Trumpism and Progressivism

The formal results of the U.S. presidential and congressional election have not been finalized, but the preliminary result is obvious. For Democrats, the victory tastes of disappointment, but for the Republicans, the defeat tastes of hope. The former went to the polls to the accompaniment of the bravura chords that sounded in experts’ reports, predicting Joe Biden and the Democratic Party would win by an overwhelming margin both in the presidential and congressional election. Republicans went to the polls preparing for the worst. The unwavering optimism of Donald Trump and his supporters’ many thousands of campaign rallies were clearly not enough to dispel the anticipation of defeat, especially against the backdrop of an economic recession and a new wave of coronavirus.

The Democratic Party’s disappointment with election results can even be seen in the pages of The New York Times. Both parties had hoped the election would provide a clear judgment on the country’s trajectory, the newspaper describes, but instead delivered “a split decision, ousting Trump but narrowing the Democratic majority in the House and perhaps preserving the Republican majority in the Senate.” Apparently, voters have not issued a mandate to the left or the right, but have only formulated a “muddled” plea to move away from Trump-style chaos, the newspaper concludes. The fact that neither Democrats nor Republicans have been given the mandate to govern is not disputed. However, the election was more than a referendum on the issuance of a mandate for the government — it was, figuratively speaking, a mandate to determine the future of the country.

For possibly the first time in decades, Democrats went to the polls with a clear appeal for a more just society. The unique wave of events leading up to the election seemed to be driving them to a victory. The COVID-19 pandemic, with hundreds of thousands of victims in the United States, has provided a strong argument for proponents of a new public health insurance system. The death of George Floyd, an African American, caused by police during his arrest, and mass protests interspersed with riots throughout the country gave rise to calls to eradicate so-called systemic racism, which, according to the Democrats’ claims, affects numerous public entities, particularly the police. Record unemployment higher than during the Great Depression following a forced suspension of economic activities in the country bolstered the Democratic Party’s traditional argument that the wealthy should contribute more in support of the poor by paying more taxes. Progressive candidate Bernie Sanders’ resounding success in the primary election promised Democrats the support of young people who, according to the party’s progressive wing, are quite sympathetic to the ideals of so-called “Democratic Socialism.”

It was the mandate to determine the future of the country that Democrats requested — and did not receive. Mark Penn, a contributor for a small polling group Harris Poll, who in the past played a prominent role in Bill and Hillary Clinton’s campaigns, cites interesting data obtained during exit polls in The Wall Street Journal.The main point being that America remains, so to speak, a conservative-centrist society. Only 24% of voters identify as liberals, whereas 38% of respondents say they are conservatives and another 38% moderate. Moreover, over the past six years, the liberal ranks have thinned out by 2%, while 3% of Americans have joined conservatives. Biden won the election thanks to moderate voters, 30% of whom supported the Democratic candidate primarily because of dissatisfaction with Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Penn writes. The Democrats, despite all expectations, lost several seats in the House of Representatives because voters associate them with unpopular ideas: reduced police funding, increased taxes, limitations on oil and gas production and open borders.

The idea of a ​​”leftist” American society was perhaps put to the test during this election in California, the stronghold of the Democratic Party, which, along with the election, held referendums on several issues. The party’s progressive wing has banked on repealing an amendment to the state’s constitution, adopted almost a quarter of a century ago, which prohibited the use of racial preferences in public institutions, including when applying for admission to study at a university. Vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris and the entire California Democratic political establishment came out in favor of repealing the amendment. The result: 56% of voters were in favor of keeping the amendment. Californians have also rejected an attempt to remove restrictions in the constitution for increasing taxes on commercial real estate. Supporters of the amendment proposed using this income to finance social programs. In other words, the relatively modest in its goals progressive experiment in building a just society in California, to which the party establishment subscribed, was rejected.

The most important result of the election will likely be the exposure of the myth of a hopeless split in American society. It appears that the overwhelming majority of Americans seem to reject radical change and cling to centrist or conservative views. As one commentator once noted, American society is not split, the political class is split. And this class is fighting its own battles, fueled by the equally split press, which has developed, especially in the last four years, a taste for fighting with no holds barred.

Biden’s official recognition as the presidential election’s official winner, which looks imminent, will present him with a difficult choice. His supporters from the left wing of the party are already pulling him in different directions. George Floyd’s uncle, Justin Blake, in an appeal issued by Britain’s The Guardian, has reminded Biden that since Black Lives Matter activists helped him win the election, he is obligated to pay back the favor, while recognizing that poverty and racism are a public health crisis. Democratic activists also expect him to fulfill his promises to turn America into a country with a “green economy” and partly public health care system. For now, he only speaks of his intention to unite the country.

The cost of making the wrong choice could be extremely high for the Democratic Party. If Biden misses the mark in selecting his priorities, Democrats could lose not only the center and right wing of American society, but also the working class. Trump will leave, but Trumpism, as even his opponents recognize, is here to stay. For Trump supporters, this isn’t a bad thing. Over the past four years, the Republican Party, under Trump’s leadership, has increasingly looked like the party of the working class, which advocates for the development of domestic production, delivers real income growth for Americans for the first time in a decade and rejects unlimited economic globalism. These people will almost certainly prefer “Trumpism” over “Progressivism.”

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