What’s Next?

In a recent New York Times op-ed, Thomas Edsall asks a question that is rapidly becoming more pressing: what happens after the election?

It’s a question we really can’t answer until we know not just who has won the Presidency, but how the transition has been handled and–far more important–who will control the Senate.

Although “what now?” depends upon currently unknown election returns, we can–actually, we should–consider a variation of that question. What ought to happen next?

My own concerns revolve around the inevitable splintering of the Democratic Party into its factions. One of the problems with single-party dominance (or in this case, single-party sanity) is that reasonable people holding very different views all end up in the non-crazy party. Democrats have never been ideologically monolithic; these days, thoughtful conservatives, liberals and leftist activists are all Democrats because their only other options are to join a cult (the contemporary GOP) or vote for a third-party candidate (essentially flushing their votes).

My most fervent hope–assuming Democratic control of the Senate as well as the House and the White House–is that leadership will immediately move to implement policies on which there is broad consensus: rolling back the roll-backs of environmental protections; passing H.B. One–the broad reform of electoral rules that passed the House by a massive margin and languished (along with everything else Mitch McConnell touched) in the Senate; ending tax policies that soak the middle class while allowing the rich to evade paying their share; re-instating DACA and instituting humane immigration policies.

There are others, and they should all be introduced and passed as expeditiously as possible.

Noted political scientist Theda Skocpol believes the Democrats will hang together; she tells Edsall that, in the event of a Democratic Senate majority, especially with a cushion of 2 or 3 votes, she

does not foresee any acute internal conflicts, because there will be so much to do in a pandemic and economic crisis,” adding, “I think joint approaches will not be hard to work out: voting reforms, expansion of Obamacare with a strong public option, college costs help for lower income and lower middle class, robust green jobs investments, etc., etc.

I hope she’s right.

Other measures that ought to be taken–preferably, within the first hundred days–include eliminating the filibuster and expanding the number of federal judges. If–as is likely–Judge Barrett has been confirmed in a departing f**k you by McConnell, the number of Justices on the Supreme Court should also be expanded. (Actually, according to the Judicial Conference, that should be done even if, by  some intervening miracle, her nomination fails). But what should be done and what will occur are two different things, and opinions on both the filibuster and the approach to the courts divide the party’s moderates and progressives.

“What’s next” is, of course, a broader question than “what policies should Democrats pursue?” Edsall’s column is concerned less with policy and more with politics. He quotes a political scientist for the rather obvious observation that it’s easier to unite against something than for something, a truism that doesn’t bode well for continued Democratic unity. He also tackles the less obvious–and far more important–question “what happens to Trumpism” if, as seems likely, Trump loses?

Rogers Smith–another noted political scientist–thinks that a loss for Trump won’t defeat Trumpism.

Trump has built a new right populist coalition that has more electoral appeal than the full-tilt neoliberal, moderately multicultural economic and social positions of the prior Republican establishment. It has plenty of reasonably charismatic youthful champions. Its leaders will avoid the crude bullying and rule-flouting that Trump displayed in the recent presidential debate, and they’ll certainly try to avoid Access Hollywood-type scandals. But otherwise they will carry the Trump right-populist movement forward.

The “Trump movement” is essentially racist, theocratic and misogynistic. So long as it remains a viable, non-fringe element of American political life, the “American experiment” is at risk.

Whatever is “next,” we probably aren’t yet out of the woods.


  1. I fear that “what’s next” will include militia violence ala Michigan. I have seen a disturbing number of posts by Trump supporters that suggest that there will be a civil war if Democrats “steal” the election from Trump. Our city leaders and state houses across America need to be ready. We could see activity in the streets far worse than what occurred in the wake of the George Floyd murder. I hope I am wrong.

