Courts And Crazies – 295 or 306

This article is being written on Saturday morning for Sunday morning publishing. At this point barring the actions of the courts and the crazies I see Joe Biden winning the election with either 295 or 306 electoral votes.  Along the journey of the last few days I spotted a few things worthy of comment, with all that in mind let’s explore.

The process is taking much longer than most Americans would like. So did all the Rays playoff games but I was very happy with them making it to the World Series.  (Just a note: the only other time the Rays made it to the fall classic was in 2008 when the ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden won.)  What is important is that the election is free and fair, that all legally cast votes are counted and that any illegally cast votes are purged.  We seem to be achieving that goal and with the coronavirus that was much more difficult this time around.

As of this writing there are four states that Biden can win that are still not called: Arizona (11), Georgia (16), Nevada (6) and Pennsylvania (20). Despite several news agencies (including the “gold standard” AP) having already called Arizona for Biden that is the one of those four I am the most concerned about; hence the 295 or 306.  Interestingly Trump won in 2016 with 306 electoral votes which he inaccurately described as a landslide.  Actually it is below average if you look at races post Alaska and Hawaii becoming states.

While a mathematical chance of the Democrats taking back the Senate still exists – especially with the two Georgia seats going to January 5th runoffs –  I expect Mitch McConnell to return as Senate Majority Leader.  If that happens we have seen this movie before and the Senate will more than ever be the place good legislation goes to die.  It will also present a problem for Biden getting people confirmed, especially judges.

Biden is an institutionalist and spent decades in the Senate. He still has a lot of personal friends there on both sides of the aisle.  I see him initially trying to work with the Republicans.  I hope that works but in today’s political environment I doubt it.  If unsuccessful at compromise I hope he quickly turns to executive action.  That’s certainly not the optimal solution but it may be the best available.

If the Democrats should gain control of both chambers there has been much talk of ending the filibuster and expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court. I have mixed feelings on both and will leave those topics for another day.  The change I’d like to consider is bringing back the practice of earmarks.  Most earmarks are actually good spending and they give leadership a way to “control” their caucuses.  Building a needed bridge or highway exit ramp in some congressional district is a small price to pay to codify a woman’s right to choose or to stop voter intimidation/suppression.

Political operatives have to stop looking at the Hispanic population as homogenous. (Then we have to decide what the most respectful and inclusive word to use is.  I admit I’m confused and certainly mean no disrespect!)  While they or their ancestors may have all been born in the Caribbean or Central or South America they are certainly not a monolith and certainly don’t think of themselves as such.  Biden would have carried Florida if the Cuban-American vote had been more favorable in Miami-Dade. Democrats have to increase the turnout in the Rio Grande Valley if they are finally going to carry Texas.  Georgia and Virginia show us those are not pipe dreams.  The Democrats have to take an honest look at how they are courting Hispanic voters and how they are meeting their needs.  A New Yorker of Puerto Rican ancestry is politically very different than a Cuban-American or Venezuelan-American in Miami who fled communism or extreme socialism.  The Democratic National Committee needs to makes this issue a priority project as soon as the Georgia Senate seats are decided.

My fears going into the election were the actions of right wing domestic terrorists which as of this writing have been largely non-existent. There have been some demonstrations which law enforcement largely kept contained.  They were mainly a case of useful idiots acting on the behalf of the useful idiot (from Putin’s perspective) in the White House.

On the legal front the biggest victory as of this writing that the Trump forces have won is that their observers were allowed to move four feet closer to the ballot counters in one state.

Let’s hope things stay that way on both of those fronts!

That is enough for today; I’ll have more observations tomorrow. If we are lucky the election will be called by then.  If not just remember that good things are worth waiting for.  As long as the election is free and fair I can wait a bit more.  There is one silver lining in the delay cloud: it somewhat constrains Trump.  The time between his defeat and Biden’s inauguration will be dangerous for America and by extension mankind.

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