When You Put It That Way…

As we watch the dust settle from the November election, many of us are torn: we are immensely relieved that Trump was emphatically defeated, but disappointed that the polling was so wrong, that the Democrats failed to take the Senate and win the many statehouse races around the country that looked within the party’s grasp.

Dana Milbank addressed that disappointment in a recent column for the Washington Post.

Milbank reminded his readers just how significant the election results were, and noted that the recriminations and dismay fail to do justice to “the historic victory that Democrats, independent voters and a brave few Republicans just pulled off.”

They denied a president a second term for the first time in 28 years — putting Trump in the company of Jimmy Carter and Herbert Hoover. President-elect Biden — just writing that brings relief — received more votes than any other presidential candidate in history, in an election with historically high voter turnout. A president who loves to apply superlatives can now claim a RECORD, HUGE and BIGGEST EVER defeat….

Ousting a demagogue with the loudest megaphone in the land is not an easy undertaking. Trump’s opponents had to overcome an unprecedented stream of disinformation and falsehoods from the president, even as his party normalized the assaults on truth, on facts, on science, on expertise. Trump’s opponents were up against a strongman who used the Justice Department, diplomats and the intelligence community to harass political opponents, who used federal police to suppress public demonstrations, who engaged in a massive campaign of voter intimidation and suppression, and who used government powers for political advantage: enlisting government employees to campaign for him, sabotaging postal operations, putting his name on taxpayer-funded checks, using the White House for a party convention. And Trump’s opponents had to contend with a Fox News cheering section and social-media landscape that insulated millions from reality.

It would be great if We the People could now just breathe sighs of relief and go back to our apathetic ways–back to the time before Trump where majorities of citizens essentially ignored politics and government–leaving policy to the political class. A sweeping victory that included the Senate would undoubtedly be seen as a signal that “our long national nightmare is over” and we can return to our previous preoccupations.

That would be a mistake. Perhaps a fatal one.

The Trump administration has been a symptom. A frightening one, for sure, but a warning that when large numbers of citizens take a protracted absence from participation in the democratic process, bad things happen. People like Mitch McConnell gain power. The rich and well-connected bend the laws in their favor. Politicians who place the exercise of power above the common good are entrenched. The planet suffers.

In past posts, I have enumerated many–certainly not all– of America’s structural issues and the way those issues have facilitated our transformation into a kakistocracy. We the People have our work cut out for us, and just as the obvious dangers of the Trump administration served as a wake-up call for millions of Americans who had been ignoring our downward spiral, the fact that seventy million Americans voted not just for a frighteningly mentally-ill ignoramus, but for the party that enabled him, must serve as a warning.

Americans who live in the reality-based community cannot afford to lapse back into complacency and the never-well-founded belief that “it can’t happen here.”


  1. Technically, malignant narcissism isn’t a mental illness. It’s a deep character flaw with no cure or treatment. If Main Stream Media hadn’t spent the last four years trying to normalize Trump, we would all understand that and could have done more to contain him, his sycophants in Congress, and his cult following. But yes, the so-called resistance must remain vigilant and continue to grow its ranks.

    And hope and pray that the Biden-Harris administration does something, anything, to show that it’s ready to take on corporate power and white supremacy with gloves off. There can never be unity around the notion that justice only applies to a certain demographic. That’s what got us here.

  2. It starts at the local level. We still have too many local government officials who want to impose “religious laws” as the law of the land. Taking away women’s healthcare rights, equal opportunity employment and equal education rights. As long as they are in power we will continue to see “the party” agenda move forward.

  3. If you watched CNN and MSNBC late yesterday and early today, the dust is not settling but has been stirred up and we may have been blindsided by the final results.

    “The Trump administration has been a symptom. A frightening one, for sure, but a warning that when large numbers of citizens take a protracted absence from participation in the democratic process, bad things happen.”

    Bad things are not only continuing but escalating; apparently authorities have been tracking blogs, E-mails, Tweets, social media postings of those who support Trump’s refusal to concede. After his “speech” yesterday they reported a planned “One Million Man March” in Washington, D.C., of Qanon, militants, Proud Boys, etc., and possibly in other cities. CNN announced this morning that none other than Roger Stone is the organizer of these dangerous protests. That means money; lots and lots and lots of money. Bannon is also supporting this action; he was recently removed from Twitter for stating Dr. Fauci should be beheaded.