  2. The potential of “domestic terrorism” (that’s exactly what it is so let’s not mince words) by Trump cultists is a frightening thought, but moreover, the continued endorsement of Trump by state politicians is extremely disturbing. When Trump steadfastly refused to condemn extremist groups in his base such as “Proud Boys” during the debate, Hoosier Republican politicians didn’t seem too frazzled when we questioned them about how they could STILL tie themselves to Trump’s coat tail and endorse him. One Republican state politician’s office actually HUNG UP on me! The very idea that these politicians smile on their TV commercials and blatantly lie about how they help the average Hoosier, while they steadfastly endorse the most divisive, racist, and bigoted president in American history speaks volumes about the integrity of these candidates. Hoosier Republican politicians are like radical vegetarians who proselytize for others to share their lifestyle while at the same time owning cattle ranches, pork & chicken farms, and stock in high-volume meat production plants. In other words…….HYPOCRITES. (No offense intended towards REAL vegetarians by comparing them to Trumpanzee politicians) as my statement certainly doesn’t imply anything wrong with being vegetarian, but PLENTY wrong with being a hypocrite.

  3. Make no mistake. Unless he goes to prison, Trump will not go quietly into the night. He’ll continue to stoke the animosities he relied upon to win in 2016 and will probably end up on Fox or OAN to amplify his Twitter feed. Him losing the presidency does not mean the US loses Trump. He’ll simply occupy a different physical place poking the same psychological animus of his base. We can only hope state and federal prosecutors unleash a full and comprehensive review of him, his businesses, and the role his enablers have played in this tragedy.

  4. 1. Getting a lot attention on Twitter is the far left’s call for Pelosi to set her massive ego aside and get the next round of stimulus relief signed. I found that refreshing and encouraging.
    2. I thought Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse did a remarkable job yesterday making the case and laying the groundwork to add 4 justices to the SCOTUS. A shot heard loud and clear by Justice John Robert’s, who had a bullseye between his eyes.
    3. Structural reform is never easy, but it’s the only path Dems have to retain power long enough to reverse the damage of not only 4 years of Trump, but 40 years of Reaganomic policies.

  5. After watching some of the hearing yesterday and seeing a sitting Federal judge, who apparently doesn’t know that the Constitution explicitly gives the power to set the date of the election to the legislative branch or that voter intimidation is a Federal crime, we can safely assume that the tRumpists most fervent desires will be blessed from on high by SCOTUS for the foreseeable future. Look for every significant bill to be challenged and found unconstitutional.

  6. Trump’s base will be there even if he’s in federal prison. We’ve always had fear-driven people because our immoral leaders have used them instead of calling out their fears and showing them the light. MLK, Jr. was heading that direction after he gained equal rights for his black brothers and sisters. He started talking about war and the economy and those who are “comfortable” in the middle. That’s when our government had to cancel his movement.

    The same thing with the Kennedy’s.

    Once again, the problem with an Oligarchy is its oppressive nature. The Oligarchs want all the power and retain all the money. If our press were actually free, we’d all have a steady dose of Julian Assange’s extradition case 24/7. We’d know who is doing what and why. We’d know the largest donor behind the GOP, and Trump was behind the spying in an embassy on Assange.

    Our media (f/k/a the press) is 100% propaganda. It is public relations for the Oligarchy. They are in control of our bullhorns.

    If the press told the American people the truth about Sheldon Adelson and how the USA took down an Ecuadorian government to install a banana republic who would spy on Assange while in their U.K. embassy, the people would be aghast.

    Who do you think gave Trump’s taxes to the New York Times? 😉

    Instead, the media is used to divide and conquer. As Sheila mentions above, when presented with an honest program that benefits them, the people will rally behind it. We seldom get that in an Oligarchy because what is given to the people is taken away from those in power.

    You think healthcare is a right, and all Americans should have access to the same healthcare as our POTUS. Fine, it’s simple to do, but taking away the healthcare system from profiteers (Oligarchs) is the problem.

    Think of the USA as a corporation, because it is a corporation residing in the District of Columbia.

  7. This ASSUMES that one MUST be “enrolled” in a Party in order to be a Voter…No? — “reasonable people…all end up in the…party” [I trust that I’ve left out only non-essential verbiage to get at the core semantic content]

    I assure you that that is NOT the case… As an Adult (61 years now…) I’ve always voted, but as a Registered, non-enrolled Voter… It IS a possibility… And I have voted for folks in BOTH the major parties…picking and choosing the better option as my conscience dictated…

  8. There are lots and lots of things to be concerned about in the “What’s Next” column. Here’s one of mine:
    Voters are, often, determined to keep our government split, awarding one of the top-tier offices [the presidency] to one party and awarding at least one of the two houses of Congress to the other. It’s such a long-standing trend that it has become virtually a tradition.

