By the third day after the election, Democrats should be realizing that even without the hoped-for landslide, Biden has done very well. So far, he’s flipped Michigan and Wisconsin and has a good chance of flipping three more states: Arizona, Pennsylvania and possibly Georgia. That’s the good news.
Control of the Senate is still theoretically possible, though unlikely. (We can dream, can’t we?) Republicans added to their 29-state majority of state legislatures. Since the legislative majorities of the states redraw their election districts every 10 years, based on the decennial census, the heavily gerrymandered map now has the potential of skewing even more to the right. The opportunity to shape the majority of electoral districts to their advantage will continue for at least the next decade. Democrats, despite being the majority of Americans, may have to cede control of the Senate to the Republican minority.
The government we now have is an oligarchy— rule by a few. Since Democrats are concentrated in cities and Republicans tend to live in rural areas, sparsely populated states are mostly Republican, whereas densely populated cities are strongly Democratic. The result of this demographic distribution is that in the Senate, sixty senators from the least populous thirty states represent less than a quarter of the population. The courts, which should be impartial in a democracy, have become politicized, dominated by partisan conservatives.
If the American system worked as was originally intended, each state would have equal representation in the Senate and each citizen would be represented in the House of Representatives. But the system isn’t working. By dint of their gerrymandering, Republicans now have an advantage in the Electoral College, which gave the presidency to the loser of the popular vote in 12 of the last 20 years. Five of the justices on the Supreme Court were appointed by a president who lost the popular vote and confirmed by senators who represent less than half the electorate. Judicial reform and abolishment of or changes to the the Electoral College will be possible only when the minority no longer controls the Senate.
The election of 2020 will have far-reaching consequences, but until the results are known, the fate of American democracy hangs in the balance. In the face of a likely loss, Trump had a public tantrum Thursday evening. He claimed the election was fraudulent, that he was being cheated. He demanded the vote-counting be halted and threatened to take his case to the Supreme Court. Lacking any evidence to back up his claims, he was clearly flailing, desperate to hold onto power by any means. Trump never admits to losing, so a loss of this magnitude will surely spur him to lawless, despotic extremes. Will Republicans finally act to curb Trump’s worst instincts? If so, will they be able to restrain him? Fasten your seatbelts and prepare for a very bumpy ride.