Election Night I went to sleep around 11 p.m. My heart hurt, I slept one of those fitful sleeps you have on airplanes or in hospital rooms. I woke up trying to figure out if it was morning or still the middle of the night. I felt slightly sick, my eyes dry and red from that worst kind of unrestful sleep. I went to sleep defeated, worried that we were facing another four years of Trumpism.
It was quite a shock, as I had been told in the weeks leading up to the election that I should expect a blue wave. I was told Democrats would pick up Georgia or North Carolina or maybe Florida. I was told Texas was “in play.” I was told that suburban women would save us, that the suburbs were turning against Trump, that America was going to for once and for all reject the racism, the stupidity, the sexism, the hate, the anti-science rhetoric.
I was told Democrats would easily take the Senate, and add seats to the House. I knew this was the repudiation of Trumpism that America needed. All of a sudden, I was greedy! Should we pack the courts, should we make Mitch McConnell the Senate shoeshine boy? Maybe AOC would take Gillibrand’s seat? Maybe not Medicare for All but a public option seemed possible.
Yes, the world was my oyster, the possibilities were endless, America was going to be better, we were going to be the soda commercial of my dreams. I was going to buy the world a Coke! But then last night happened, the polls were wrong. Texas may have been “in play,” but it played, and it plays, for Donald J. Trump.
But I woke to good news. The polls were not as wrong as we thought. And as I write this, it looks like a Biden victory is on the horizon. That’s good news for America, but we are likely looking down the barrel of a divided government. Democrats are probably not going to win the Senate and that means Cocaine Mitch will continue with his fuckery. And I’m not the only person who feels like this. This morning on the New Abnormal Podcast James Carville said to me, “If you would have said you’re gonna have the biggest election of our lifetime but the deal is you're gonna win the Electoral College and the popular vote, but you're gonna feel like shit about it.”
That’s because we did not stop Trumpism. Liberals like myself wanted a decisive victory against Trump. We wanted to show the rest of the world that America wasn’t a country of racist idiots. We wanted to strike a blow against the stupidity. We wanted to send a message that Trumpism was a fluke, that we were Obama’s America, not Trump’s. But Trumpism was not repudiated last night.
As a white woman, this particularly stings. There was a pre-election narrative that white women had finally learned their lesson and were going to break with Trump (and their husbands). The narrative was simple: White women had a conscience, and they were going to vote with it. Well, that turned out to be some wishful thinking on the part of the pundit class (including myself). It seems as if white women actually went for Trump by about 3 more percentage points than in 2016. Turns out white women don’t have more of a conscience than their husbands. Turns out white women relate more to their whiteness than their gender. Turns out white women do not want any better for America than their husbands do.
It looks at the moment like Trump is going to be defeated, but Trumpism has not been banished, as many of us would have liked. Racism, sexism, and stupidity have not been vanquished. Sure, Martha McSally may have shown that women can’t go full MAGA, but Lindsey Graham is definitive proof that MAGA still works for sycophantic white guys in the South. And a lot of shitty senators are on their way back to the Senate, including horrible, rotting Mitch McConnell, miserable, mealy-mouthed monster Susan Collins, grifter Tommy Tuberville, and horrendous Joni Ernst.
Joe Biden told his supporters on Wednesday, “I’m here to tell you tonight we believe we’re on track to win this election. I’m optimistic about this outcome.” And Joe Biden should feel optimistic. But America, well, America faces a long road to reconstruction. We weren’t rescued last night. Sure, Trump will probably be out of the White House in January, but Mitch McConnell is a lot more cunning than Donald Trump could ever be, and while the American population is shifting, as is evident by Georgia and North Carolina going bluer, America still has a long way to go.
I had hoped for two years of boring—a Biden presidency and a blue Senate and a blue House. I had hoped for boring infrastructure bills, hell, maybe a New Deal, and maybe it would be green. Sure, a blue government would be dull and maybe bad for my writing; but who cares, it was what was good for America. But that’s not what the next two years are going to look like. We don’t know what the next two years are going to look like, but they are not going to be boring, and that is a bad thing.