I’ve always thought poker contained apt analogies for politics and elections. Granted, a lot of people view both as sporting events, and there are indeed analogies there also. But ultimately, a sporting event is about imposing your will on another, and at the end of the day, there is a winner and a loser.
Politics and elections don’t work like that. In poker, there can be a winner, but a person that loses often goes home happy as well, depending on how little they lost or won. And games aren’t just single hands that finish in a single moment; they go on and on and on into the night….if they stop at all. The players may change, but the games go on.
So goes the Politics of the United States of America. Five groups sat down on Tuesday for a game. Democrats, Progressives, Trumpers, Republicans, and NeverTrumpers. Let’s see how the game came out.
- First off, the Democrats won the biggest hand of the night, as it appears (at this writing) that Mr. Biden will prevail. Big pile of chips there.
- The Republicans, however, are pretty happy as well. They didn’t win the biggest hand, but by losing, they rid themselves of a problematic president whose demagoguery had run its course. And they ended up with quite a haul of chips themselves: They will most likely control the Senate, which will prevent some really bad policy ideas from becoming law; perhaps 10–12 seats in the House, putting House control easily within their reach if the 2022 election holds to form; and took the greatest haul of votes from nonwhite voters since Eisenhower, potentially breaking up the identity-politics cabal the Dems take for granted. (They also seem to have made some inroads with younger voters, although the demographics on that are still unsure.)
- The Trumpers lost a fair amount of money, but they really did OK in the long term, for the reasons cited above in (2). They’re upset now, but when they get home, they’ll realize that they could have lost a lot more.
- The Progressives, in order to win, required two things: Complete control of all branches of government, AND a landside for Mr. Biden, which would have allowed them to (as Van Jones has stated) claim both an electoral and a moral victory over (as they see it) the nefarious evil forces underlying Trumpism. They won a few chips, with their “Squad” still intact, but not much; Biden’s signals for unity are rightly interpreted by them as “sit down and shut up”. Biden appears uninterested in fighting for controversial legislation, and Mr. McConnell will not permit anything that hasn’t been discussed and compromised on between the parties.
- Finally, the NeverTrumpers have been completely wiped out. These grifters don’t have a chip left; they bet it all on a Biden blowout. Now, they not only have no chips, they don’t have a home to go back to; they put the deed on the table in the final hand.
And they’re wearing nothing but a barrel.
Further, it’s worth mentioning that the Dems really don’t know how lucky they are by losing the Senate. Had they won the Senate, they would have faced fierce pressure to do crazy things which would prove horribly unpopular with the electorate, like dump the filibuster, pack the court, and even add a couple of states to the USA. Biden and moderate Senators like Angus King, Joe Manchin, and Jon Tester most likely would have saved them from themselves, but when other moderate Dem Senators like Coons start telegraphing (as he did) that he would consider such lunacy, the risk remained.
We are left today with a country deeply divided WRT to the role of government and policy. This by nature limits what actions a politician may support or engage in, if he/she wishes to stay in the poker game. Damon Linker of the Week wrote an excellent article on this matter, so I’ll like to post that and leave you with his operative quote:
So please, Democrats, look in the mirror and show a little humility. You’re not nearly as self-evidently wonderful or widely loved as you’d like to believe. You are not destined to prevail anywhere. You share a country with a large group of people who hate your guts, and who aren’t going to submit to your rule or go along with your giddy plans to remake the nation in your image. It’s time to start acting like you understand this implacable fact and all it implies about the limits of your power and the parameters of the possible.