IT WORKED, WHY ARE YOU SAD

Biden won, or will win shortly, but nobody seems very happy. That's understandable. The next four weeks and then the next four years are going to be miserable. Everyone can see it.

But what many of you really wanted was some big blowout, a massive repudiation of Trump. You didn't get it. It's disappointing and it has undermined your faith in your fellow voters.

Here is the thing, though: despite the criticism I leveled at the Biden campaign throughout – I felt it was far too safe and conservative an approach, it worked. It worked exactly like the people who came up with the idea to beat Trump with Biden set out to do. Biden was a careful, safe, unambitious play to win back (narrowly) some states Hillary Clinton lost very, very narrowly in 2016 – Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. And it worked. That is what happened. Amazingly, a campaign that aimed low and didn't make big promises and that made an appeal amounting to "Hey, Trump's bad, that guy's bad, I'll be better!" managed to add Arizona to the Democratic column. In light of what an amorphous, no-promises campaign they ran, it's incredible they did as well as they did.

You cannot get a big nationwide forty-state blowout simply by showing up. They chose what they felt was the safest path to defeating Trump – pick an old, smiling white male, have him promise not to change much of anything, and win back states they lost in 2016 by less than the margin of error. To get a big nationwide blowout would require a similarly big, bold, ambitious campaign offering voters some big alternative vision, not "Let's get back to the way it used to be."

All I'm saying is, you can have Joe Biden as the nominee, running a conservative campaign that wins back the margins, or you can have a nationwide blowout a la Ronald Reagan in 1984. You can't have both. You got what you wanted; he won. Expecting him to win spectacularly was completely out of line with the campaign that he ran or with the choice of Biden as the nominee. Democrats have proven, notably in 2016, that voters in some places are more than a little lukewarm toward their ideological worldview. You can't simply expect everyone to get enthused about it and bury Trump by 20 points when the nominee's key attribute, even according to allies, is that he'll keep the seat warm.

42 thoughts on “IT WORKED, WHY ARE YOU SAD”

  • Reagan in 1984 *was* an old, smiling white guy offering to continue the status quo, and making few specific commitments.

    Biden did not win like Reagan because (a) a lot of shit has changed since 1984, (b) defeating an incumbent President is hard, (c) voter suppression is a thing, and (d) even a watered-down Democrat campaign still promises change, and people are afraid of change

    Maybe a more ambitious campaign would've done better! But it would've had to turn out more voters than Biden (difficult, in a race which already had abnormally high turnout) or flip some Trump voters (also difficult).

  • I'll believe when Joe Biden takes the oath and the Orange Shit Magnet gets on Marine 1.

    It would be nice to think he'll die a broken, broke and bitter man but I'll be getting my Krugerrand shitting unicorn before that happens.

    Now, if MoscowMitch, Putain's Bitch could pop his clogs…

  • You know this is shaping up to be the biggest defeat of an incumbent since Hoover. Let that sink in for a second and then ask the real question: why didn’t the blue wave materialize? Why couldn’t Democrats flip the Senate in places Biden put into play?

  • Chris S Brude says:

    Adding on, a safe and insular campaign suited the environment that covid caused. It’d have been a fool’s errand to put forth a rally-around-the-cause candidate that would have to try to stir up fervor via Zoom meetings.

  • Kinda confused on what your point is here. Are you happy that Biden won? Happy that Trump lost? Mad that the Democratic party didn't choose a more progressive candidate (Bernie/Warren)?

    Are you simply just suggesting that this is the best possible result and we should be celebrating that?

  • "Are you simply just suggesting that this is the best possible result and we should be celebrating that?"

    Certainly anyone who supported Biden in the primary should — and anyone who opposed Biden should be breathing a sigh of relief that he at least delivered on the stated shitty promise.

  • Ed, as a long-time reader of the site, I resume you are slightly to the left of Biden. You support legal weed, medicare for all. You might agree with me that Kamala Harris or Julian Castro, for all their faults, would be better presidents than Biden.

    I have mixed feelings. First, I harbor a lot of resentment at party elites. Yes, they were correct. But if you think it through, the path to defeat Trump was always to rebuild the "blue wall" from Minnesota to New Jersey. But party elites decided to let the nomination battle play out organically until southern leaders decided to hit the override button and decide that only Biden can rebuild that wall. They were correct, fine. But I will always have rude words for Jim Clyburn. I will never understand why party leaders in South Carolina and Georgia have to be at the helm when we might never win those states again in my lifetime.

    Same for Charles Schumer, who failed to link the 71 Million votes for Biden into at least a tied Senate. He has to go, and finally his fellow senators agree.

