There are some preliminary encouraging signs that the flood of polarizing events and attitudes in American politics is starting to descend slightly from the top of the breakwater.
The situation has become precarious because fewer than 45,000 votes in Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin could have flipped the election in the Electoral College to President Trump, and all of those states engaged in a number of revisions of methods of vote counting, supposedly to accommodate the complexities of voting during the pandemic, and the fundamental issues were never adjudicated. This situation has widely incited the inference that the result was not an honest one.
In keeping with his frequent tendency of aggravating difficult situations with intemperate and unrigorous comments, the former president declared that he won the popular vote. He obviously did not but it is quite likely that as in 2016, if improperly harvested or otherwise miscast ballots had been successfully challenged just in parts of the three states mentioned, Trump would have been re-elected.
The fact that the judiciary did not consider any of the 28 direct challenges to the integrity of the voting system, though it disallowed a lot of less comprehensive actions, confirms that, starting with the Supreme Court declining to hear for process reasons the action by the attorney general of Texas supported by 17 other states, with the lower courts essentially following the same course in other challenges from the Trump campaign, the judiciary, as a coequal branch of government, abdicated its constitutional role and duty.
The fact that the entire national political media, including even generally fair-minded or pro-Trump outlets such as Fox News, locked arms to stigmatize the Trump claims of a rigged election, confirms the proportions of the sandbag job performed against the campaign of the former president.
There are clearly many questionable voting and vote-counting practices involving many more votes in key places than are needed to flip the result and the courts won’t touch it and the media unanimously claim it couldn’t have happened. That such a result has been certified and used to launch such a radical program, would push matters in any civil society to the brink.
It is clear from the extreme allegations of the congressional Democrats and the new administration that the Democrats were hoping to destroy Trump completely by accusing him of being, as President Biden indicated in his address to the Congress on April 28, someone leading the country toward “the abyss of insurrection and autocracy.”
It is now also clear that the Trump campaign had absolutely nothing to do with, nor any desire for, trespassing, violence, or vandalism of any kind at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. It is equally true that given the dubious certification of the election as authentic, and the considerable likelihood that vote tampering was sufficient to flip the result, that President Trump responded with as much equanimity as the much praised governor of New York Samuel J. Tilden did when the election of 1876 was almost certainly stolen from him by a partisan commission (though he extracted some conditions for his acquiescence from his opponent, Rutherford B. Hayes).
Trump’s adoption of a policy of almost complete silence other than sensibly phrased emails debunking the antics of his successors has drastically reduced the noise level of American politics. It must also be said that President Biden has shown himself extremely capable at appearing to be a pleasant and reasonable man and that has drawn off much of the venom that had accumulated in the fierce and continuous struggle of the Trump administration.
The country ultimately blamed Trump for the insufferable atmosphere of contention and cross-allegations that raged throughout his term though it is at least as likely that he was merely responding, albeit with no de-escalation in the level of hostilities, to the spurious Trump-Russian collusion scam and the two utterly nonsensical impeachments to which he was subjected.
To his opponents this was just the unavoidable noise level of Trump’s America, but Trump and his 75 million voters found it was just the cacophony generated by unceasing false charges against the former president.
Now that the indications are that the Democratic pledge to keep throwing partisan prosecutors at the ex-president is not happening, and the allegations of attempted insurrection have been demolished even by the mortally discredited FBI, and the indications are that the Democrats will not be able to ram through most of the radical and profligate spending plans that have been announced or the federalization of elections with rules that would facilitate repetitions of the, to say the least, questionable results of last year, and it appears that court packing may now be a lengthily deferred proposal to have obligatory retirement ages, and the filibuster will not be overturned, the outlines of a compromise are emerging.
The Democrats will not move things to the left more than they do in a normal Democratic takeover of the Congress and the executive for two years, the attempt to criminalize policy differences will subside, and the more inflammatory measures such as court packing and accepting the District of Columbia as a state will not happen.
The Sanders-radical left Democrats will have their whole program presented but most of it won’t pass. That is an exercise that should reduce the divisions within the Democratic Party. And Trump has remained relatively quiet, although it is clearly his intention to purge many of those who were happy to run on his record of legislative and foreign policy accomplishment and strong economic record, but otherwise spent their time trying to stick butcher knives between his shoulder blades.
Most of the Republicans can unite on the necessity of defeating the far left Democratic program, something for which most Democrats, probably including the president, can accept, and the Democrats appear to agree on the formula that Biden will put the Sanders program forward, but when it is rejected the Sandersites will remain on board.
If Trump continues in this mode, in three years he will be highly eligible as the Republican nominee if that’s what he wishes. If he doesn’t he will effectively be able to name the nominee who would be a unity candidate running for the GOP against what is shaping up as the record of this administration.
Such a candidate will be an odds-on favorite to win. And for the Democrats, the endangered species of the moderate Democrat should tentatively poke its face out of the undergrowth and reacquaint the American public with non-horrifying Democratic candidates, having demonstrated that the Democratic Socialists can at least get their product to market and set out their stalls, even if they are in no position to carry the Congress or the country.
Both the Sanders radicals among the Democrats and the forces of Trump resentment among the Republicans will have been re-energized and accommodated by their parties. On this scenario, Joe Biden will have been an active caretaker banking the internecine fires of the Democrats and unifying that party a little as Clinton did after Vietnam, Watergate, Jimmy Carter, and the Reagan revolution. He will also pass as a campy socialist prophet, a candidate for a statue in Greenwich Square.
And Trump will rise forever above the charge of being a mere disruptor: he will have either replicated the feat of Grover Cleveland in winning non-consecutive terms and completed the MAGA platform that he advanced in his first term, or he will have been the architect of the great GOP move to the ethnic minorities and the working and lower middle classes and will effectively be the sponsor of the Republicans’ next leader if he does not choose to retain that role himself.
This is the first time in five years when it has been possible to see the way forward in American public life back to a functioning system of two broad church political parties led from between the 30 yard lines. The high court will recover its courage and the national political media will begin to recover their integrity. The American political system broke down but it is starting to function again.
Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world. He’s the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, and, most recently, “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other,” which has been republished in updated form.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.