About the election, Democrats, why the long faces? The Democratic left is whining that the party was far too centrist and the centrists that it was far too left. How can Mitch McConnell still be in charge of the Senate? And honey, who shrunk our House majority? The polls? Go poll yourself.
Whether we stop the counting, as Donald Trump wishes, or keep at it, barring divine or satanic intervention Joe Biden has won the presidency, so what’s really keeping the champagne corked? Simple. We were promised a blue wave, a repudiation of the president and the crowd he brought in with him. Instead, we’re confronted by the fact that despite knowing everything, nearly half the country still loves Trump and with a passion rarely seen outside countries like North Korea where it’s required. About 46 percent of the country and 87 percent of Republicans approve of Trump, and more of them voted for him in 2020 than in 2016.
It should have been a rout of such proportions that Trump would flee to exile at Mar-a-Lago or to a country without an extradition treaty. To the contrary, it’s confirmed: Trump could stand idly by as 235,000 Americans died on Fifth Avenue and not lose one supporter.
The attraction to Trump of the 40-plus percent is beyond reason, a dalliance in the Seven Deadly Sins from pride to envy to gluttony to lust and, my favorite, sloth. His male supporters admire his hedonist’s ways, a casino playboy with three wives and mansions everywhere. He has an awesome plane and his own militia, defies male pattern baldness and carries a few extra pounds, yet still gets the ladies who flock to him because he’s a star. He doesn’t have to pay his bills or his taxes, and he owes the banks so much money, he owns the banks. He can no longer run a charity for kids with cancer because he skimmed the donations, but he can still run the United States.
It’s a vicarious life but better than thinking about the pickup on its last wheel and the lawn grown weedy. He feels his fans’ pain and their anger. The global elites have sent their jobs to China, and China sent a virus to their meatpacking plants and factory floors. The kids can’t find jobs, and their actual wives keep them from having a bit of fun. This isn’t sexist; Trump’s most fervent fans are male, real men who don’t wear masks, gaze at their open-carry permits when having a bad day, and tune into the White House soap opera to know they have a friend in Trump.
Biden wants to get them back. That’s the kind of guy—to a fault—he is, unlike Trump, who never made a gesture toward those who didn’t vote for him. In a deadly crisis, he told Democrat-run cities and states to fend for themselves. At his rallies, he was still hating on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton when he wasn’t trashing Lady Gaga and John Legend.
It’s a tall order for Biden to get the hard core back. There’s no aisle to reach across. The lemmings in Congress, their man- and womanhood in a blind trust, have whispered “count the votes” but, otherwise, have their fingers raised to the wind waiting for a Category 5 storm to tell them which way it’s blowing.
But there is the quiet segment who’d just like a break and could hear Democrats if they could speak Trumperanto, more like the regular guy Trump mimics in his crass way and less like habitués of the faculty lounge at Harvard.
Before I started using words like “habitué,” I grew up among Trump voters in a suburb of Harrisburg, that part of Pennsylvania between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh called Alabama, the eighth oldest state, not because snowbirds retire there but because not that many leave. My neighbors felt economically fragile, culturally marginalized, and belittled by the elites. They like their coffee from Wawa, which is good since the State Capitol complex still doesn’t have a Starbucks. They were Knights of Columbus Catholics, veterans and cops and government employees of Colonel Vindman caliber. They had pictures of JFK on the wall but voted for Reagan and would be catnip to a candidate like Trump.
Still, the Biden who grew up in Scranton would have them at hello.
Midweek in Arizona, where Trump won by 3-1/2 points in 2016, Team Trump was out in full red regalia, armed and swathed in camo from Walmart, with lawyers in pinstripes nearby looking for something to sue over. Stop for a moment and look at various state officials popping out of accounting rooms to give periodic updated results, in wonder and gratitude for the civil servants who, usually unnoticed, keep the country running. One thing to cure the long faces is that despite a pandemic and despite an assault from the White House, the likes of which we’ve never seen, the sanctity of the vote survived.
And so too a rough justice. In the final hours of election 2020, Trump was clinging to every vote out of the Grand Canyon State, home to Sen. John McCain, whom Trump made his nemesis for no particular reason other than to proclaim himself better than everyone else. While McCain was hanging by his arms in a tiger cage in Hanoi, refusing early release unless his men came with him, Mr. Bone Spurs, by his own account, was fighting his own war avoiding STDs in Manhattan. Candidate Trump told a crowd that McCain was only considered a hero because he was captured. “I like people who weren’t captured,” he said. He kept at McCain, for losing to Obama, his supposed neglect of veterans, and his decisive thumbs-down that strangled the GOP’s first attempt to kill Obamacare in its crib.
Cindy McCain was there that day, weeping when her husband got a standing ovation in his first trip after surgery for a brain tumor that would kill him. A wife doesn’t forget. Despite being a die-hard Republican from a military family, she first criticized Trump for crimes against humanity and then, upon reflection, appeared in a widely broadcast ad giving Biden her heartfelt endorsement.
Some chickens come home to roost, even for the rooster crowing. The worst emotional wounds are the ones we inflict on ourselves. As he faced defeat, hiding out in the White House, did Trump wonder if Arizona might have gone differently if he’d been a kinder, gentler person? Not now, and not soon, while he plays to his adoring fans, howling about illegal votes, maybe having a rally or two for old time’s sake. But maybe someday, when the long faces will long since have vanished and no one will care.