    It’s not unlikely that Democrats will sweep all three elective branches at the top this year. So what happens two and four years from now?
    We MUST keep Republicans out of high federal and state offices for more than one election cycle in order to convince them that their underhanded tactics have been noticed and we won’t tolerate them. I fear we may not do that.

    The crisis will [hopefully] be over. So will the people show up in the numbers they’re turning out in this year? I believe that’s unlikely. Those who WILL turn out will be those with grudges — the people who feel their voices weren’t heard or heeded this year. And those who are in full-on panic now will have conveniently forgotten just what it was that Republicans [other than Trump] are doing now to subvert our democracy —- so they may revert to sleep-walking and allow the R’s back into office.

    And then there’s the nightmare scenario:
    For the foreseeable future, it is possible that the US could become, essentially, a one-sane-party system with the nominal “other party” simply a bunch of fringe hangers-on.

    In that event, Republicans who have deserted their party will not return to it in the near future. If, as Sheila noted, the R’s remain enamored of Trumpism, the deserters are likely to stick with the Democrats [where else are they going to go in a two-party system?]
    So then what?
    Will they be content to stay silent while Democrats continue with their [not liberal — but certainly more liberal than Republicans have traditionally followed] policies? No. Bank on it. They will work to shift the Democratic party further and further toward the right.

    What that will mean for the party and the country as time goes on, I have no idea — but I do have my fears.

  9. @ Jeffrey Nelson:
    It’s not cut-and-dried. It depends on where you live and how much say you want to have.

    I remained an unaffiliated voter for years and years —– right up till I moved from an open-primary state [Missouri] to a closed-primary state [Florida.]
    Now, if I want to have a say in which people the party I identify with puts up for election, I am forced to register with that party.

  10. We are the party of the Big Tent with many disparate parts but we will come together after Biden is elected and both houses of Congress are in our hands. There will be the usual brawl after we win over claims to the philosophical spoils but not enough to bring us political chasm and the reason why is that we will still be friendly amongst ourselves due to our narrow escape from the loss of our democracy – and with the enormous damage to our economy we have to repair, reinstitution of our place in the world (WHO, Paris Accord, Iran atomic agreement) etc.

    As to the concern for violence, civil war etc., I think that is overblown and that would be kidnappers saw what happened in Michigan when domestic terrorists run up against the FBI. I expect there to be some isolated acts of attempted intimidation at the polls but not nearly as much as many are forecasting since, after all, such acts are federal felonies and are punished accordingly. Matter of fact, I think we are in general giving Trump too much credit for upsetting the apple cart of regularity in matters electoral. In view of the law and the polls, he is the one who should be scared of November 3’s outcome, not us.

    Trumpism will survive Trump, to be sure, but the only difference between pre-Trump and today is that Trumpism was always “out there” but is now unmasked. Ending Trumpism or any cultic behavior and a return to democratic idealism will require their long term civic education and political patience by the rest of us.

    Our task? Ignore the scare talk. Win this election, and go from there. That’s what’s next.

  11. One thing that is important is the nature of the transition. In 2016, the Obama agencies were ready to brief Trump’s transition team about what was in the pipeline, but for the most part, the Trump people did not even show up. One exception was Mryon Ebel, (sp?), from the Koch brothers Heartland Institute. He was in charge of stuffing EPA with industry hacks. Most of the other agencies were just ignored. So the Trump people who took charge officially on Jan 20, just showed up and floundered, and continued for four years, which was what they were supposed to do. Hopefully, Biden’s people will be more responsible.

  12. I keep wondering how many of those staunch Republicans out there who want to maintain their party affiliation, but are totally against Trump, realize they are not required to vote for any presidential candidate. Voting for those they want to keep in office includes NOT voting for a candidate is an option that many do not seem to understand. They fill in the straight party oval when they could vote for individuals.

    “What’s Next?” I am also wondering what is left to work with even for Trump if he is elected or again appointed to the presidency by the Electoral College. He has spent almost four years destroying his own job.

