American Democracy Worked!

“I’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Telephone Directory than the Harvard faculty.” Near-immortal words from William F. Buckley Jr. Based on that criterion, we got it right on Nov. 3. In defiance of a tsunami of humping and hyperbole from the Great and Good, the blue wave did not materialize.

If he had managed to get his rhetoric and tweeting in tune with the public mood on the subject of COVID, Trump might even have been reelected and might even have run a dead heat in the popular vote. Think of Andy Cuomo, a COVID hero. He sounded serious. He had a good PowerPoint staffer. He wrote a book congratulating himself. He is about to get an International Emmy. The mortality rate in his state is running a close second to New Jersey. A triumph of rhetoric over reality.

Democracy is more than any elected official or even any branch of government. It is a structure of laws and institutions and customs that underpin the rule of law and reflect the consent of the governed. Donald J. Trump, whatever his flaws, was no threat to American democracy. He was hemmed in on all sides and stayed in bounds throughout his term. He did not violate any court orders. He struggled to get any legislation passed. Blue states discovered State’s Rights. Gavin Newsom devoted most of his inaugural address to assuring us that he would strive every day and in every way to oppose the President. His AG filed 53 lawsuits against the administration. He led a long parade of other Democratic AGs filing suits against administrative policies. From 2018 onward, House committees tormented administration officials on a daily basis (when they weren’t on vacation). In spite of the advantages bestowed by incumbency, Trump lost the election, fairly decisively. Democrats had an almost 2/1 money advantage. The voting public told us it didn’t want Trump, but it also didn’t want the Democrats to control the agenda for the next four years. The wisdom of the 2,000 prevailed.

American democracy is not the Weimar Republic of the 1930s. Trump is not Hitler. The lawsuits will play out and end in a whimper, because the level of fraud (which exists no matter the the proof by assertion to the contrary that the commentariat keeps repeating) is not significant enough to overcome Biden’s margin of victory. On January 20, 2021, Joe Biden will be sworn in as our next President. If Trump is still in the White House, he will be without Secret Service protection and Federal Marshalls will come by to evict him. American Democracy is alive and well.

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