    The election may be over but the Lame Fuck president’s presidential campaign has been escalated and is heavily financed as well as heavily armed. And remember, he told them to “Stand Back and stand by”; this must be why he gave that order. There is still a slight chance to match the Senate numbers with the Georgia runoff between Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff against their Republican opponents. I have $50 checks in the mail for pickup today to both; pitiful but if more of us continue the fight for the Senate we can at least improve our numbers and at best come up with a 50/50 count.

    Will cities other than Washington, D.C., be boarded up this weekend, will all public safety officers be on Alert; and how will private citizens carry on their lives this weekend and stay safe from Trump’s armed supporters? We can’t breathe a sigh of relief over the presidential election results; Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be inaugurated January 20, 2021 but that date seems to have moved further and further away just since yesterday. What country are we living in?

    “Americans who live in the reality-based community cannot afford to lapse back into complacency and the never-well-founded belief that “it can’t happen here.”

  4. We’ve always heard that ‘America is a country where every boy can grow up to be President’. Well, we finally saw what happens when the absolute worst kind of boy does, and it’s disastrous.

  5. I would recommend that JoAnn turn off her TV. Both parties are using what’s occurring as an opportunity to fundraise. Trump owes millions to cities across the Midwest and the southern US for hosting his rallies. The money he is raising for his faux defense fund is so to pay off his campaign debts. Don’t get suck into it.

    Meanwhile, the names of Biden affiliates are coming forward and all MIC/IC goons. #Shocking

    I believe Plato first warned us that voter apathy would lead to being ruled by our inferiors. That happened a long time ago. Our government and fourth branch of government is owned and controlled by the oligarchy.

    There are no solutions to our problems coming from the two oligarchy-owned political parties.

    However, what I do find fascinating is Charles Koch has a new book out. During an interview, he did admit that he screwed up the GOP with a chuckle. Jane Mayer was sharing it on Twitter.

    We’ve just experienced four years of extreme narcissistic abuse. Manipulation would feel like serene bliss compared to what we’ve experienced, but oppression and manipulation are the status quo.

    I’ll leave you with a quote from a former VP who was canned by the Democratic Party:

    “The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity .…They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.”

    Vice President Henry A. Wallace, April 9, 1944.

  6. Todd; if you were paying attention you would know that funds are needed for the Senate runoff election on January 5th in Georgia. This is a major election due to the POSSIBILITY of finding some measure of control over McConnell who is there for six more years. The possibility of this becoming a violent weekend by those who support Trump’s refusal to concede this election; his own lawyers on Fox News stated he has lost this election. Yes; I also check Fox News from time to time and at the time I saw that news report I had switched from CNN and MSNBC which had both reported Trump’s own government stated this was the safest election in American hstory.

    You would also be aware that Trump’s appointed Republican head of GSA is denying the President elect and Vice President elect and their Transition Team all access to their rightful funds and Intelligence and Defense information. The Transition Team is trying, while being blocked at every turn, to promote safe practices to at least slow this Covid-19 Pandemic. The United States has 1/5th of the world’s diagnosed cases and one of the highest death counts. This is information all Americans NEED to be aware of.

    Your people in Muncie and Middletown might benefit by you passing this information along. You are still posting anti-Democratic blathering; you are not helping your “peeps” in your small area of Indiana by not urging them to turn off Andy Griffith and Hogan’s Heroes years old reruns and checking the news channels for the reality of life today.

  7. I have little hope that things will change anytime soon. I suspect the GA Senate seats are already lost. It is too easy to lie to win.

    Yesterday my facebook feed popped up with a memory, where I had shared a book I had just read. It was Scott Adams book, “Win Bigly”. Appropriately enough the subtitle was “Persuasion in World Where Facts Don’t Matter”.

    Also the link you shared yesterday was a pretty stark condemnation of white America. America’s original sin seems to be imbedded in the white heart and soul of the nation, and as long as you can convince lots of people (and this election has proved a lot of people are still convinced) that doing good for everybody is going give away something to that “other” person, people will vote against their own self interests.

    Congress needs to reign in the Citizens United decision. They need to regulate all social media. They need to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine.

  8. The meaning of brevity is the quality of expressing much in few words; terseness: Ironically, it is long-winded Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet who famously says that brevity is the soul of wit. Thank you, Sheila, for your brilliant brevity. We do well to follow your example.