  13. It’s an interesting question. One tough call for Biden and the DNC right now is how much time and thought to give now to after the election that assume a particular result and how much time to invest in actually creating that result in a national atmosphere stirred up by absolutely desperate Republicans, both voters and politicians.

    I suspect that the gulf between liberals and left wing extremists is smaller than the gulf between the whole left wing, finally “woke”, and the right wing, primarily because the right wing has become so clustered at the extreme end of that spectrum. Some of the emotion that fuels the left wing gulf is petulance over the primary process and frustration among some that their person lost an election. Understandable. One of the things that Biden/Harris have to find that Republicans have already figured out is to find a common denominator among their entire wing and play that tune louder than the rest. Trump personified the right wing tune, he actually was incapable of being anything but. Biden/Harris have to learn it.

    There’s never enough time or enough resources or enough will to get everything done especially when it’s an emergency and time is of the essence. That’s why we pay politicians the big buck though. We need to expect a lot from them and keep the pressure on them to perform.

  14. If one would look into history, you could read about the French Declaration Of The Rights Of Man! Basically that every human right afforded one would be afforded to all!

    But, who was the biggest opposer to these basic Rights Of Man or, Human Rights? The Church, particularly Pope Pius VI.

    After the church, the revolutionaries, those of particularly religious affiliations also denounced the declaration!

    We should be very well aware of this history because there is a similar tack being followed in the United States right now. Nothing short of a religious fascism to eliminate basic rights from civil society.

    We know how much blood has been shed, it’s already happened! All you have to do is pick up a history book. When it’s all said and done, you have individuals who want their Basic Human Rights, but they don’t want to afford their fellow citizens the same rights!

    Yesterday Sheila said that religion was Sophist, and she was correct! Because religion before Christianity was used as a rallying cry to drive people towards fanatical brutality. Somehow they would be glorified, they were patriots of their king, they would be glorified in another realm for an eternity. This philosophical dogma has infiltrated Christianity and other religions that are more current than the ancient ones of Greece and the beginning of the Roman Empire. It goes back to Babylon and Mesopotamia.

    So those philosophical beliefs have infiltrated the original teachings, and the same method is used, deny your fellow man their basic rights while you, the chosen ones, can live a glorified life and be rewarded with eternal paradise.

    Unfortunately, this is so completely untrue, but men have always corrupted anything good!

  15. “What’s next” (assuming, happily, at least a Biden win) to be REALLY worried about is what Trump, Inc. will do between the official declaration of results and the inauguration. Have not seen much written about that. We’d best have some good minds imagining the worst and what could be done without a DEM senate/supreme court….

  16. In order for his blood to remain oxygenated, Trump requires two things – and he requires them constantly. First he needs money, simply because that imperative was planted in his brain and his blood stream by the initial dictator he admired, Fred Trump. Second he needs adoration, though he has never had any. He constantly tells us that no one likes him, and he is right, but he survives by thinking that someday it will happen.

    What career options might fulfill these overwhelming needs? First, As Russia’s chief lobbyist he would be well paid and able to attract streams of media coverage. When affection is unavailable, he appears able to thrive in hatred in all its forms as long as someone is looking at him. Another possibility is his acting as Fox’s version of Rachel Madow. He would then be on stage whenever he wishes, be the object of something resembling love from his bumpkin cult members, and have earning potential on the scale of Rush Limberger. His goombah in SCOTUS, Amy Covid Barrett, will keep him out of jail, and Melania will help keep him busy by negotiating an unprecedented divorce settlement. Ivanka is likely to embarrass him by revealing some undisclosed secrets on Donald’s approach to parental affection.

    If neither position opens up, he will find happiness by irritating everybody with his unmatched skill at indulging his neuroses in public. He may attempt to work as a golf pro, but in a surprise move Dustin Johnson will mistake his head for an orange Titleist and drive it into a water hazard.

    But in all honesty, the only thing we can be sure of is that he will find endless new ways to drive us all crazier than we already are. In 2024 he will be the same age as Biden is now, so look for him to reprise his role as the comeback kid.

