On CNN last night after they called the run-off Senate election for incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock, the commentators seemed giddy with relief. They liked Warnock, they disdained challenger Hershel Walker (“an insult to Black people” said the Black analysts, speaking of his selection as a candidate by GOP kingmakers).
The story line the commentators tried to push was that this election might be a turning point in at least three ways:
- It would start the process of weakening Trump’s control over the party–but only if senior elected officials started distancing themselves from him.
- The election mechanics were good. And, Walker’s post-election concession speech–which was, simply, a concession and not election denial–underlined the turn away from election denial outside of Arizona. So maybe that dragon is slain or at least mortally wounded.
- Warnock’s eloquent victory speech, full of non-partisan good feeling as these speeches traditionally were, signaled a possible new era of decreased political division.
CNN analysts’ bottom line: turning point.
Problem: most of it is bunk.
Even if Trump’s grip on elites were to slip, the issue is his grip on primary voters. That may slip too, but it’s too early to say that is happening. I think it will turn on how many court cases he loses, and most of the important ones, the criminal cases, have yet to be filed and thus cannot be seen as certain to materialize.
More ominously, key party leaders such as Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, see their lane as “more effective Trumpism without Trump”. That is, believe this Florida resident, quite a scary thing.
And one need only look at the machinations in the GOP House caucus, in which Speaker-in-waiting Kevin McCarthy is being humiliated by his right flank. When MTG is one of your main supporters, and that doesn’t tame the cavepersons, you have a problem.
It may be that the fever of election denialism has broken, at least for now. But that is not even our biggest problem.
Imagine, if you will, how you would go about choosing a candidate for high office who was not just obviously unfit, but graced with attributes designed to turn off the modern voter. What might you look for?
- ☑ Out-of-state residence.
- ☑ No relevant experience.
- ☑ No familiarity with issues.
- ☑ History of unsuccessful businesses.
- ☑ History of serious mental illness.
- ☑ History of falsifying his resume.
- ☑ History of domestic violence.
- ☑ Child who says he is dangerous and unfit.
- ☑ Ex-longtime girlfriend who says he is mentally ill and unfit.
- ☑ Secret children out of wedlock who he then abandoned.
- ☑ Frequent incoherence and confusion in interviews.
- ☑ Procured abortions for at least two other women. (Running as ‘pro-life’ candidate.)
Well, Herschel Walker checked all those boxes and more. And, here’s the thing, Walker still got more than 1.7 million votes – 48.6% of those cast. Imagine what a candidate with only half those liabilities might have done.
Last night’s vote in Georgia, while welcome, is not a sign of a turn in our politics. Tribalism and party are still king. This result for all it is very welcome is just a very temporary and limited reprieve from a still very potent and possible doom.