Suspended Animation

Donald Trump is leaving the country in a state of suspended animation with conservative and liberal forces evenly matched.

The next big test is the election of two Senators in Georgia. Republican control was eroded on election day and Mitch McConnell currently has 50 Senators supporting him. If even one Republican is elected in Peachtree State, he will remain in power and able to stifle big initiative by President-elect Biden.

If by some stroke of good fortune, the Democrat take both seats, they will control the Senate.

Politics has changed. The Democratic candidates in Georgia are a politician who personifies suburban distaste for Republicans and the minister from the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King used to preach. Democratic hopes in this deep South state rest on the election of a Black and a Jew. Political change is staring us in the face.

The bad news is that on Nov 3 the Democrats had fewer votes for the Senate than the combined votes that went to Republicans but no Republican reached 50% hence the January 5th run off.

The Democratic candidates are Jon Ossoff who has run for Congress in suburban Atlanta almost flipping a Republican District, and the Rev Dr. Raphael Warnock. He had the most votes on Nov 3rd, but he was running against two Republicans. Their combined total was 636,633 more votes than the minister received.

The Republicans have the advantage, nothing is certain because this has been a year of massive turnouts. Politics is changing.

In 2016, Donald Trump’s 2.09 M votes easily topped Hillary in Georgia. This year the President’s total jumped 18% to 2.47M nonetheless Biden did way better than Clinton. His support surged 32% to 2,474,507. In four years, he added 596,544 votes, making him the victor by 12,670.

This is the puzzle rattling President Trump; how could he dramatically increase his vote and still lose. To no one’s surprise he shouts robbery. Compounding the agony, the Republicans stopped Democrats from controlling new areas when election boundaries are drawn up after the census is completed. The number of Democratic and Republican state legislature is unchanged. Another sign of the stalemate between liberal and conservative forces.

This surge in Republican support has made Donald Trump flounder when asked to concede. His explanation for the Biden victory is the Democrats cheated. But in fact 2020 is a historic election where more people voted than ever in history.

To explain Biden’s victory by a shift in suburban votes is false news. This election had the biggest turnout ever. A majority of whites voted for Trump. Democracy Now TV anchor, and Rutgers University Professor Juan Gonzalez reports that exit polls showed that even 58% of white woman voted for Trump.

A Republican shift to Democrats or gaining a new white suburban constituency does not explain Biden’s win. The added Latinx, Black, native American tribes and Asian votes pushed Biden over the top. Gonzalez argues “in an election which saw historic turnout, people of color — and especially Latinos — had an unprecedented increase in voting.” More people voted than ever before. More Republicans voted, more Democrats voted and the Democrat often did not get a majority of the white vote. Other voting groups put the Democrats over the top.

Gonzalez states flatly,for the first time in U.S. history Latinos’ turnout appears to have reached comparable levels to the rates for white and Black Americans. 20.6 million Latinos went to the polls in this election.

It marks a turning point for Latinx voters. 64% of the 32 million eligible Hispanic voters’ showed up the polls. In previous election cycles Gonzales said, “the turnout had been routinely below 50%. In raw numbers, 8 million more Latinos voted this year than in 2016. That’s a 63% increase over the last presidential elections.”

Yet this good news is obscured by stories in the Times in LA and New York. These two newspapers described Latino support as disappointing because Latinx support in South Florida helped Trump win the Sunshine States.

An acerbic Chuck Rojas, Bernie Sanders Latino specialist, asked the LA Times why discuss Latinos “underperforming.” when in fact “Joe Biden won Latinos in Florida statewide, while losing white people,” It is white people who should be the focus said Rocha, “That’s who we should be talking about.” Democrats are deluded if they forget whites supported Trump, while the other groups backed Biden.

 When all the votes are counted Latinx votes are Democratic and a key to victories in close states like Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia.

In Arizona, Trump’s popular support soared 34% from 2016. His vote rose from 1.25M to 1.66 M in 2020, but he still lost; Biden’s total climbed 44% to 1.67M for a narrow victory.

Florida’s Cuban and Venezuelan refugees from Latin American socialism may back Republicans, but when all the votes were counted Rocha said Florida Latin voters back the Democrats. In other States the Spanish-speaking also backed Democrats.  But not exclusively, Republicans won a decent share of Black and Spanish-speaking voters.

“Black men on the other hand have been inching away from the Democrats in recent elections,” reports NY Times Columnist Charles M Blow.  They “continued that drift in this election. In 2008, 5 percent of Black men voted for John McCain; in 2012, 11 percent voted for Mitt Romney; in 2016, 13 percent voted for Trump; and, this year 18 percent voted for Trump.” Vivid proof of this trend occurred in Utah where a Black Republican beat a Democrat member of Congress.

Democrats lost the house seat to a former NFL football star. Burgess Owens a strong defender of Trump who flipped Utah’s 4th Congressional District back to Republican, one of at least nine seat the GOP gained in this election.

This growing Republican strength may increase Black bargaining power with Republicans

The Republicans hold 50 seats in the Senate, the Democrats need two more seat to create a tie which would give Vice-President Kamala Harris’s a vote giving Democrats a majority by the thinnest of margins.

This electoral stalemate appears to handcuff Joe Biden. He should go to Georgia and explain to the voters he needs two Democratic Senators if he is to do his job. But the totals in November are discouraging. Biden could put his prestige on the line and then lose. He may light no path that bring voters back to the polls in large numbers and then his prestige takes a substantial hit.

Unhappily, a divided congress will also harm Biden’s prestige. It will make him look weak and frustrated as his plans are thwarted or watered down.

Going to Georgia would require that Biden blame Republicans for failures in the first term. It would require an excited and pugnacious leader, unfortunately Biden is pledged to work with Republicans. It didn’t work for Obama, the Republicans stifled change and then won the election with Trump, perhaps they have learned a lesson.