A Bit of Hope Ahead

by Richardt Stormsgaard

The Wisconsin primary confirmed the trend from the successive Super Tuesday wins by Joe Biden. College educated suburban/urban and moderate working class voters flocked to the voting stations even as they feared contracting the covid-19 virus to cast their votes in a reaction to ruthless Republican voter suppression measures, upheld by our conservative/right-wing SCOTUS. These results are doubly encouraging because they are consistent with the general results from the 2018 mid-term elections, providing more evidence of a real and deeper shift in current voting patterns.

Daily Kos founder, Markos Moulitsas, wrote an article 4/14/20 in Daily Kos “What happened last night should terrify the GOP”. Mr Moulitsas ascribed the strong turn-out under very difficult conditions to Sanders supporters in part although I believe it was more attributable to the Biden surge. Biden beat Sanders by 2 to 1 in a state where Sanders had beaten Hillary Clinton by double digits four years earlier. Another very positive result from that primary was the win of Jill Karofsky to the state supreme court offering some hope that the extreme voter suppression in Wisconsin may face significant obstacles from their supreme state court in future elections.

On 3/16/20 Mr Moulitsas had written a sort of obituary over the Sanders campaign titled “Bernie’s revolution fizzled on first contact with actual voters. It didn’t have to be like that”. He criticized the Sanders campaign for sticking to a strategy of concentrating on 30% of the most leftist voters, hoping to receive the nomination as the best performing candidate rather than softening his rhetoric to receive a more substantial share of primary voters. The second part of that title, “It didn’t have to be that way” suggests that Mr Moulitsas believes that had Sanders perhaps achieved around 50% by tempering his positions he could have won the nomination and possibly the general election.

Regardless of whether 30% or 50% of Democratic primary voters support the Democratic nominee more than two out of three American voters declare themselves either independent or Republican and it will be these voters, well to the right of a leftist democrat nominee, who will decide the general election. According to most recent Gallup polling from February 2020 independents make up 39%, Republicans 30%, and Democrats only 29% of the voting population respectively.

It should go without saying that it is difficult for a candidate with even 50% of 29% support of the total voting population to succeed in a national election. It becomes an even steeper climb when you consider that millions of voters in Democratic districts in about a dozen Republican states will again be either impeded in or outright prevented from casting their votes. Making matters even more dire is the fact that the final outcome of the presidential election will be decided by the Electoral College which favors states with older, whiter, more conservative voters regardless of how many more million Americans vote for the Democratic candidate over the Republican candidate.

The US electoral system is outdated and undemocratic in many ways but it is the reality we need to exist within if we want to win elections. Our traditional Western allies around the world are generally among the 20 or so nations designated as “full democracies” by the World Economic Forum in their report on the state of democracy around the world, but since 2017 the US has slipped into the second tier of “flawed democracies.”

In the early primary season when around half the Democratic candidates advocated for Medicare-for-All and the New Green Deal a New York Times poll in late November, 2019, showed that 60% of 2016 Trump voters in swing states who switched over to the Democratic side in the 2018 mid-term elections now again were planning to support Trump in the 2020 election. FiveThreeEight polling at that time projected a less than 20% chance of Democrats winning the Senate in 2020. Since the collapse of the Sanders campaign the odds have dramatically improved, and FiveThreeEight polling now indicates there is a good chance that Democrats gain outright control of the Senate on top of winning the presidency in 2020.

Contrary to claims from the far left Democrats have worked for universal health care and better environmental legislation since at least 1980, but have met massive resistance from American voters and the Republican Party. Both Bill Clinton and Obama had to navigate Republican majorities in both the House of Representatives and Senate. We have reason to hope that after almost four disastrous years under the Trump regime voters will send a strong message to politicians to provide funding for universal health care for all Americans through some sort of expansion of the ACA, and that improved and updated environmental legislation based on the principles of the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act will be implemented to address the climate crisis in the US and around the world by a strong Democratic majority in Congress.

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