  17. Peggy:
    Amy Coney Barrett knows full well what the answers to those questions are. She just lied and refused to answer them. For some time now, the Senate Hearings on confirming a Supreme Court nominee have been political a charade and theater — fostered by both parties. The nominees are prepped and instructed not to answer any substantive question about any possible issue that might come before SCOTUS, even if they aren’t being asked how they’d decide that issue. “Why Gosh! I’ve never thought about that! I will have to wait until my law clerk tells me how I should decide.”

    Although ACB has taken it a step further by even refusing to acknowledge she knows anything about basic provisions of the Constitution. The sad part is she will be confirmed regardless.

  18. I just watched Sen. Whitehouse’s opening remarks on the hearing for Amy Barrett. He makes it obvious that dark money has funded the federalist society’s agenda to move the SCOTUS to the right so they can reverse Roe V Wade, gay marriage, and the ACA.

    We lost our democracy in the Citizens United decision and became a plutocracy.

    I would like to see an end to dark money in politics. As I said previously, I would support Biden’s decision to increase the # of Supreme Court justices if he choses to do so. The court NEEDS to be nonpartisan.

  19. After Obama won in 2008 and the House had 257 Democrats compared to 178 Republicans, the Senate had 57 Democrats vs 41 Republicans and 2 Independents. The Democrats claimed 29 Governor chairs. This was a massive shift in House and Senate.

    There was some brief discussion among the “pundits” of how the GOP needed to reach out and expand their base to the center. Well they expanded their base – It went further to the Reactionary side and it worked.

    Depending upon how bad the Trumpet and the GOP is trounced will determine the reaction. The Trumpet will turn to his reliable lap dog his AG to bring a plethora of lawsuits – this is what The Trumpet has always done.

    The Rabid and armed Reactionary Right Wing will strut decked out in Camouflage gear. Even the dim light bulbs or fanatics in these groups will need to consider how badly compromised the “brotherhood” is by infiltrators and informants.

    I would agree with Terry above the unemployed Trumpet would try to cut a deal with the FOX Network. Trouble is The Trumpet cannot maintain a coherent thought, let alone verbalize it. FOX could look at the Trumpet though and realize his shelf life to attract viewers has expired.

  20. If the federal judiciary and the Supreme Court expanded to get the votes to offset the conservative majority, you can bet Republicans will do the same thing when they get back in power. Pretty soon we’ll have hundreds of judges on the U.S. Supreme Court. There are better plans out there than court-packing. I like the idea of the 18 year term limit, with a justice appointed every 2 years. I have never liked life terms for federal judges and especially Supreme Court judges.

    Not sure I get the interest in throwing out the filibuster rule. The requirement for 60 votes to pass legislation in the Senate has stopped Trump from getting his most radical ideas through Congress. The filibuster required him to get Democratic support, effectively giving the Democrats a veto. What happens when the Democrats scrap the filibuster rule, then they are out of power again? The filibuster rule requires Democrats and Republicans to work together. We need a lot more of that, not less.

  21. And, no, I don’t buy the argument that the Republicans have already packed the court. They simply filed positions which came open. The Democrats wouldn’t have done exacctly the same thing if given the chance. It’s when you change the rules to create more vacancies, that is when there is a problem.

    That doesn’t mean I absolve the GOP of their hypocrisy regarding Merrick Garland. I’m not sure why they just didn’t give him a hearing and vote him down.

  22. “That doesn’t mean I absolve the GOP of their hypocrisy regarding Merrick Garland. I’m not sure why they just didn’t give him a hearing and vote him down.”

    Paul K. Ogden; how open minded of you not to absolve the GOP of denying Merrick Garland the Senate hearing required by the Constitution. If you aren’t sure why they didn’t give him a hearing; start watching something other than Fox & Friends. Your Republicanism is showing. Hopefully you have also not absolved McConnell and the other Republican Senators for not holding hearings on other Obama judicial nominees (which he has filled since Trump took office) and a few hundred Democratic bills bill still sitting on his desk which he is also REFUSING to hear.

