No Blue Wave, but Trump’s Dead in the Water
As Danielle and Toure record this episode of democracy-ish, Joe Biden holds a lead in the Electoral College count so far. Coupled with solid leads in Nevada and Arizona, he’s “on the one-yard line,” says Toure. But that’s no place to do an end-zone victory dance.
Election Night is Election Week, because 2020. And although the much-hoped-for “blue wave” was barely a splash (since polls are apparently trash), all signs point to a Biden-Harris victory.
As usual, Black folks turned out to do the right thing, even if half the electorate did not. But it looks like the Senate will remain under malevolent turtle Mitch McConnell’s control.
Trump claimed victory even though hundreds of thousands of ballots are still uncounted, alleging fraud. No surprise there. But with such deep divides across the country, how will President Biden govern effectively?
“As far as I'm concerned, the headline is, once again: Black people, and specifically Black women, saved America,” Toure says, noting the overwhelming support for Biden among voters in cities like Detroit and Milwaukee.
And although the blue wave we hoped for turned out to be barely a splash, it looks like Biden has a path to 270 and at least one branch of government will function normally again.
“When all of this is said and done, I want the fucking headlines to say Black America, once again, saves America from itself,” says Danielle.
The other big headline for Toure is that “the amount of racism, and acceptance of Trump's racism, is insane and massive and frightening. I didn't think after years of incompetence, lying, failing … we’d see 68 million people line up and think, yeah –– we can do four more years of that.”
Though both our hosts are exhausted from the chaos, it’s not over yet. And they’ve got plenty of choice words for voters, pollsters –– and, of course, the doddering gasbag who we the people will (fingers crossed) soon evict from our property at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Episode Highlights –– Election Madness
The ‘celebratorily’ racist half of America
For Danielle, the most difficult truth to face right now is that roughly half of the electorate aligns its values with Trump in spite of his abject inhumanity.
“As Black people, we see children in cages –– our ancestors were there. Broken-up families –– that happens to us. It's really hard for us to process, as good people, that nearly 70 million Americans are just inherently, celebratorily racist.”
That leads to another big takeaway for Toure: “We’re just barely beating the worst president of all time … I wonder if and how the Democratic party needs to change.”
We can point and laugh at Trump voters and say they're racist idiots and they don’t know what’s really going on because they watch Fox all day. But we also have to take a hard look at ourselves, Toure explains.
“You can't force other people to change, but you can change if you're not getting the results you want,” he adds.
“I’m not saying we need to appease the racists. Fuck the racists. And the GOP also needs to do some soul searching … but we [Democrats] could be a better party if we do some work and figure out why we’re not more effective.”
For whom the bell tolls polls
It’s a bit too early to analyze the 2020 race writ large, but one thing does seem clear: The polls were (mostly) wrong –– again.
Is it because of unprecedented turnout on both sides? Because the COVID-19 pandemic skewed predictable voting patterns? Or is it because of the purported “shy Trump voter” phenomenon?
“People do lie to pollsters because it is still not outwardly socially acceptable to be a rabid racist,” says Danielle, pointing out that most Trump supporters are like the ones we see at MAGA rallies –– red-hatted, threatening Black Lives Matter protesters and trying to run people off the road.
“But then there's the 12% who are shaking my hand and waving to me as they go into their voting booths and vote against my life.”
Toure doesn’t think there’s a significant number of sub-rosa Trump voters either.
“I find they’re very loud and proud about their bullshit,” he says. “But at some level, American polling is dead.”
Here’s the tea: poll numbers are flawed AF
Toure is the first to admit he was lulled into a false sense of confidence through “consistent numbers from A-plus pollsters for six-plus months” that suggested Biden was winning by a significant margin –– along the lines of eight to 10 points.
If Uncle Joe does pull off a win, it will be by two or three points –– more like Hillary Clinton’s popular-vote margin.
“It correlates with our very divided country,” says Toure. “But the way American pollsters are gauging what's going on is fundamentally broken.”
In 2016, polls predicted a Clinton win, but with a tight margin. This year, they predicted a Biden blowout.
“I’ve been consistently saying polls are bullshit, even before 2016,” Danielle says. “It’s like reading tea leaves. You can get polls to say whatever you want depending on how you ask the question.”
Plus, pollsters continue to poll in the same way, she adds –– as if our system is “one person, one vote,” not an outdated Electoral College that favors a handful of swing states.
“We're polling as if we live in a real democracy.”
McConnell does McConnell
Danielle thinks we should stop relying on polls entirely. But Toure points out that a lot of folks use them to make critical decisions.
“I want the polling industry mea culpa –– a deep explanation of why they got this so wrong. I need something different from that entire industry because it’s not properly serving America. Mitch McConnell decided against a second stimulus bill because he thought Trump was about to go down in flames and didn't want to help Joe Biden.”
Danielle isn’t so sure about that: “I don't think Mitch McConnell makes decisions based on the polls. Mitch McConnell makes decisions based on Mitch McConnell.”
Either way, in light of Dems’ apparent failure to flip the Senate, it looks like we’re headed for four more years of obstruction at the hands of Moscow Mitch. Toure says he’ll probably treat Biden the way he treated Obama –– that is, do everything in his power to make it look like the president can’t accomplish anything.
“McConnell’s not going to be able to just sit there and twiddle his thumbs and say, I'm gonna make Joe Biden a one-term president when the country is in the shitter and he helped it get there,” says Danielle.
“Of course he will,” Toure replies.
‘Principles’ over getting sh*t done
While Republicans send elected officials to D.C. to be principled, “Democrats send their people to D.C. to get stuff done,” says Toure. “Which means compromise.”
Republicans would rather wage legislative war than compromise, so he worries that Biden will be “damaged and vulnerable in that climate. We thought McConnell did that to Obama because of racism. No: This is the modern Republican legislative strategy.”
