This was always going to be a tense election cycle for Americans in every corner of the country, but although the election has been called, the results still lack clarity, or so would say many backers of the current President Trump. This political disaster of an election has chiselling away at the very foundations of democracy, and with countless legal challenges ahead, and still no concession, it will continue to do so at least for the next few months.
In complete acknowledgement of the special set of circumstances that must be considered in voting during a pandemic, including the importance of mail-in voting, election organizers across all levels of government, ballot counters, and any NGO participants should have created an environment where all ballots could and would be counted and finalized on election night. The simple fact is that this is just one of those cases where both the Trump and Biden camps are absolutely justified in their concerns with the democratic process of the election. It is crucial that all votes cast before polls closed are to be counted towards the final tally, but it is also important for all of these ballots to be ready to be counted and finalized on election night. Further, such circumstances allowing for facilitated voter fraud and disenfranchisement must be acknowledged, considered, and acted on accordingly if required – not scoffed at and dismissed like it wouldn’t happen, because it would.
Putting the complications of this fraught election process aside, assuming that legal challenges will still result in Joe Biden winning the Presidency, it is not the next four years that will shape the America of the future, but rather the years following.
Assuming one has any real understanding of what goes on in the American political sphere, it is obvious that even aside from the Presidency of Donald Trump, the nation’s population, let alone their political parties, are massively strained. See, in most countries, society is divided across generally “conservative” and “liberal” lines – and that’s okay. Political differences, so long as lines of communication are relatively open, can be, and often are, highly productive for national growth and progress at large.
In the United States of America, social lines are not decided on generic “conservative” and “liberal” affiliations, but rather there are “democratic socialists”, “progressives”, “moderate democrats”, “fiscal conservatives”, “moderate conservatives”, “hardline conservatives”, “evangelicals”, all among many other highly partisan and un-unified factions across the two-party system. This disassociated nature of the American political sphere is most prevalent within the Democratic Party and among its voters, much less so within the Republican Party and its supports.
Recent years have seen the rise of a so-called progressivism or democratic socialism across the United States, driven by some factions within the Democratic Party, but largely fueled by frustration with President Trump and his policies. Progressive figureheads have risen to the heights of the political stage, like Bernie Sanders, placing second in the Democratic Presidential Primaries twice consecutively, as well as other relatively new names like Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, among others.
The rise of such radical-minded “democratic socialists” has caused significant problems for the American Democratic Party, traditionally a moderate voice in national politics. Although these young progressives have excelled at mobilizing votes, they have also had a hand in deterring many other voters from showing up to the polls, or deterred them from the party as a whole. The fact is that despite the rise of these progressives, the Democratic Party still largely remains a party of moderates, not radicals.
Despite undergoing a slight ideological transition over his years, Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer once described himself as an ‘angry centrist’, and even still to this day, he makes a point of working across ideological lines both within his Democratic caucus and with Senate Republicans. With significant moderate and even some conservative-leaning figures in Democratic caucuses in both the Senate and House, including on their respective leadership teams, it is clear that the progressive wing of the party is not in control just yet.
Considering that, the progressive presence in the Democratic Party cannot be overlooked. Just about every major candidate who ran in the Democratic Presidential Primaries this past year can be classified as a progressive, or at least leaning distinctly left. A statement was made by the electorate in choosing the only viable moderate candidate of them all, President-elect Joe Biden, even despite his age being a real concern.
These clear and growing tensions in the party spell four years of tumultuous internal struggles. Considering that Biden has already stated that he only plans to serve one term, without an obvious moderate candidate to take over in 2024, if Democrats cannot reorganize and unify themselves behind a single ideology and single leader before Biden’s four years are up, it is highly unlikely for Democrats to be back in the White House for another decade or so after that – if even that. Despite the fact that there is a whole slate of Democrats set to be vying for the top job in 2024, again, one would be hard-pressed to find one that could actually beat a unifying Republican who can take some credits for Trump-era success while boasting the sanity of a Ted Cruz, for example.
There’s no refuting the fact that Democrats are about to enter an internal civil war of sorts, pitting progressivism against the moderate reality that will keep the party relevant in a divided United States of America. It’s anyone’s guess which side will come out the predominant force after these four years, but by shear numbers and outreach, that’s looking to be the progressive wing. As good as that may sound to many young Americans who idolize figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and ‘The Squad” of Democratic Socialists, there is no doubt that it will sound horrific to the vast majority of Americans. Either progressivism will be taken out before it takes the party over, or the party will be taken out by Americans until it returns to reality.
Insofar as the Republican effort on the national stage, Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Ben Sasse, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, Governors Doug Ducey, Ron DeSantis, former Governor Nikki Haley, and Vice-President Mike Pence are all rumoured to have some Presidential ambitions, potentially prompting some of them to throw their hat in the ring for the 2024 nomination. All of these Republican figures can ride the party’s wave in the wake of the Trump era, while none of them seem to have the personality concerns that plagued President Trump over the course of his time in office. As it seems that the American electorate has largely shifted to favour a conservative viewpoint in the decisive policy areas of the economy, foreign policy, trade, and relations with the business community, whoever becomes the Republican nominee four years from now will likely not have too great a challenge of hauling in the 270 electoral college points needed.
The overall political landscape in the United States is clear – the Democratic Party is divided, more than ever before, and the Republican Party is rather united in comparison. If the Democrats are unable to put their internal issues to bed and reorganize before 2024, the Presidency and even Congress at large will be left vulnerable to Republicans for years, maybe decades to come. Even if states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Arizona swing left in 2020, the thin margin by which they are decided strongly indicates that under a new and bold face of the Republican Party, the country will be led by Republicans for the foreseeable future.