How will politics change in 2021 with a more cutthroat GOP and a weakened Democratic Party?
The presidential election is over. But President Trump continues to “beat the dead horse” allegations that the election was stolen by the Democrats. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court tossed out Trump’s challenge to the Pennsylvania election results. Even with three Trump picks on the Court, the judges would not go against the lower court’s ruling. In that decision, Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results had no merit. Moving into 2021, how will politics change with a more cutthroat GOP and weakened Democratic Party?
Joe Biden emerged as the clear winner with over 306 electoral college votes. Yet, you’d never know it by listening to the Republicans. The latest NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist Poll reports that less than a quarter of Republicans believe Joe Biden won the election.
This means that Donald Trump is not going “easily into that good night.” He’s put on his boxing gloves and he’s knocking a whole right in the middle of the GOP. Girded by some 73 million votes, this isn’t your parents’ Republican Party anymore. It belongs, lock, stock, and barrel to Trump.
What of the Democrats and the future of this party? Admittedly, Democrats took a bruising during the election. Battered by accusations of being “leftist radicals” and “Socialists,” the House of Representatives shrunk by at least nine seats. Despite the election pummeling, the Democrats are still in control.
Still, Dems are griping among themselves. Some believe that Biden’s Cabinet picks aren’t diverse enough. Others think the Party isn’t progressive enough. Inauguration Day can’t come soon enough.
On the Republican side, Trump’s scorched earth approach to leaving office is taking its toll on even his supporters. There’s talk of a competing Trump rally on January 5 when Biden takes the oath of office. The scuttlebutt is that Trump will announce a new run for president in 2024.
But, here’s the problem. There are approximately 24 fellow Republicans who want to throw their own hats in the presidential ring. One of the candidates-to-be is Trump’s namesake, Donald, Jr. So, Trump, Sr. still wields enormous influence even as a one-term president going out the door.
Daniel Barker, an Arizona Court of Appeals judge told Politico that, “If people for the next two or three years view Trump as having 60 or 70 million votes, it’s going to be hard to say no to him.” This is especially distressing to Republican centrists like Senator Mitt Romney of Utah and Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan. Is there still room under the Big Tent for the likes of them?
The major griping in the Republican camp commenced when Trump lost the election. He has an ongoing campaign to coerce Republican governors and secretaries of state. The goal is to assemble state legislatures to nullify millions of votes. Then, Trump wants those legislatures to toss their electoral votes over to him. But, it’s a lost cause now that the safe harbor provision has cemented Biden’s win this week.
According to Rebecca Green, an election law professor at the William and Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia, “What federal law requires is that if a state has completed its post-election certification by Dec. 8, Congress is required to accept those results,” as reported to ABC News.
Unfortunately, Trump’s pressure campaign goes on. Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, a solid Trumpian Republican, has stood his ground against lethal Trump tweets. It’s been a relentless campaign hammering away at any goodwill Kemp enjoyed with the MAGA base in Georgia. This, despite every Trump challenge being thrown out of court in Nevada, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
In Trump’s mind, once you sign on, you should be ready to give your life or go to jail for the cause a la the Cosa Nostra. Unfortunately, Georgia’s Governor Kemp and his
Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, aren’t there yet.
Raffensperger put it simply after a third recount and the results were certified in Georgia. On Monday at a press conference in Atlanta, he said, “We have now counted legally cast ballots three times and the results remain unchanged.”
Still, Trump’s base isn’t having any of it. They’re threatening to withhold their precious votes in the critical January 5 Senate races. The MAGA base shouted down Ronna McDaniel, head of the Republican National Committee (RNC) during a rally in Valdosta, Georgia. The crowd wanted to know what she was going to do to help Trump overturn the election results.
The bottom line for the new Republican Party — where can centrists go to be safely heard? Will they all turn into Independents? It’s still to be seen.
The political road isn’t any easier for the Democratic Party. Tom Perez is said to be leaving his position as head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Unlike the RNC’s in-your-face McDaniel, Perez has been like the Invisible Man. Granted, he’s kept his head down and cleaned up the DNC’s debt, and performed other unexciting administrative tasks. But has it been at the expense of unifying the Democrats and dealing with the untrue Socialist, radical left labels thrown at the Party? And make no mistake, those labels may have cost more than a few of the House seats.
The trickiest of all the “leftist” slogans the Republicans have been slinging at the Dems is “Defund the Police.” This became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement after George Floyd’s death at the hands of police.
During the campaign and the debates, Joe Biden made it clear that he was not advocating to defund police departments. But it didn’t matter. Trump continued to rant and the phrase stuck. This might partly explain why so many Democrats lost ground in the House.
However, the Dems’ achilles heel may be that working class Americans of all races are slowly moving away from the Democratic Party. As David Leonhardt recently wrote in the New York Times, “Many working-class voters, across racial groups, are moderate to conservative on social issues: They are religious, favor well-funded police departments and support some restrictions on both abortion and immigration.”
The irony is that Democratic Party, which has always been the underdog, is now seen as elitist and out of touch. But change may be coming to the Democratic National Committee. There’s speculation that Jaime Harrison will take over from Tom Perez.
Harrison, as you may recall, mounted a significant challenge against Senator Lindsey Graham in South Carolina. Harrison lost — but not without raising googobs of money to the tune of $131 million. This is one of the main assets for any party leader. Plus, Harrison has a mighty supporter in Representative Jim Clyburn. Clyburn was the first legislative heavyweight to endorse Joe Biden’s candidacy.
As Biden continues his slow slog to Inauguration Day, the president-elect is leaning on his bonafides as good old “Scranton Joe.” Will it be enough to lure working-class Americans of all colors back to the Democrats’ Big Tent?
Although Biden’s work-in-progress Cabinet is looking more like America, will the group still come across as elitist Obama holdovers? One thing is for sure — it’s going to take both Republicans and Democrats working together to get through this mess of a pandemic. Once that’s under control, the economy can breathe. Then, we can get back to making money, traveling, and building relationships. Can both parties put the internal and external sniping aside to get the job done?
Thumbnail Credits – Clay Banks/Unsplash
I love telling, reading, and writing stories. I freelance as a writer, editor, and all-around trouble-maker. I live in Atlanta with my dogs, Jaco, and Trane.