Danielle wants to see Democrats sue the pants off McConnell, who’s “been taking money from the Russians and doing a lot of shady shit.”
She still doesn’t understand why Dems didn’t litigate over his theft of Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court seat.
“I'm no attorney, but I don't know what you can do with a Senate that’s constructed so any individual senator can stop pretty much any action,” says Toure. “He's not acting outside of Senate rules.”
Danielle disagrees: “The Constitution gives the president the power to nominate members of the Supreme Court. So McConnell violated the Constitution and we didn't do anything about it. We can’t continue to allow people like him to stop our democracy from functioning. Or think that just shaming them in public, which they [Dems] don't do well either, will be sufficient in these dire times.”
‘Identity politics’ = Fig leaf for racism
Danielle knows the 2020 election postmortem think pieces will be plentiful. But she’s already tired of the narrative about Democratic soul-searching.
“There's no messaging that will land when half the goddamn country is racist,” she says. “What can we can offer these people –– to make them what? Not put their whiteness first? Not trade on it?”
Toure thinks we need to deal with racism without appeasing racists. But it can be a challenge.
Case in point: Andrew Sullivan tweeted yesterday: I know that Trump is unfit. But the left is so much about identity politics.
“Wow,” says Toure. “The complete intellectual and emotional incompetence of Donald Trump, his inability to do the basic job, weighs equally or perhaps less heavily for you than the Democratic Party saying, we need to care about the political needs and feelings of people who aren't straight white men.”
That's clearly racism at play. But he told Andrew Sullivan he’s a racist –– or even that's racist, “he’d go no, what are you talking about?” Toure exclaims in his best Queen’s English accent. “That's not racist at all!”
A very fine ‘f*ck your feelings’ on both sides
Danielle wonders why nobody seems to think Trump isn’t trafficking in “identity politics” by uplifting white supremacy.
“Thought leadership” arguments like Sullivan’s are tone-deaf and infused with inherent privilege, she adds.
“That's not thought. That is just perpetuating the same line of bullshit that white people, white men, in particular, have been doing since the beginning of time. White voters are so fragile and so scared of anybody else gaining anything because they operate from a place of scarcity. I'm tired of that conversation.”
What should Democrats do instead?
“Stop chasing white women, because they don't fuck with you,” says Danielle. “Stop talking about the working white class when the majority of working-class people are women of color. Stop with the narrative bullshit that makes white people feel good about themselves.”
She’s over it –– and so are most Black people, she notes.
“We're the ones who continually show up, put this country on our backs and put it back together again, only for then Democrats and Republicans alike to turn around and say: You know what we really need to do? Talk to that disaffected white voter and see why their feelings are so hurt. Fuck their feelings.”
Turns out, Republicans aren’t down for the count
Toure grew up watching Election Night returns and he has every year since. It’s always painful when your candidate loses, he says.
“But there's something about the last two election nights that have become particularly traumatizing. It's more than just Trump winning, or the potential of him winning this time, which is the seeming existential threat to our lives and our spirits.”
Tuesday night was so gut-wrenching “because of the ways that Republicans have sought to make voting arduous, to make counting difficult, to make the whole process distasteful as much as they can,” he adds.
He points out that the post-Tuesday chaos, including the multi-day count, didn’t happen accidentally. There are multiple states with Republican legislatures that barred election officials from starting to count ballots until Election Day.
Where’s the value in that?
“The potential for Trump and the Republicans to say stop counting.”
‘Fraud’ or fascism?
Indeed, Trump and his MAGA minions have been trying to stem the tide of mail-in ballots, which tend to favor Democrats in most places, with the expected shenanigans: disinformation, lawsuits and IRL demonstrations of intimidation outside boards of election.
It didn’t take long for Trump to claim victory. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, he was already alleging voter fraud in a speech straight out of the fascist playbook.
“I have rarely been so frightened throughout the past five years of political life,” says Toure, noting that even if Biden does win, millions of people will think he’s an illegitimate president, no evidence necessary.
“It will just become just an article of faith on the right –– the election was stolen. I wonder what impact it will have on the country going forward.”
Danielle saw a tweet this week that made this point: If Democrats did steal the election, then why the fuck wouldn't they have stolen the Senate too?
She adds: “My Black grievances have an impact on this country as well.”
‘The Grudge’: 2024? Not so fast
The ‘Pubs are the party of “political grudge holders,” to use Toure’s phrase. Impact is one thing, but he wonders: What bad behavior it will justify? What if McConnell blocks Biden from doing anything at all, including nominating his own Supreme Court justice(s)?
“Biden wants to bring the temperature down, to cool the country. And I don't think Republicans see that in their interest. They want this tenor to remain high, for their people to remain aggrieved. So in 2022 and 2024, they are ready for war. To get behind Don Jr. or Ivanka.”
There’s not (other than a felony conviction, of course) anything to stop Donald Trump from running again.
“Get ready for that,” Toure tells Danielle.
“No, I'll have a new job by then. I'm not interested in repeating history,” she replies.
“On the note of Danielle getting a new job, which would definitely be a loss to American media, thank you for listening. I think we pulled it out. We still have a country,” says Toure.
“Sir, let's not be so premature. When all the ballots are counted and we're assured we have a president-elect whose name is Joe Biden, then we can say we still have a country,” says Danielle.
“There’s a lot of shit that can happen between now and Inauguration Day. We know that a lot of shit will happen. Let's continue to breathe … and pray about it.”
Get your weekly rundown of the presidential election from a Black progressive point of view on democracy-ish. Consider Danielle Moodie and Toure as your tour guides, flight attendants and/or therapists as we move through this dumpster fire of an election cycle — together!