The 2020 election has come and gone, and at the time of writing, Joe Biden has won the presidency. While the House and Senate are still not officially called, it looks like the Republicans will hold the Senate, keeping about the same advantage they held until now, while the Democrats will hold the House, losing a number of seats. Unfortunately, we still have a ways to go before we see the actual final results for the next two years. President Trump is beginning his lawsuits, many races have yet to be officially called, and we will be watching not one, but two Senate seats up for grabs in a Georgia runoff. Until all that dust settles, we won’t be able to really begin to comprehend the policy changes that we can expect over the next two years, and for now, I am going to hold off on those predictions. For now, I want to focus on what the two major political parties should take away from the 2020 elections, and why they will both fail to do so.
What Democrats Should Learn
Democrats took a beating this year. In what was supposed to be a blue wave akin to that of 2018, they were able to regain the presidency, but failed in their bid to grab control of the Senate, and lost a number of seats in the House. In fact, according to Nate Silver’s polling aggregating site fivethirtyeight, the Democrats had a 75% chance of taking the Senate. Furthermore, Democrats failed to flip a single house legislature and even managed to lose one or two. That is huge, given the fact that redistricting will happen this year, and with so many state legislatures in the hands of Republicans in key battleground states, this could lead to the next 10 years of Republican dominance at state and federal levels.
So what should Democrats take out of this? Firstly, a lot of Democrats have already pointed to the policies that Democrats have been pushing. We learned a lot of this from a leaked conference call for all House Democrats last week. Moderate representative Abigail Spanberger, who won her reelection campaign in Virginia by only one point, ripped into the party for advancing certain talking points and policies, like the effort to defund the police, as well as socialist agenda items. These may have been referring to policies pushed by members of the Squad, such as free public college, tuition forgiveness, and the Green New Deal.
And honestly, this is where the Democratic Party should be heading. There is no question that these areas are some of their lowest rated in public opinion. Additionally, they just lost their highest rated opinion in that Donald Trump must be stopped. A very small percentage of the country voted for Joe Biden. Much more voted against Donald Trump. In losing Trump, they lose a huge reason for people to come out to vote for them. In four years, there will be far fewer numbers of people coming out to vote for generic Democrat if he or she won’t be running against Donald Trump. Democrats must begin to listen to the moderate wing of their coalition. The far left didn’t provide the blue wave in 2018. The far left didn’t win the presidency. It was the moderates that got both of them, and the Republicans were able to paint the moderates as extremists just for being in the same party as the extremists who get the media attention.
Why Democrats Won’t Learn
The biggest problem the Democrats face is that their coalition is too diverse – yes, too diverse. The left wing vehemently disagrees with the moderates. While there is some dissention in the Republican Party, the various sides are much closer together than that of their counterparts. Democrats will always have to sacrifice one side of the party, and will therefore always lose some support. The reason the Democrats won’t learn to move towards the moderate wing is that the moderate wing represents the seats they lost this election. In losing the ten or so seats in the House, Democrats became “lefter.” The Squad is now a higher percentage of the makeup of the representation, and the extreme left of the party, those who represent the bluest districts in America, are convinced that the reason that Democrats didn’t win as much as they should have is because the messaging wasn’t far left enough.
Democrats are not going to be able to move towards the moderate wing because the moderate voices are decreasing in number. It wouldn’t surprise me if Nancy Pelosi will be voted out as Speaker after her abysmal job in handling the election. These results will push the Democrats even further to the left, as they will learn precisely the opposite lesson from that which the American voter is trying to teach. And again, in 2022, there will be no Donald Trump to use as a whipping boy. You will hear more doubling down on defunding the police and free college, and in 2022, the red wave will eat it up.
What Republicans Should Learn
Republicans gained a strong foothold in many minority communities. While black men still voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden (80%), that is way down from Barack Obama’s 2008 election (95%). That percentage has been steadily dropping over the last 12 years. Republicans also made significant gains in the Hispanic and, shockingly, LGBT communities. They were also able to win back a large number of suburban votes they’d lost in 2016 and 2018.
What Republicans need to do is continue to make headway into the minority communities. The message of the Republican party always needed to have been that of “giving a man a fish vs. teaching a man to fish.” They were handed this on a silver platter from our next Vice President, Kamala Harris, during her primary debate. In one of the debate seasons “highlights,” Harris interjected in the middle of a bickering session, “America does not want to witness a food fight. They want to know how we’re going to put food on their table.” I don’t understand how that didn’t become a talking point for Republicans. Americans don’t want or need the government to put food on their tables. They want jobs to make it possible to put food on their own tables. Government isn’t there to provide for you. This must be a message moving forward, and it is one that resonates with all Americans, but especially those who want to work. Republicans need to seize on this groundwork from this election, and do not allow the Democrats to claim that giving things away to people is the right way to go.
Why Republicans Won’t Learn
The two main reasons Republicans were able to break into Democratic strongholds will not be around much longer. Firstly, Donald Trump will be gone. I know that sounds intellectually backwards, but Donald Trump, the man, was the reason Republicans were able to eat into black support. For decades, rappers were comparing the good life to Donald Trump. Trump was the epitome of the vision of wealth in this country. He put his name on everything he owned, and his name was so synonymous with success that even after he sold properties, the new owners would keep his name on it. It’s no wonder Trump was able to get press time with some of the nation’s most prominent black entertainers like Kanye West and Lil Wayne. That visual means something, despite Republicans hating it. I doubt the next candidate will have that sway. I don’t see Nikki Haley, Ted Cruz, or Mike Pence posing with Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Republicans won’t understand that it isn’t only the message that is being given, but who is giving it. As awful as it is to think about, it will be very difficult to make such inroads when the name on the ticket isn’t also the name on buildings and television shows.
The second reason Republicans made inroads was the recent BLM and Antifa riots. As soon as Joe Biden is sworn in, the riots will die. Now, it is true that the riots existed while President Obama was in office, but they are so strongly connected with Trump that I doubt they will rise to the level of violence we’ve seen. That violence combined with the anti-police rhetoric that persisted into election season drove suburban America into the hands of the Republicans, and much like how the Democrats will lose their easy fallback of Trump, Republicans will lose their fallback of civil unrest.
The truth is, Americans are fickle. We really don’t like the way government is run, and we tend to blame whomever is in office. That’s why control over the presidency is so likely to swing back and forth. Not since George H.W. Bush in 1988 has an incumbent party won a presidential election after the president has termed out. People get sick of how things are run and want change, but they’re never satisfied with the change in the government - because it didn’t solve their problems.
Izzo Zwiren is the host of The Jewish Living Podcast, where he and his guests delve into any and all areas of Orthodox Judaism.