    But what makes me mad and sad most of all is what the Democrats -as weak and as useless as hey are- cannot control. Trump became more popular since 2017. When Charlottesville happened, I and many others thought that Trump just saw himself as president of the 63 Million people who voted for him. We figured, some of those voters will die before 2020, and some new voters will vote with their parents. It ought to be 63 Million votes in 2020. But Trump got 4 million more votes. 4 fucking million! A Los Angeles of new voters. After everything that has happened. After all the insults and early morning tweets. And in the middle of a pandemic and an economic depression that is ongoing. He gained in popularity.

    And some of our brothers defected to Trump! A small wave of black men didn't vote at all in 2016 but voted for Trump in 2020. What would Brother X say? I know what I say. Ladies, do not give any sex to your man until there's a Federal law legalizing abortion or until Kamala Harris is president, whichever happens first. Actually, all women should make that vow. Yes, it's going to be a long wait.

    I will never be comfortable with the fact that 48% of voters would rather burn down the republic than share it with women and brown people. It's been this way for decades. This is just a reminder that nothing has changed. We have made zero progress. Half the nation wants the other half dead. Try to sleep well after being reminded about that fact.

  • @Talisker, Reagan offered people four more years of prosperity, after convincing them that they would do better if they elected him. OF COURSE he was gonna do so much better than Mondale, who had not much of anything to offer that could unseat a popular incumbent.

  • I have loved this blog for years, but you seem to have gone full Bernie Bro of late. Just too many blind spots and denial about what America is. This is a place full of shitty racist white people who will NEVER again turn out in landslide numbers for Democrats after the Civil Rights Movement. They would literally rather die than unite with and accept Black people. Look at the red states that are expanding Medicaid and adopting progressive drug policy while STILL voting for 45.
    There is no Democrat in existence who can deliver big electoral margins promising Leftist/progressive change. Even Dem primary voters don't vote for Leftists! Why would the full electorate do so? Barack Obama was a great orator and had great ground game, but he raised something like $500M of his $750M war chest from the financial industry. Couple that with rabid GOP base not loving McCain and the money men recoiling from Palin, and you get a semi blowout. But no truly progressive policy. Also, Leftist whites need to reckon with their own racism too, and realize they are in the Black party. Black people's lives depend on their votes, it's not theoretical. We won't back certain losers to prove a point.

  • @SHOTT3R: Yeah. Racial divisions (and urban/rural divisions) being what they are, no candidate from *either* party is winning a 45-state landslide in the foreseeable future.

    I understand Ed's frustration with the timid and unimaginative Dem establishment. But experience of other countries suggests that simply offering a laundry list of progressive policies isn't enough. They need voters to trust them to deliver, which is hard.

  • I am here for all the comments that are taking Ed ro task. You can't always be right, Ed, sir. This all sounds just made up. That's ok but remember this in the future & do it less

  • Gen Z is my Last Hope says:

    I think the thing that I'm saddest about for this, is that I don't see any future for the party that is spun up because of this.
    I don't see Democrats understanding that this strategy will only work once, and looking for the next thing. I see them saying "Look it worked! We can run all of our campaigns this way!" If they lost, maybe they have to confront that. If they eke (EEEK!) out a win I don't see them accepting that their plan is horribly flawed. Maybe I'm wrong? For my money, they don't seem to get basic strategy though.
    But maybe we found ourselves 4+ years of peace before the storm starts raging again… Maybe…

  • In 2016, like a lot of people, I thought Hilary Clinton was the problem.

    Now, seeing this… I don't think so any more. Biden is getting similar results. [Insert plausible Democratic candidate here] probably would have gotten similar results. Within a margin of error, it splits almost down the electoral middle. The candidate is not the problem. Policy is not the problem. Nothing over which we have control is the problem.

    Our problem over here on the left-center-sane side of the aisle is the voters on the batshit crazy train. Until and unless we figure out how to break whatever quasi-religious spell the GOP and its acolytes have successfully cast over nearly half of this country, we can't climb out of this hole. Whatever breaks them free, it's not going to be logic, appeals to their enlightened self-interest or a sense of decency… they've proven immune to those things.

    Waiting for them to grow old and die doesn't seem to be working either. I'm a late boomer; I've watched my own once young and open-minded cohort grow up to be a bunch of assholes. Fifty years ago I'd never have believed racism, sexism, the war on drugs or blatant disregard for our environment would be anything but a quaint memory.

    I think we can stop beating up on ourselves. I'd rather believe we were the problem, because we could try to fix that, but it just doesn't make sense anymore. It's not us; it's them. And they keep on coming.

  • Counter-point: Biden is going to win the largest number of votes with the largest percentage of voters ever. That's called "enthusiasm."

    Obviously I see what you're getting at Ed. The Dem establishment balked and put up the safe old white guy.

    But as others have mentioned, we're dealing with serious structural issues (Senate, Electoral College) that won't go away any time soon.

