Consider this assessment of the election results by Van Jones of CNN on election night:
I think a lot of Democrats are hurt tonight. We wanted to see a repudiation of this direction for the country. And the fact that it’s this close, I think…it hurts; it just hurts. There’s the moral victory, and there’s the political victory; they are not the same. The Democratic political victory might still come. But I believe people wanted a moral victory tonight. There were people hoping for a big repudiation in this election and that has not yet come; and because of that, a lot of people are hurt and scared tonight in the Democratic Party.
You can almost taste the disappointment of the reality check here from a highly visible voice of the mainstream media establishment that their four-year campaign to discredit the Trump administration as illegitimate has been a total failure. You can also feel the sanctimony–moral victory?–give me a break, but it’s what we have become accustomed to from the sanctimonious left.
Some close observers of this presidential election campaign, such as John Fonte, characterized it in apocalyptic terms as analogous to the antebellum challenge to American republicanism by the Southern states, a showdown that would be the equivalent of a “regime election” like the one in 1860. And certainly this could have been that if it had played out in ways that suited Van Jones and his fellow travelers in the media. But it didn’t. The “Red Wall” and the Trump “deplorables” held. As I write, Joe Biden is within a half dozen Electoral College votes from reaching the necessary 270 for victory, the recounts and litigation are proceeding in a few states, and control of the Senate looks to be safely in GOP hands. So granted, we dodged a bullet, and I think did so in a way that, even with a Biden victory, the far left of his party won no mandate for their radical transformative agenda–Supreme Court packing, Electoral College reform, elimination of the Senate filibuster, Puerto Rico and DC statehood, bailouts for mismanaged state and local governments, etc.–for the forseeable future. And the fact that the Republicans picked up at least a half dozen House seats, probably more, weakens the Speaker’s hand in legislative leadership. It was not a good night for Speaker Pelosi or for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
So where does this leave Donald Trump and his legacy, assuming he can’t pull out what would be an almost miraculous victory in a recount? I’ll have more to say about this later, but for now I’ll just make this point: Trump’s leadership of the country into populist nationalism is not going away and I predict that a generation from now he will be remembered much more significantly for leadership on many policy choices that will have made a positive difference for Americans than for the personality characteristics and governance style that irrationally and unfortunately led to his likely defeat.
Meanwhile, what we have anticipated for several weeks now as a result of ill-advised court decisions involving mail ballots is becoming a reality with the ballot counts and recounts and inevitable litigation. What a mess that was avoidable. More to come after the recounts and litigation have run their course.