by Ryan McMaken of Mises Institute
Election Day 2020 finally arrived, and it looks like it’s going to be a long process before the official winner is finally determined. There will be lawsuits over which ballots will be counted. Both sides will be accused of fraud and of other misdeeds. In the real world, there is always a gray area as to which votes are legit, and which are not. Determining the winners in elections is not a simple matter of just counting every vote. Very close votes are effectively tie votes.
And when it comes down to it, the final outcome will depend on thin margins in several states, and there will be doubts about the honesty of the count in each case.
But no matter what happens, Congress will have to certify and make a final determination as to who received the win in the electoral college. It is quite possible that only then will there be a known and settled winner.
They Predicted a Blue Wave
Of course, none of this was supposed to happen. According to the pollsters, voters would vote in a “blue wave,” with Biden handily winning in countless battleground states, including Florida. In currently disputed states like Wisconsin and Michigan, many pollsters gave Biden an edge of 10 percent or more. The Washington Post/ANB poll in late October had Biden up by 17points. The same poll had Biden up by 7 points in both Michigan and Pennsylvania. Lindsay Graham was supposed to lose his seat in South Carolina.
In reality, Republicans look to maintain control of the Senate. The Republicans also picked up seats in the House of Representatives. From the Democratic Party’s perspective, they clearly “underperformed,” and Glenn Greenwald summed it up this morning, stating:
You have an incumbent President with a massive recession, an unemployment, rent and foreclosure crisis, and an out-of-control pandemic, and this is what the Democrats are able to do with it….Assuming that Biden ekes out a victory, that the Democrats managed to *lose* seats in the House with everything going on might be the most shocking and pathetic part of what happened.
But Democratic underperformance doesn’t mean Trump did well. He did manage to build on much of his 2016 support among women and nonwhites. He did worse with white men. Moreover, in some parts of the country, he did much better with Hispanics. Nor are we just talking about Cubans, who have long leaned Republican in many election years. As the Gravel Institute noted today: “Zapata County, Texas is the second most Hispanic county in America. In 2012, Obama won it by 43 points. In 2016, Hillary won it by 33 points. In 2020, Biden lost it by 5 points. What a disaster.”
It may very well be than many Americans don’t appreciate being shouted downs, ostracized, and condemned as inhuman Nazis for expressing any opinions deemed unacceptable by the New York-DC-Silicon Valley media elites. A 2020 vote for Trump likely struck many potential outcasts as one way to act defensively against their tormenters.
This all gives hints as to where electoral trends might be heading in the future.
The Ruling Party Has No Mandate
But for now, the fact remains that this election has produced a result where it is abundantly clear that half of the electorate voted to oust the other half. At least among those who vote, it’s pretty clear the United States is in the midst of a 51 to 49 percent split. And this isn’t just at the national level. A great many states are evenly split as well.
At this point it would be absurd for the winner to claim—as he is likely to do—that he will get down to doing “the people’s work” or that he wants to accomplish the mandate the voters gave him. What mandate? Even in a lopsided election, it’s never clear why the voters voted the way they did, and it’s impossible to therefore translate “the will of the voters” into policy.
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That’s all the more obvious now, given the clear half-and-half division that’s now in place. In other words, all the usual tired bromides about democratic elections should be more clear than ever. There is no ”will of the majority.” The winner doesn’t represent “the nation.” There is no consensus. We’re not coming together “as a people.” These tired slogans should now strike every intelligent person as nonsense uttered only by pundits and politicians desperate to claim some sort of legitimacy for a ruling cadre that has clearly been rejected by approximately half the country.
The Nation Continues to Creep Left
The bad news lies largely in what isn’t being discussed. The US’s unsustainable fiscal policy was never a significant election issue. There was no discussion over healthcare. That’s all just assumed now to be a matter for government regulation and control. In spite of what the anti-Trump commentators say, Donald Trump has never been “far right” or a candidate who pushes anything resembling laissez-faire. Rather, he is a centrist candidate who has pushed new gun controls, signed off on massive amounts of new fiscal spending and debt, and in the early days of the covid-19 panic actually empowered the most hysterical “experts” supporting nationwide lockdowns. Far from taking a principled decentralist or profreedom position, Trump did next to nothing to oppose what David Stockman calls “the overnight lurch into the inherently unconstitutional and destructive regime of economic martial law that enveloped the nation within days.” Trump’s inaction was mostly a deer-in-the-headlights reaction which had no grounding in any ideology—least of all a “right-wing” one— and also allowed the lockdowners to control the narrative for months.
Meanwhile, the Democrats ran on a solidly leftist platform pushing a Green New Deal, a “Great Reset,” and nationwide lockdowns, all while adopting and expanding Trump’s embrace of the bottomless abyss of government deficits.
An overwhelming Trump victory would have provided little more than a tap on the brakes against the current Biden proposals.
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But why should we expect anything other than a continued path down the road of center-left policy at varying speeds? Regardless of how the Democrats perform in 2020, the Left has a lock on the public schools, the universities, the news media, and social media. The fact that Trump supporters can be called “right wing” is an indication of how far the nation’s ideology has moved to the left in recent decades.
Until dissenters from the zeitgeist can assert far greater influence through cultural institutions, publications, research centers, and schools, the nation’s ideology will continue in the direction it’s already moving. National elections are now referenda on the current speed at which the nation moves in that direction. But the direction itself is not up for debate.Author:
Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado and was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.