  9. Democrats didn’t do as well as expected for more than one reason with regards to the polls.

    #1 Republicans don’t answer polls.
    #2 Democrat messaging was awful for down-ticket races.
    #3 Democrats made it more about Trump than the kitchen table issues for down-ticket races.

    There is NO reason why Susan Collins should have been re-elected. She was toast. I revert to my years-long whine about Tom Perez as head of DNC. Replace his worthless butt with Stacey Abrams and let’s get to work making our candidates attractive to people with common sense.

  10. Despite a 65% of registered voter turnout in 2020, the US still significantly lags most other “developed nations” . https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/11/03/in-past-elections-u-s-trailed-most-developed-countries-in-voter-turnout/

    While it would be wonderful to imagine a national requirement to “vote or pay a tax” as in Australia and Belgium, the “right” not to vote is sacred to our “rights” credo, like “the right” not to have health insurance, the “right” to drive 90 mph in a 65 zone, the new “rights” not to wear a mask or get a vaccine, etc.

    It is culture. In Australia, virtually no one drives more than 5 kph over the limit. It was explained to me there at the “mate culture”.

    Anyway, how about just making Election Day a national holiday? Don’t need to add one. Just merge it with the nearby Veterans Day and market it as “vote and remember the folks who died for your right to be able to vote”.

  11. I am certain that many historians have carefully researched all the events that led to the rise of Hitler in Germany.

    We need to start the research on how Trump rose to power now. We need to look at how the extreme right is influencing voters and brainwashing them with lies ie COVID is a hoax, the election was rigged. This is not going away just because Biden won the election.

    We have to address the rise in domestic terrorism and hate crimes. We have to identify which individuals are at risk for their recruitment, of being radicalized. We have to create a strategy that undermines their recruitment efforts.

    When Biden takes office, he will need to create a group of advisors who can help him create the strategy to undermine people like Steve Bannon and Roger Stone.

  12. My question is who are we, really? What we see is who we have been made to act like by social and entertainment media covert and overt advertising, propaganda.

    Consider: https://thehill.com/homenews/news/525878-charles-koch-regrets-his-partisanship-boy-did-we-screw-up

    Charles Koch, the sponsor of a great deal of influence buying that helped determine to some degree what we act like, now, maybe, sees his creation as a mistake.

    What if this is the beginning of a trend to reduce the funding for propaganda and the rubber band of culture recovers its former shape?

    It took propaganda several decades of consistent effort to stretch culture to this shape so it’s not a bad assumption that will also be true of recovery if in fact political propaganda reduction does become a trend.

    Hope is always long term patient optimism but the beginning is, just maybe. Just maybe recovery is possible.

  13. We seem to be unhappy when our reason to fear subsides, as now. We won, folks, and we are going to govern. We have much to undo initially and I understand that there are 277 presidential orders and directives which are ready to be undone the afternoon of Biden’s inauguration (closely following his first attention to the COVID crisis). We should, of course, be concerned with Proud Boys, racists and other such chaff, but let’s leave that to our local law enforcement, the FBI and others to handle, while we proceed to govern. Let’s make policy. Let’s do what we were elected to do, and treat Trump’s continuing prattle after Biden’s inauguration as prattle since we legitimize it if we respond to his hate and ego trips. Our best response to his “The Dems stole Pennsylvania” next spring may be (unless accompanied by violence) silence, since we have better things to do with our time and energy, like governing.

    There is also a good chance that Trump and some of his entourage will be out on bond awaiting state trial or perhaps incarcerated by next spring, and his usual cry of politics! will fall on deaf ears since such charges spring from crimes committed before he became a candidate for office, so let’s reserve our fear of fear and keep a sharp eye on Trump and his minions for the next 67 days, after which we will introduce the hard work of governing to an ungoverned polity after a four year lapse.

