1) I wanted him humiliated, sure. But more than that, I wanted his entire philosophy humiliated. When I say "philosophy," I don't just mean the corporatism and the racism and the gluttony and the arrogant incompetence -- I mean the whining and the drama, the sense of having earned something you never came close to earning, the sense that you should nurse your deserved rejections as profound betrayals rather than wake-up calls, and (of course) the sense that your immediate pleasure is the literally the only thing that should matter to anyone and everyone. Thus I also wanted his votaries humiliated, but I suspect a lot of them will move on from our President more quickly than we're inclined to think. Trouble is they'll move on to things like QAnon and the Proud Boys and obsessing over antifa, just like they moved on to him from the "War on Terror" and the Tea Party and "Regulation Nation" and Blue Lives Matter and so many other outrages manufactured by the right.
How did we fail to humiliate this philosophy? Democrats, again, had a chance to nominate Bernie Sanders, with his popular agenda and incorrigible manner, but settled, again, this time for Joe Biden. Democrats aren't entirely to blame, of course -- plenty of Republicans professed displeasure with our President's obnoxiousness, etc., but were happy to reward him with their vote for all those judges and tax cuts. And Republicans still have a very sophisticated vote suppression operation; Democrats' only strategy against it (though, hey, at least this time they had one!) was to turn out every conceivable vote, though a hammer only does so much against a machine. And Republicans have more than one machine: they also have their ancient con of telling folks they must fend for themselves without their government's help and hey wouldn't everything be easier if black folks didn't get all these "goodies"? It's an easy argument to win -- our government is us, and the main "goody" black folks get is the higher likelihood of getting shot by police for brandishing a cellphone -- but a harder argument to kill.
So why do such arguments persist? Folks can't hold everything in their head at once even under ideal conditions, but we don't even have "ideal conditions," including the ability to provide for a family of four on a single income and the expectation that your children will do better than you thanks to inexpensive higher ed. As a friend of mine often says, we don't agree on what the truth is anymore, and we don't even agree on how we find truth anymore. But we've also become a people who don't shame each other for their bad ideas anymore -- people say "everyone has the right to an opinion" as if merely having an opinion also entitles them to respect for that opinion, which it certainly does not. Now, some folks who feel the same way I do about shaming blame "tolerance" and "political correctness" for that, but they're wrong -- we shouldn't shame people for being transgender or for calling out racism, but we should shame them for lying, for stealing, for arrogance, for ignorance, for cowardice, for gluttony, for unreliability, for all manner of corruption both earthly and spiritual. Before we can reconcile with our wayward countryfolk, they have to be ashamed of what they've done, so we better re-learn the art of shaming, not least because shame is one of the ways civilized people take care of problems so that they don't shoot each other over them.
2) Democrats will likely lose about a dozen House seats, though they'll still retain their majority, so of course center-right Democrats have been whining that all these liberal demands drove away moderate voters and cost them seats! In a land where Medicare-for-All polls about as well in rural areas as it does anywhere else, they might consider whether that all that talk about Medicare-for-All (just as a for-example) might have driven turnout up for Democrats, even in their districts! Naturally they overlook all the real reasons they lost seats: that our President was pretty much the opposite of the "drag" on down-ballot races pollsters said he'd be, and that when a political party wins back seats, they tend to win them back from the other party's more moderate members. Also, too, they're completely wrong about "liberal demands." The six Democratic House Reps who represent Republican-majority districts and who have also co-sponsored Medicare-for-All legislation in the House? They all won on Election Day. There's a solution in there, somewhere.