    So let's get to brass tacks — as I type this black voters in Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Detroit are saving Biden's bacon.

    Would Bernie have "won over" as many WWC folks as he would have turned off black folks? Let's be honest — he's never had a solid rapport with POC, and that's why Clyburn pulled the trigger back in South Carolina.

  • This is somewhat correct, but there is more to it than that. I think people supported Biden because they thought we need a guaranteed win like Obama would get and he's the closest thing to it. If you thought back to before the primary, if you thought that Democrats would win an election with more than the popular vote from say Obama '12, no matter what happens on the state level, awesome, that will work. Obama '12 results against an incumbent, that'd be great! And we got that, except another 8 years of rust belt millenials finishing college/grad school, shit first job and getting the hell out of the rust belt. It's still occurring, but not enough to make Georgia, Texas, Arizona, North Carolina and other states safe D states, but enough that Ohio is too far gone, and PA, MI and WI are now going to be states we can win but not count on. Throw in lack of ticket-splitting down ballot (except for Susan Collins' black magic), and we lose senate races where we could have won-seeing every close pickup opportunity fail, and fail badly was pretty shocking, and lose a bunch of house races, and there was no real common thread, those more moderate than Biden and those to the left of Biden both failed.

    As Mister Sterling said above, Trump got 4 million more votes than last time. I don't think that's a failure on the part of the Democrats, Democrats turned out the voters that they needed assuming a '16 Trump turnout, and just assumed that Trump picked up all the Facebook School of Hard Knocks grads and Political Affiliation: Their All Crooks new voters in '16. If anything, between some of the old ones dying, and some slinking away, as long as Democrats really showed up, it would be a solid win, with some big Senate pickups. I don't think people imagined there were more new voters for Trump to pick up, and polling missed that entirely-which is why everyone is upset, no one expected a nail biter. I'm not sure what the lesson is-Trump really activated the American Berserk, does that go away with him?-probably not. By the time votes are counted, Biden will have like a 5% margin of victory, just spread out in a way that is not maximally efficient. What do we do with that? Would Sanders, Warren, whoever else who didn't run have attracted more voters in the rust belt to make this better? Larry Householder, the Ohio Speaker of the House who took a $60 million bribe from the nuclear power industry to raise electricity rates on every household and business in Ohio in order to give the money to the nuclear power industry, well, he just got reelected! How do Democrats appeal to those voters? I don't know.

  • The Democrats got an ideology?
    Pray tell, what is it? "We're not Republicans!"? Which is stretching the truth.

  • With two exceptions, the comments on here are thought provoking.

    There are two glaring problems in U.S. politics, excess religious influence on public policy and legislation AND racism. We can only fix one of those by enforcing the Johnson Amendment. But if the KKKristStained ReiKKKs free megaphone was shut off, less of ALL of the nonsensical bullshit that they spew would pollute rhe airwaves.

    Renewing the Fairness Doctrine would be fucking awesome, too.

    * My own and that of the lying sack-of-shit coward who signs as Inkberrow**

    ** He misspells either, "Inkblot" or "Indignorant fuck"

  • The trouble with President Milquetoast is that he didn't bring more Democratic Senators along with him. Could anyone else have done more? A Bernie or Elizabeth or even Amy Klobuchar? The list was short on charisma of the safely white male variety. Now we have to limp along with Mitch again, at least until the midterms.

  • I'm proud to be a Democrat. We voted to underpin our privilege over the needs of the less fortunate. Also,I look forward to being governed under Biden's style of fascism.

  • Gee Ed, it could be that I’m sad because a razor-thin victory is so much more likely to end in violence. We already knew Trump was going to scream for an insurrection, and already there are calls for armed yahoos to descend on states that are still counting. Is that a good enough reason for you?

    As the Trillbillies have pointed out on your very own podcast, many of the Senate races were never in play and were just a vehicle for fundraising. I look at several supposedly close races where the Democrat lost by double digits and can only conclude that I was played. The Democratic Party has a very real problem of taking votes and support of all kinds for granted.

    Lastly, I live in Texas and while I got a full dozen messages asking for donations, I only saw one about volunteering to get actual voters to the polls. I talked to one Party official about it, who told me to check public transit (Which doesn’t exist outside of Dallas). Texas might go blue one day if the party actually tried, but I am not going to hold my breath.

  • Biden was not inevitable–he was everyone's third or fourth choice, if that. Sanders had enough support to defeat every single one of his opponents one on one, which was the Trump playbook. If everyone had immediately dropped out in 2016 and united behind, dunno, Jeb Bush, then Trump would absolutely have not been the nominee. He simply didn't have the support of more than a not particularly large plurality of Republicans at the time. Democrats learned the wrong lesson from this. All of Sanders' opponents (essentially) dropped out within 48 hours and also endorsed the Democratic Jeb Bush and it was quite obviously coordinated. So no, everyone didn't decide they loved Joe Biden. All of our choices were taken away in the course of a weekend. We were in shock. I voted absentee for Warren, so I was never in danger of being stuck in this sad, sad position.

