No Matter Who Won, the Fight Isn't Over

This election has been a mixed bag, and we hope politicians and citizens alike are learning the right lessons.
November 9, 2020, 2:00pm
Screenshot from the movie "The Candidate," Bill McKay (played by a strawberry blond Robert Redford, wearing a dark blue suit) sits on the edge of a bed in a hotel room and asks his off-screen political advisor "what do we do next?"
Image courtesy of Warner Bros.

It’s been a long and tumultuous election season. Alongside dealing with the endless lies of an administration during a global pandemic, we’ve also had to wrestle with the state of politics that at times seems doomed to repeat the mistakes that got the US into such a precarious position in the first place. This week on Waypoint Radio, the crew finally talks out their feelings on the election and how no matter who wins, the fight for progressive politics is never over. We also get our final impressions of the Xbox Series X and Playstation 5 before launch! You can listen to the full episode and read an excerpt below.

Patrick: It's where a wins feels like a loss, and I don't know what the path forward is from there. It's like you throw out Pelosi, you throw out Schumer, AOC in 2024 is not a magic fucking bullet. And it's where I come back in the same way I did in 2016 where I try and remind myself, it's  it's what Gita is saying, is like, look at what's in your control, like understand that there are structural long-term forces that you can only influence on the margins as like one person. What can you do for your community and what's around you to feel good about yourself and what you can improve? Because the other stuff is just like, you just want to flush half the country down the fucking drain.

Rob: I think that sentiment I sympathize with it, but I do think like therein lie some of the seeds of the problems facing democratic politics . I think, for me, there is no sugarcoating this, this election was basically a disaster.  You could not have asked for what seemed like they should have been more favorable conditions than the Democrats had. Trump  demonstrably fucked up a pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people are dead already, many more are dealing with ongoing effects from COVID-19 and that number is going to swell considerably over the coming months. And that's the say nothing of all the people who've  lost work,  lost housing, lost security during all of this.

Austin: And those are not contentious issues in terms of, I mean, COVID has been made contentious through ongoing propaganda from the Republican party. But in terms of,  you know, you look at something like what Claire McCaskill has come out and said some like vaguely transphobic shit in saying that like, "Hey, the party shouldn't have been focusing on trans rights issues. It shouldn't have been work focusing on race and identity and blah, blah, blah. This is how we lose dah, dah, dah. This stuff you just said is not even in that category of like contemporary  woke, identity politics stuff that is based shit that is like dead people and lost jobs, simple stuff.

Rob: Right. And I think the, really the thing that's the real wake up call here is, yeah, we didn't get the rejection of Trump and Trumpism that we want to, but we did get what looks like it's going to be a rejection of Trump, a milder one than we wanted, but the thing is people came back to the GOP and rejected Democrats. GOP candidates outperformed Donald Trump, so the entire theory where they would go down with his ship completely exploded.  The notion that high turnout automatically and forever favors Democrats also appears to be pretty well out the window.

Patrick: And what's the phrase, demographics is destiny, which also seems to have been completely blown up . This idea that it'll just be like an emerging permanent democratic majority due to demographics.


Gita: is so interesting is that this election in particular seems to have killed polling. Polling's over now, we can't trust polls. It's just done. 

Austin: Give it a year . Listen, we're going to say this like as hard as we can, and then in, you know, in the lead up to the midterms, we will all be looking at polls again.

Patrick: This was the a cycle of don't trust the polls, right? Using big lead polls as a reason to drive Democratic turnout was  a huge part of the last 18 months.

Austin: There will be a new poll product that someone will develop and say fixes the problems with the polls from this cycle, or addresses them, or it comes with extra caveats, or we dig deeper, or we go broader. I never trust the system to give up on that scam.

Gita: Fivey the Fox is going to make a comeback is what you're saying.

Austin: Fivey the Fox will be back motherfucker. That motherfucker is not going anywhere.

Rob: But I think beyond that, it's yeah, there's the "don't trust the polls" in terms of our relationship with them as consumers of media, as people who follow politics, but whatever the internal polling guiding decision-making during a lot of these campaigns was, it also appears to have crashed on the runway.

And I think the thing that I really want to drive home here is that this was a really important election to win , and defeating Trump was never enough. This is something we were saying for a long time and certainly in the lead up to this election as the ramifications of the GOP stacking of the judiciary became clear, this was one you needed to succeed down-ballot. You needed something of a wave election, and this one appeared to be within reach. You can already see the goalposts moving from the centrist wing of the party, because you can't run these experiments twice and like propose the counterfactual.

I don't know if Bernie would have won or lost. I do know that with this incarnation of the democratic party we did lose. We had an enormously weak incumbent and a party that was absolutely implicated in that incompetence, and except for the top of the ticket, the Democrats were smoked pretty thoroughly and saw groups they take for granted begin to break away.

This transcript was edited for length and clarity.

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