November 8, 2022 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
Gird your loins, friend, for today is Election Day
Prepare to endure reasonsreasonsreasons.
I don’t want to hear it, frankly.
The only thing people needed to know before voting is democratic and deeply moral, to wit: The very worst Democrat is better than the very best Republican.
Everyone should have voted accordingly.
Everyone will not have voted accordingly.
Instead of accepting moral responsibility for choosing, most of us will find reasonsreasonsreasons for why we had to choose against choosing. We will wrap our decisions in myth, fairy tale and lies, as if to say to ourselves that we had to vote one way or the other.
No, you didn’t.
You made a choice.
You could have voted for a Democrat if you wanted federal and state governments that are accountable to the people as well as the common good; if you wanted a Congress prepared to devise policy solutions to policy problems affecting everyone; if you wanted a government that maximizes opportunity while minimizing suffering.
You could have voted for a Republican if you wanted to hurt people who you believe deserve hurt; if you wanted to defend and protect the political advantages of white power against the political threats of liberal democracy; and if you didn’t want to put in the effort of competing with nonwhite people who are putting in twice the effort.
You made a choice.
Individuals are responsible for their choices. Everyone is responsible for everyone’s choices, matter of fact. This is a democracy, after all.
No one likes hearing that.
So we come up with reasonsreasonsreasons.
There’s no such thing.
“Election night” is a fabrication of a press corps for the convenience of a press corps whose chief objective is seizing our attention spans.
Fact is, the results of today’s election will not be fully known until all the votes have been counted. Counting all the votes can take days.
This is important in two ways.
One is that Democratic votes take longer to count than Republican votes. There’s more of them. (This midterm might break the pattern of Republicans voting early and Democrats voting on Election Day.) There will be moments when the Republicans seem to be winning.
This so-called “red mirage” is the second reason why it’s important to understand that “election night” is a creation of the press corps.
The Republicans, egged on by the former president, will exploit “election night”’s “red mirage” to argue that votes counted after “election night” are invalid. These claims will be the basis for additional claims of the Democrats cheating. For some, the fact that Democratic votes keep coming in will prove the GOP’s fraud claims.
All of that is obviated when we drop the fiction of “election night.” All of that is obviated when we bear in mind that people are counting the votes, which is to say, human beings functioning within a discrete period of time according to discrete levels of focus and energy. God does not tell us who the winners and losers are. Humans do.
So, in the absence of deus ex machina, let’s remember that counting votes takes time. Let’s remember as well that knowing election outcomes within a single night is as new as the technology that the press corps has used to determine winners within a single night.
Taking the time to count the vote is the rule, not the exception. The exception, historically, is knowing results on “election night.”
Organized (white) paramilitaries will intimidate voters waiting in line to vote. So-called “election police” will harass voters waiting in line to vote. Whack jobs across the nation will shoot up churches and schools, because Democratic voters waited in line to vote.
The recent attempted assassination of the speaker of the House was not an exception to the rule. It proved it – wherever there are democratic people willing to use democratic institutions to achieve democratic outcomes, there will be political violence in reaction.
Democratic politics is normal in a democratic republic. Therefore political violence in reaction to democratic politics is normal. It’s always already present, so the question is not whether there will be political violence, but to what degree will there be political violence.
And how much are we willing to tolerate?
I have argued that the outcome of 2022 might resemble the outcome of 1982. Both midterms featured inflation. Both featured high interest rates (though they were much, much higher in 1982). If historical patterns hold, 2022 might, as 1982 did, result in no change. The party that controlled the Congress will continue to control the Congress.
More importantly, though, both midterms signaled regime change.
1982 was probably the end of the New Deal/Fair Deal/Great Society regime and the start of a so-called “neoliberal regime.” Low taxes, low regulation, market capitalism – these were hallmarks of Ronald Reagan’s revolution against the old postwar liberal consensus. Bill Clinton consolidated it. Other presidents maintained it.
Regimes turn amid crisis, though. Our crisis is almost certainly the covid pandemic. Everything we thought was right – ie, neoliberalism – was wrong after the coronavirus reordered political foundations. Now even the Republicans support the “government intervention” of the economy. They had to. On that foundation Joe Biden and the Democrats rested the most aggressive “intervention” of my lifetime.
I hope the Democrats prevail. I hope 2022 is like 1982. But even if they lose, the tide has turned. There’s no going back. The stage is set for the Democrats to dominate this new era of political time.
Democrats, especially white Democrats, have a hard time accepting that lots of Americans hate democracy. That can’t be right, they say, because America is based on democratic values, freedom, etc. etc.
I don’t know why these people don’t trust their eyes. It could be the middle-class habit of insisting that aspirational values are the only values, thus permitting themselves to deny political reality.
Whatever the reason, we need clarity. America is not one country. Democracy is not national. Division is baked in. Conflict is inevitable. Somebody is going to lose. We’re really not all in this together. Progress does not happen on its own. We’re all responsible for it.
So, if the Republicans win the House, they will have done so with the blessing of Americans who’d rather trade in democracy for protection of a white-power syndicate that has served them well.
To that end, the Republicans, if they take the House, will almost certainly – well, let’s say certainly – impeach Joe Biden. They might even impeach him twice, thus draining the process of its solemnity and cheapening the twin impeachments of the former president.
The indictment will not be factual. It will be based on lies that have become “true” with repetition. The indictment will not prevail in the Senate. (Conviction requires two-thirds of senators.) But it will suck all the air out of the public square, as the Republicans’ interest aligns with the press corps’ interest in seizing our attention spans.
All the Republicans need is reasonsreasonsreasons.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.