  • @Jay:

    Read the last 3 sentences of my comment, then read your comment again. Stop erasing Black people. Black people, especially Black women, are the backbone of the Democratic Party. So stop saying "our" choices were taken away, and that "we" were in shock. No. YOU were in shock. Biden was not "everyone"'s third or fourth choice. For people where a win might actually be the difference between life and death, Biden was the number one choice. Ironically, largely because of the racism and sexism of the broad swath of "decent" Americans.

    I donated to Bernie the month he announced in 2015. And I can still admit Bernie was never going to pull off 306 EV and a 5 million popular vote win in 2020.

  • Biden will be a reduction of pain, possibly even cognizant of the first rule of holes (When you're in one, stop digging.) and that's no small thing. To put the nation back on track will require that "Malefactors of great wealth" realize that their class war is a mistake, but even a Wall $treet crash sized boot to the head will probably not be enough, that will need to be something along the lines of the GOP shuts down everything until a desperate Nation elects another reactionary pinhead who starts a war and discovers we don't have enough on shore industry to resupply, and fortunes denominated in dollars start looking like waste paper.

  • The elites need to rise against the ignorant masses. A Biden Presidency will be the impetus for such a rising.

  • IF the two parties were the same, or even close to it, there wouldn't be any unions, any ACA, ANY safeguards in the workplace, any protection for LGBTQ.

    Does the DNC suck donkeydongs–HELL YES.

    Do they go out of their way to fuck everybody who isn't one of their party (and a lot of them as well)? No.

    You can't keep the ship off the reef if the captain is a no-talent, lying fuckbag. Joe Biden, with all of his faults, isn't anything like Trumpligulamygdala where governance is concerned.

  • @ Kaleberg:

    I am not the person you're talking to, am I?

    Just in case it was. I was not a fan of Mr. Biden. I am a fan of something approaching rationality and he's the only person of the two that has a chance of being that person.

  • I'm walking back my criticisms of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

    I'm doubling down on my criticism of Lady Macbe…uh, Hillary Clinton.

    Her hubris and arrogance gave us four years of PTSD. She needs to take her Chardonnay, stay in the Chappequa woods, shut her mouth and go away.

  • @SHOTT3R – Stop rewriting history. Biden was the choice of older blacks; under age 40 Sanders won in all ethnic groups except uhhh… whites. Go figure. More importantly, it was Obama who stole our choices by pressuring three candidates to drop and endorse Biden the night before super tuesday.

    Now (presumably) you got what you wanted: a senile jailer will be president and give us 4-8 more years of the exact same policies that delivered us to Drumpf in the first place. Buckle up! Tom Cotton 2028 is gonna bit one helluva ride.

  • It's about time we have a president with hairy legs. Hair that turns blond when exposed to the sun. I'm so excited!

  • Sure. I’ll make a comment confident that it will go unnoticed all these days after Ed’s post.
    What the fuck did anyone expect?
    Look at it. The scripts been writ.
    It’s long gone Sally
    We be screwed.
    Bidden to Biden.
    Ciao ciao. (Not talking Purina.)

  • Biden and Harris will send thousands of parents to jail for not allowing their children to attend school during this pandemic! Well,perhaps not those among the PMC–but the poors will suffer! And rightfully so for not acquiring the correct and appropriate credentials!

    Biden and Harris will make sure those under the wealthiest twenty percent will not have access to good schools,proper medical attention and justice.

    The DNC will continue to destroy working people.

  • We must do everything to destroy the lives and the dreams of their children of anyone not a member of the Democratic Party.

  • Go Biden and Harris says:

    I'm so proud! Biden and Harris will bring forth Universal Healthcare to/for America. This first part of the program will be implemented in 2087 and will be fully to go in the year 2192. THIS IS PROGRESS!

  • On the bright side, because of the climate change crisis a universal healthcare program will be eminently affordable by then.

  • I'm impressed by Biden's choices for his cabinet. Brown folks worldwide will be summarily turned to pink mist!

  • Biddy bye bye all your hopes and dreams/you think you’re woke but you’re just drooling/snoring with night sweats wetting pj’s/ the sheets . . .
    What we think what we say what we do . . .
    Toss the waves toss the tea toss your cookies.
    This shit show’s coming home to you.

    Thanks Ed for providing this platform for these ejaculations. And thank you Tiny Tim and the asylum gate keepers and especially my mom and her agency without which none of this would be possible.

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