  14. polling, ive been asked for my view,in malls, sidewalks venues..what i dont get is the direct answer they insist on,or,they click it off as they see fit. theres way too many varibles in why,what and how. being i find many people i speak with havent a clue about affairs,poitical, or local. im shot up with quotes,answers,and false BS in any conversation.. do they only poll the,people who are well educated,or a vast array of cultures,or the above? .if they do a few thousand,id have to question the outcome as a national opinion.. the fact the polls are wrong is because they do not have a program of,or getting above a few thousand hits. my answer wont be in a poll, my answer deals with the whole subject,and who,and its past performance against the BS job their offering. you can not expect someone to adhear to a subject,when the constant talk changes. the polls are wrong because of the people who run them. its a waste of time to conclude something that changes by the minute, in todays state of conversation..unless you keep aware of that subject matter daily,only then,your opinion may endure,while others just mimick or are given off the cuff,after all, whos wasting whos time? polls could be a great effort if,,,it was done on social media,,,without the damn thing going cambridge analytical. if everyone was assured your IP wasnt a given intrests to some enity with the bucks to buy it..profit over polling for the good ( we need a euro style privacy rule,and this is a perfect subject). we seen the outcome,if anyone believed the trumpism wasnt a come on from this countries nationalist intrests,may i invite you to a road side bar in the woods,and we can get the opinion and why it failed after 5 minutes of convesation in there.. im living on the road where i will believe,many here wouldnt step into, much less park in the lot. we lost because we still have a news media that insists on nationalism,and the neonews and how wall street insists on the nationalists view. (hey anyone read charley kochs new vision for his money and power,if ya swallowed poison,use it to…) if workers rights,labor,wages,health care,and how damn much money goes too profit over the needs of the working class,the media could change alot,to a more liberal society,but when the staus quo is schumer and pelosis DNCC,DNC,perez,crap,any opinion doesnt count… we have all become numb as to, hey,thats the way it is..my answer,to the working class and small buisness,,change it,get your head out of your ass and read why you will always be next to failure and the poverty line..Biden won,and we may have spoke out,but we are not even 1/10 of 1% there..Bernie for secty of labor,Warren for secty of treasury,,and see mnuchin go back to wall street and stay there,along with trumps whole cabinet.. we now have the names of who, as i see it,are treasonous to America,never allow them to darken the halls of our Democracy again.we dont need a poll for that…

  15. One hopeful sign that I see on the horizon is the subtle shift happening in the fossil fuel industry including Charles Koch. They’re seemingly moving towards acceptance of the end of their prime business from stretching demand to consume at least their current reserves by covert social and entertainment media propaganda.

    This is one of the forces at work at dooming Trump et al to irrelevance. Will that trend continue down through the Republican infrastructure?

  16. p.s. the farmers/ranchers here,in NoDak average about $100 per acre on the PPP/farm welfare give away..if trump hadnt messed with trade,they could have made some money from thier output,instead,many of them have only been given a extended line of credit,welfare and deeper in debt..trump bought his votes,er,fair and square,eh?

  17. Trump is grumpy because he’s smart enough to know that losers don’t get to write history. History captures them rather than vice versa.

  18. From working numerous elections as a committeeman, ward chairman and on campaigns and even my own, I cringe when people start citing turnout figures. Turnout is measured by: number of people who vote/number of people registered. The reason our turnout numbers are not higher is that since the National Voter Registration Act (Motor Voter) and its progeny the number of people who are registered has soared. Not because more people are registering, but those federal laws have made it very hard to remove voters who have moved or have died. As a result, the voter registration rolls are filled with such people and that drives down voter turnout rates. There have been many counties in Indiana, including at one time, Marion County, which has 100% plus registration of voting age citizens.

    One thing I learned f4omm working with voter registration lists is that if someone does not vote a single time in a four year cycle, there is about a 99% chance the person is dead or has moved. In fact, I’ve never seen such a person come in and try to vote.

    If you compare voter turnout versus the voting age population, 2020 might have been the best turnout year ever, even better than 1900. I have to look at the numbers.

    Making election day as a holiday won’t increase turnout. You make that Tuesday a holiday and what happens? People take Monday off for a four day weekend and they leave town. I have never seen any kind of stats to prove large swaths of people are disenfranchised because they can’t get off work on Election Day. This is even more true when there are so many early vote options. You can also vote absentee if your work prevents you from voting on Election Day.

  19. Todd:
    Trump and his campaign still owe cities, such as Tucson where I live, and states money for the rallies held in them in 2016. Our Mayor actually tried to get Trump to pay up for 2016 before his rally here this year, but got no money. He’s not going to pay those debts or the ones incurred in this election cycle either. The money being collected will go directly into Trump’s, his family’s and cronies’ pockets. He’s stiffed and ripped off people his entire adult life.
    As far as Charles Koch’s lamentations go: Watch what he and his dark money political action committees do (which was to give a ton of money to Republicans in this election), not what he says. He’s 85 and his brother David died not long ago. I suppose it’s possible he has had a “Come to Jesus” moment. A little too late to make up for the harm he has done and is still doing.

