One could almost feel sorry for Joe Biden. He will be inaugurated as president on Jan.20, pending judicial challenges and certification of the election, with only about half the country behind him, and most of those because they hated the guy before him.
He'll take office with no mandate, having won what is likely to be the closest Electoral College victory in 20 years, no coattails, lots of baggage from his years as the most bureaucratic bureaucrat ever to become president and many voters questioning his mental acuity.
Biden will take office with a Senate that is likely to be in Republican hands, though barely, and a House that is likely to have a slight Democratic tilt.
No Congress since World War II has had such a close split with a Democratic president and House, and a Republican Senate. Indeed, we don't find a similar setup in more than a century.
Some have summarized the results thusly: Trump lost, but Trumpism won.
Democrats won't see it that way, but several have acknowledged that there is meaning to the fact the blue tsunami that so many predicted didn't happen.
"If we are classifying Tuesday as a success," said U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a freshman Democrat who narrowly held on to her Virginia seat, the party will get "torn apart in 2022."
"We've got to get back to the 'meat and potatoes' issues and the issues where we're taking care of their families, and we also need to stop acting like we're smarter than everybody else, because we're not," former Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said on MSNBC.
Trump lost his re-election bid for the same reasons we didn't support him as a nominee in 2016 and didn't endorse him in the general elections of 2016 and 2020, though we certainly supported many of his policies and Republicans in general.
The president, while standing against a biased media but for life of the unborn, for religious freedom and for American workers, could often be bombastic in nature, vicious in tongue and mean in spirit. We, like more than 70 million of his fellow countrymen who voted for him, could live with that if it improved the country. Many of the more than 75 million who voted for Biden could not.
Eight months ago, we felt Trump — having been exonerated in a trumped-up, two-plus year special counsel's investigation and a quickly whipped up impeachment trial — would breeze to re-election. Had there been no global coronavirus pandemic, we believe that would have happened.
But enough people believed the president could change the trajectory of a virus, could make it go away but wouldn't, and could order people to stay home out of safety but not have it affect their businesses or one penny of their paychecks.
It was magical thinking, but it was thinking many Americans indulged in while considering their vote for the nation's highest office.
Meanwhile, the two dozen Democrats — believing Trump vulnerable before the virus — were The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. They fell all over themselves to see who could move the furthest left and promise the most government largesse. Americans repeatedly said they weren't interested in the government financing such schemes, but Democrats weren't listening. Removing Trump from office was Job No. 1, and they would promise whatever it took to do that.
Biden, a Washington, D.C., fixture for 47 years and vice president under President Barack Obama, was kindly warned against joining the race by the former chief executive. And he was left for dead after the snows of New Hampshire, having whiffed badly on the first two primaries and been embarrassed by opponents in numerous debates.
But South Carolina Democrats, believing the formerly moderate senator (who already had moved well left) was a better alternative to those candidates who already had galloped to the left. He won in the Palmetto State and never looked back.
Biden, in remarks after news organizations projected him the winner Saturday, boasted he'd won "a clear victory" and a "convincing victory." That was hardly the truth with the close vote count in many states and numerous lawsuit hurdles still to clear.
But he also promised not to see red states and blue states but only the United States. He asked that voters "give each other a chance," "put away the harsh rhetoric," "stop treating our opponents as our enemies" and "cooperate with one another."
Just short of four years ago, Trump, in his inaugural address spoke similar words: "We are one nation — and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. When America is united, America is totally unstoppable."
Yet, half the country never gave him a chance. But now that half wants the same chance for Biden.
With that knowledge, we can say one thing for certain. The president-elect, just as his predecessor, deserves our prayers.
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