Opinion | Liddick: Election Day won’t change our entrenched political squabbles
November 5, 2018
So today's the day; the day we discover the shape of our government for the next two years. And tomorrow, regardless of the result, the 2020 presidential campaign will begin.
What we will see depends largely on who wins what. Nationally, if the averages of polls are right and the Democrats win a narrow victory in the House against an enlarged Republican majority in the Senate, we will probably hear grumbling from the Democrats about how their blue wave was broken by mean ol' Republican efforts to deny the vote to decent, honest people; after all, being dead is no reason to deprive someone of the franchise. … But little else. They'll reserve the Trump-hate for the investigations and impeachments to follow, beginning in January. They know these efforts will be useless and hollow, but it will allow them to posture for the next two years, while doing nothing for which they may be held accountable.
Republicans will be silent about this sort of loss because even now, they are not unified. The Pecksniffian Never-Trump faction will sneer at the plebes whose candidate dared challenge their insular vision of rule by the Optimates, smug in the surety that the usurpers have been taught a lesson. The majority of Republicans, who make stuff, grow things, start businesses and generally form the industrious base of the country and who know they are disdained by the powerful of both parties will seethe at the fecklessness of those would-be leaders who mortgaged the nation's future to their wounded pride and hypertrophied sense of decorum. But there will be no riots, no screaming at people in restaurants, no broken glass or firebombings. Despite their portrayal in most of the media, that's not what the Republican base does.
If Republicans hold the House by however slim a majority, while gaining seats in the Senate, prepare for chaos. There won't be enough pink hats to contain the exploding heads, and the public wrecking will put 1968's "Summer of Rage" riots to shame. Expect "resistance" to expand into all areas of life and to become more violent, personal and dirty. Democrats will slide even further to the left and volleys of lawsuits — the sole recourse of a party with no levers of power and fewer sentiments about unity among Americans — will clog the arteries of every national undertaking.
And in two years we get to relive the entire black and bloody process again. It's like "Groundhog Day," only with Mephistopheles instead of Andie MacDowell.
Looking forward to the next big dance, some things come to mind. First, it's possible for either party to seize a decisive victory two years hence. Second, it is probable that neither will do so because both are prisoners of their own self-image. Democrats have explicitly become a patchwork party of aggrieved minorities; useful for distilling and harnessing the potent elixir of hate, but inefficient in accomplishing anything outside of violence and robbery: think Bonnie and Clyde Barrow as a party platform. In either defeat or victory, forget their optimistic rhetoric of "working across the aisle." Any political opponent stupid enough to extend a hand across that yawning gulf will pull back a bloody stump. It's been that way for a while, really — but these days people are paying enough attention to notice.
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Republicans, on the other hand, seem captives of a strange lethargy: having argued for and been given power, they are now paralyzed at the prospect of having to work together to use it. Consequently, the important national business which Donald Trump and his Republican supporters were elected to accomplish is now languishing because members of his own party are reticent to deliver what they promised. This bodes very ill for them today and into the future. Americans are neither dull, nor are their memories short about betrayals of this sort.
So there we have it. Come what may at the end of the day, the sun will rise tomorrow morning. There will be snow in January, and it will melt by June. Except, perhaps, at Arapahoe Basin. Political strife will continue, either loud and bloody or subdued, grumpy and grim, depending on winners and losers. Colorado will become either bluer or redder, and the parties will draw their lessons hence. But cooperation will remain elusive and unity a mirage because Democrats, in the words of their former presidential candidate, will not be civil until they gain control. The subtext here is, "of everything." And since this is a position some of us wholly embrace while the rest only feebly criticize, we have only ourselves to blame for the strife.
It's going to be a long and ugly season, folks.
Morgan Liddick writes a weekly column for the Summit Daily.
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