  23. PKO, at 1:39pm, “They simply filled positions as they came open”, you might check how many positions came open during Obamas’ terms, which McConnell would allow to be filled, and Not just the Supreme Court! And McConnell has been doing almost nothing but packing lower court judges into office since tRump took over, and there are Still many many vacancies left to fill!

  24. I wonder if even the Fox Network would actually cut a deal with Trump, ie., pay him to allow
    him to spout his usual fanatical bs while the New York AG is prosecuting, and hopefully sentencing him, for fraud by improperly inflating the value of his assets to mislead lenders
    and tax authorities.

    In addition we have the Manhattan DA prosecuting him for possible bank and insurance fraud and seeking eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns. All these fraudulent actions are felonies, punishable by jail terms.

    Then we have the New York Times story revealing Trump being personally responsible for
    debts approaching $400 million which may trigger a new round of fraud allegations by his lenders. In addition we have the legitimacy of a 72.9 million tax refund he claimed and of course his two years tax payments of $750.

    This never ending pattern of fraud also encompassed The Donald J. Trump Foundation
    and Trump University which required substantial payments to the litigants.

    Isn’t it funny how the word fraud always seems to come up in descriptions of his business activities? So would Fox News really want to employ Captain Fraud, aka Corporal Bone Spurs , while being prosecuted for crimes that can not be pardoned?

    But as I write this an inner voice is telling me I probably don’t want to know the answer.
    to that question.

  25. Republican Court Packing Lesson 101 With a Hoosier Twist:

    Anyone here from the Hoosier contingent, including Paul Ogden, recall the name of Myra Selby? Might be familiar to a few. Selby was the first African-American woman to be an Indiana Supreme Court Justice. In early 2016, President Obama nominated Selby to fill a vacant seat on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Well guess what? McConnell and his fellow travelers in the Senate blocked Selby’s appointment without even holding a hearing; just as he would do later that year to Merrick Garland’s SCOTUS nomination.

    And also guess what? After Trump was elected and took office, who do you think Trump nominated to fill that vacant seat on the 7th Circuit? Know that all the folks here know the answer. Hint: Initials are ACB.

  26. I do wish people would quit referring to the factions as the “moderates” and the “progressives” or believing that their is a “far left” in the Democratic Party.

    “Moderate” Donnelly was pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-tax, pro-big business, and anti-taxes.
    The Clintonistas saw Reagan’s popularity and ran to the right. Don’t ask, don’t tell, maybe a civil union, but you aren’t really equal, slash social safety net, five year limit on aid — I have three degrees and have a total of more than six years of being unemployed; I worry about the poorly educated. These are “conservative” Democrats, closer to Hoover than FDR.

    As for the left, Democrats never embraced SDS or the Communist Party like today’s Republicans (and some previous ones) have embraced the White Supremicists. Johnson stood on principle and lost the South, with it’s racists (much to my delight). The Republicans snapped them up. The “radical” Democrats are only slightly to the left of FDR, but the Democrats are no longer the Party of FDR.

    The problems with the Democrats is that they will spend a long time vetting judges, looking to be “bipartisan”. Clinton and Obama did not appoint flaming “liberals” to the bench. In fact, as I have mentioned before, Judge Posner (Reagan appointee) stated that every justice appointed since Nixon was at least slightly more to the right than the person they replaced.

    The biggest problems will be the “fiscal restraint” Democrats, who will oppose doing anything big, and the somewhat overlapping “don’t overreach” Democrats, who will oppose doing anything.
    Then the Democrats will get nothing accomplished, slightly undoing the evils Trump created, and promptly losing the 2022 election because the “both parties are alike” people will seem to be right (notice the word ‘seem’).

    Adding Supreme Court Justices will face opposition from these “conservative” Democrats, but adding judges to the lower courts is a good possibility. Covid-19 relief will be a fight, but it is doable. That should be followed by a blend of infrastructure with green energy infrastructure.
    When I ran a Condo for over a decade, nobody complained about assessment increases because they were reasonable, justified, and because we made certain that a visible improvement was made every year, be it carpeting, painting, or repaving the parking lot. This is how a Democratic Congress can stay around long enough to make real change, pass at least something that will be a visible improvement in everybody’s life. [so, basically I am doubling down on the views of Theda Skocpol]

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