3) Theresa Greenfield, despite her against-the-odds success in the business world, lost the Iowa Senate race to incumbent Joni Ernst rather decisively. Cal Cunningham proved that infidelity still matters in elections (admittedly a comforting thought!) by losing to Thom Tillis in North Carolina, whose next 50% showing in a Senate race will be his first. Amy McGrath lost to Mitch McConnell by 20 points in Kentucky despite being a soldier once and you know Republicans like soldiers, right?, while Mary Hegar lost by over 10 to John Cornyn in Texas, same notation. Want to know what else all these folks have in common? They've all been unsuccessful candidates before! Amy McGrath and Mary Hegar lost House races in 2018, Ms. Greenfield couldn't get into the Iowa 3rd district primary that year after her campaign manager forged signatures, and Mr. Cunningham lost a Senate primary in 2010, which, admittedly, was 823 years ago. Your star recruits, ladies and gentlemen!
No use complaining that Democrats didn't have better options, because of course they did. Charles Booker, who damn near upset Ms. McGrath in the primary, would have been the better candidate against Mitch McConnell; maybe in 2022, when Rand Paul is up, we can run the experiment my way and see if fighting racial injustice plays well in the state where Breonna Taylor died. North Carolina state Sen. Erica Smith would have been vastly preferable to Mr. Cunningham, and guess what? An open seat looms there in 2022 as well. Royce West (among others!) might have better denied Mr. Cornyn re-election than the woman who made a good three-minute ad once. And you can't tell me there are no liberal economic populists in Iowa, though you can tell me that Democratic pols don't bother looking for them. Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Cori Bush have, over the last two cycles, knocked off well-established Democrats to win their primaries. Democratic leadership should ask them how to win, maybe?
4) Barring a pair of victories in the two January runoffs in Georgia, Mitch McConnell will lead a Republican majority in the Senate which will be able to block Joe Biden's Cabinet nominees pretty much at will. This is a given, even if Mr. Biden thinks his bipartisan mojo is better than everyone else's (spoiler alert: it's not). Our President-elect has, as far as I can see, three options: 1) cut deals with Mr. McConnell, which, like, no, because you don't cut deals with evil; 2) run to Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and Mitt Romney to make deals, which, like, also no, because they'll be tools of Mr. McConnell; or 3) nominate the best people for the various Cabinet jobs, watch them get rejected, and then take a page from our current President's playbook and name them acting Cabinet secretaries. By law, Mr. Biden will have to replace all of them within a few months, but nobody should care about the names; everyone should care if they do good works.
5) I gave $200 to Doug Jones's re-election campaign. This is my first campaign donation in eight years, and I'm proud of it. Now, Doug Jones was no liberal as a Senator, but he was the guy who put two of the Birmingham bombers in jail, and if you do that, you're a damn superhero and of course you should be Senator. Naturally, Alabama voters turned Mr. Jones out in favor of a college football coach who doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground. If that frees up Mr. Jones for Attorney General in a Biden Administration, I suppose I'll deal.
6) Races generally seemed off two or three points from polls in 2016, but this year they seemed five or six points off -- partly because, as I've said, our current President actually boosted turnout down-ballot rather than trampled it -- so now Frank Luntz has said that polling is dead, and all I can say is: not a moment too soon! Of course Mr. Luntz doesn't study public opinion so much as try to shape it in his preferred direction, but that's not even the best reason the Death of the Poll would be a good thing -- all that polling about candidates just induces us to be spectators in our democracy, not actors. Best we help shape public opinion by, you know, communicating with each other and persuading each other, rather than looking around to see which egghead might best have their finger to the wind.
7) Joe Biden has repeatedly said that our current President, and the shit he's stirred up, doesn't represent "who we are." But has the unexpected closeness of this election told us that this is, in fact, who we are? I sympathize with folks who say so. But I won't. I've seen folks at their best and at their worst, and I remain convinced that, as Dr. King said, the arc of history bends toward justice, even though it doesn't look like an arc from underneath so much as a flat plank. And ultimately, in America, "who we are" is aspiration as well as description, and though I don't have the gifts to help about a quarter of this electorate, we certainly don't meet our aspirations in America by assuming we're innately corrupt and irredeemable as a people. So though so many folks I love will drink from that cup, I won't.