  20. David, I believe that some redemption is available to our last breath but credibility is a life long achievement. Like Trump, Charlie Koch has already given away in the service of greed almost all of his credibility.

    We can only follow the money to know what is really in his heart.

  21. Patrick is right about malignant narcissism, it’s not an official diagnosis. It is the designation that Eric Fromm put together, to describe Hitler, after surviving a concentration camp experience. It is a deep set mix of character flaws, that drive sometimes, it appears, psychotic perception. I also fault the major media markets, for their greed driven attachment to Trump’s seeking the spotlight. They gave him a huge amount of free publicity, as he did his bizarre dance, leading up to the primaries.
    There is no doubt that Milbank is correct, we can not go back to the old “normal,” but have to stay alert, and involved, leaving as little as possible to the political class. whatever their agenda is is is not one with the populace foremost!

  22. “He’s (Biden) going to fall into a trap because he constantly talks about the good old days in the Senate,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

    “He’s living in a past that was destroyed a long time ago and the remnants of it have been incinerated by Donald Trump. The cooperation just doesn’t exist except on things that aren’t controversial and that’s not where you need cooperation. You need cooperation to solve difficult problems, not the easy ones.”

    Vernon, I would agree with your post @ 9:19 am.

    The Democrats seemed obsessed with The Trumpet. Their ads from the DCC were for the most part attack ads. Personally, IMHO attack ads are a waste of money. Tell me what your candidate stands for.

  23. The Trumpet and by his influence over the GOP as a whole is going through the stages grief.:

    The 5 stages of grief and loss are: 1. Denial and isolation; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. People who are grieving do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order or experience all of them.

    Contrary to popular belief, the five stages of loss do not necessarily occur in any specific order.

    This flaying around with lawsuits, and Tweets about fraud and corruption are the denial and anger stages. The Trumpet on his latest public appearance appeared depressed and empty.

    The problem is his ego has been shattered and there is no one who is strong enough to tell him “It is All Over”, he would react with a rage against that person.

  24. You mention the “political class”, Sheila, and I notice that phrase with a different frequency than I usually do. So, I think about the political class.

    Until now, I have thought of political class as some sort of derogatory term used more often to besmirch than to define. Now, I see it. There really is a political class. It is the relatively small group of awakened individuals that is highly aware and thoughtful and active in politics.

    So what are the rest of us? For most of our political history we have been the clownfish and remoras, organisms that hang around big boy political sharks in a kind of commensalist symbiotic relationship, commensalist because we get a little something — trickle down — from the relationship while the shark, the political class gets almost nothing from us in return. It’s a passive, sleepy, non-awakened strategy, a lazy, lazy lifestyle.

    I’m thinking now that the term “non-political class” is the term that should be used to derogate, actually, to insult most of us but especially the deplorables. And “political class” should be used to compliment those who are politically awoke.

    Which awakens a question: Just how much should society permit those who have chosen the non-political/passive/non-awakened life strategy to benefit from the few who are the political class, the political sharks so-to-speak, the ones who do all the political work, take all the political chances, and invest their lives in political gambles.

    Maybe we have no grounds for complaint when we choose to live the lazy life of a clownfish.

    I’m for a citizen opt-out option for all those wannabe mountainmen, who claim to be independent and self-sufficient and refuse to cooperate with fellow Americans. Fine; sign the opt-out, and then go be self-sufficient. Make use of no tax-supported infrastructure and benefit from no state or national law. Own no tool, weapon, or comfort that is the product of organized work teams in factories. Have no job, other than making do for yourself, because jobs are the result of many forms of cooperation and teamwork. You want to be independent, you want to be responsible for only yourself, then act as if you do. And if you’re scared of being truly self-sufficient, then shut the F up and join the American team.

  25. ML, Trump is congenitally incapable of learning anything from anyone ever no matter who speaks what to him.

    That’s the source of the failure that has plagued his whole life but slightly obscured by the length of his head start.

  26. One short comment today –
    The bend a phrase, Sheila, from your mouth to 200 million American ears – or as many as are still living in this reality.

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