themselves by squaring with their constituencies about the destruction that Trump has wrought on our country, and by working in good faith with the Biden/Harris administration.

    That said, I agree with you Hal, that this election was both a referendum on Trump and on the positions taken by some of the Democrats in Congress on defunding the police and other fringe issues. I am mightily encouraged that our system has worked, that the would-be dictator has been voted out of office. But there is huge work to be done to bring the country together, and it will require enormous compromise on both sides if we are to secure our democracy to prevent hijacking from future autocrats and to prevent Trump from destabilizing our country any further with his deliberate and vicious attacks on the truth and his visions of alternative realities.

  5. Marc Belgrad says:

    In your estimation, Hal, did more self-proclaimed socialism emanate from the left or did more come from the tar-brush of the right? Or perhaps in equal amounts?

  6. Perry Green says:

    According to Rassmuson polling
    56 Percent voted for Biden 24 percent voted against
    Trump for his votes and yet he has approximately 20%
    more votes.????

    Let’s take a breather and investigate Dominion Computers
    before we rush to judgement.
    I know the Media is in a hurry, but am not yet satisfied.

  7. Barbara Treleaven says:

    It’s too bad that some Republicans feel they would be betraying the Party if they rebuked Trump’s divisiveness, lies and dishonesty. Where is the line drawn where someone’s words or actions become dishonorable, disgusting and not acceptable behavior? Thank heavens many Republicans, like myself, felt him unworthy of another term as President!

  8. Robert borns says:

    A very wise person-my mother- told me when I was young to watch the feet not the mouth. Meaning it’s more important to see what they do than what they say. Before trump we were sweet talked and led down the proverbial garden path by real liars,lightweights and scoundrels. Trump spoke policy truths and reality and many Americans can’t take truth. They are used to b s. Hopefully it’s not to late to reverse the years and years of going in a nosedive. Our policy of overspending and crazy borrowing has weakened us and limited our ability to reverse course and regain our strength. The inner city youth population is a mess. The education of these kids or lack of is very scary. Instead of addressing these real problems the trump haters are simply in a crazed hate mode and wasted four years in a frenzy of lies from idiots like congressman schiff. When America sees the leadership of the democrats I believe the republicans in two years will own the house and senate. The best thing going for the Democrats is Bidens chief of staff Ron klain a really brilliant Hoosier lantsman and a good guy.



  10. Stephen Prover says:

    Robert Borns I suffer from benign senescent forgetfulness.. Please help me remember.. How about a sampling of the policy truths and reality that Trump spoke… I must have been distracted by the incredible quantity of untruths, out and out lies and inability to deal with reality that I perceived on a daily basis… I wait your candid answer as I appreciate you abject objectivity.
    Fox News sadly has cause “fair and balanced” to become pejorative cliche.. Nevertheless as I read this weeks wonderful essay I could not think of any other way to characterize it… What a wonderful way to end this incredible election season which, although it has ended, is somehow not ended…

  11. Barbara Fromm says:

    HOORAY for Hal. Thank you for your astute essay.
    To those who still cannot understand that the people have spoken and the Biden /Harris ticket are the winners of the 2020 election , get real.
    Misogyny, deceit , fabrication, adultery, abdicating the responsibility of the Covid19 medical needs, the ECONOMY, unemployment ,food challenged families waiting inlines to receive handouts, bullying, risks to our national security, thwarting the transition process, adoration of autocrats, and the safe transition of our country for personal gains should acknowledge their country is at great risk. This list could go on and on given the narcissistic personality the present President is suffering from. We should be very concerned for our democracy.
    Worry as well for the leadership of the Senate of Mitch McDonnell whose unadulterated goal was to make sure Obama was prevented at every turn to succeed. He is out to do that to Biden/Harris again.
    Worry more more about our country , coming together and being united. We have so much to lose with the petty concerns of the election, of those who perceive it was rigged.
    Give some of your precious dollars to turn our country into a democracy and the land of the free and the home of the brave.

  12. sdjg says:

    Given the way, Trump has behaved before the election and after the results of the election were clear — like a bad seed, a spoiled, oppositionally defiant child who only wants what he wants, be damned the consequences to anyone else (or to his Country!) — I am astonished that any thinking adult would continue to support him. As Fareed Zakaria pointed out yesterday morning, every losing presidential candidate in modern history has conceded the election after the results were clear. Even Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote by 3 million or so, and had reason to believe the Russians were spreading horrific disinformation in support of Trump (remember the pizzagate blowup?) even she, gave her concession speech the following day. That is the foundation of our democracy.

    But Trump insists on humiliating himself and everyone who believes in him by spreading absurd and dangerous conspiracy theories about the election and undermining the confidence of his supporters in our democracy. And for what? To feed his own ego in the desperate hope that he will stay in power, to create maximum chaos and to further destabilize our country. Hopefully, he will soon face the new Justice Department and the SDNY and be too entangled in a legal morass of his own making, to spend much more time at this.

    I’m assuming that the Trump supporters who read this blog are educated and intelligent people. I’m asking a genuine question: Why would you buy the conspiracy theories that the election was fraudulent, when the overwhelming consensus of the election commission, the poll workers, Republican Governors, all the law firms which have now dropped him as a client, and finally, the courts, – the overwhelming concensus of these institutions is that no fraud existed?

    I honestly cannot understand why you continue to support the lies of a soon to be ex-President who has so grossly abused his power and who so clearly needs medical help. What does that say about you Trump supporters?

    Republicans will most likely have the Senate and will act as a check on the executive branch and the house. I only hope that they will compromise with this new President, who wants to bring calm, order and democratic values back to our country.

  13. Robert borns says:

    Dear Stephen. After the Second World War we dominated the world militarily and economically. Eighty five years later would you say we still hold the same positions? If you think trump has been wrong in his policy positions after my question more words from me would be a waste of words.

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