Election Day 2020 didn’t begin as anybody’s idea of a celebration of democracy. Storefronts were boarded up, from Beverly Hills to Manhattan and many places in between, in anticipation of riots, an activity that one might associate with a banana republic.
Listening to the pundits and reading the tea leaves from the polls to the betting markets and even cookie contests (not the digital kind, the dough kind), it seemed as if America’s civil war-level divisiveness had little chance of resolution on Nov. 4.
And, in truth, there was a real divide for the first time since perhaps the real Civil War, a divide not between freedom and slavery but between capitalism and socialism.
Socialism has been making deep inroads into the Democratic Party, although it’s not clear that their putative leader and presidential candidate, Joe Biden, is completely on board. Rumor had it he was fending off the far-left AOC crowd’s demands for Cabinet positions in favor of old-line Democrats. But did he really have the strength to do that, and, more importantly, did he really want to?
All this, however, was premature as much of America huddled around our era’s hearths—72-inch OLED screens just purchased at Costco or similar on very low monthly payments and lugged home with or without masks on—to find out whether Donald J. Trump, the Houdini of modern politics, could once again defy the odds at the last minute, escape the chains of the mainstream media, and swim free to a second term.
We were told by a veritable army of experts that to do so, the incumbent president would have to win contested states in the South and the Sun Belt (Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and Arizona) and then pick up a state or two from the industrial North (Wisconsin, Michigan, or Pennsylvania).
But the way things are going, Pennsylvania’s votes, endlessly litigated by a flotilla of lawyers that would overflow the Rose Bowl, should be finalized somewhere around May, of what year isn’t clear. And there are already Election Day voting problems in North Carolina and Ohio, among others.
Finally, it fell, as it so often does, to Florida, that swing state of states, to give a clue to who would get the coveted 270 electoral votes and emerge the winner.
As it happened, Trump won Florida and seemed to be riding high, but then he lost Arizona, then it was put back in play, and everything was thrown up for grabs.
Nevertheless, he had defied the experts a second time and eked closer to winning a second term. It was the industrial North, the Rust Belt, that hung in the balance and, of course, Pennsylvania.
As if on cue, the electoral powers that be in that state called a halt to the vote-counting in Philadelphia with Trump substantially ahead and then, mysteriously, somehow started again in the middle of the night. No one could figure out what was going on. Enter lawyers stage left.
But could Trump win without Pennsylvania anyway? Yes, if he could run the board with Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, and Wisconsin, in all of which he held razor-thin leads around midnight.
Who had a better route to victory—Biden or Trump?
Would the mail-in votes of the COVID-fearing Democrats outweigh the Election Day enthusiasm of in-person-voting Trump supporters, or was it the other way around?
By then, it was long past midnight. The cable news hosts were looking bleary-eyed, some of them snapping at each other. No one was making much sense. We would have to wait for Nov. 4, or is it Nov. 5, or…?
But wait, waking up on Nov. 4 as bleary-eyed as any of the cable hosts, the world had changed—backfield in motion. Trump’s leads in Michigan and Wisconsin had suddenly dissolved, almost magically, with the discovery of late-arriving or late-counted or something mail-in votes.
Was it Stalin who said it doesn’t matter who makes the votes, it matters who counts them? The quote, some say, is apocryphal, but the idea itself, though grim, is nearly indisputable.
Now the fights will begin. Which votes will be kept and which won’t. When did they arrive? Who signed them? And, as law professor Jonathan Turley pointed out in the early morning, which votes are even valid? The Supreme Court is likely to get involved.
The stock market is going up, supposedly an investor vote for stability, but it seems this will only be a bonanza for lawyers.
But whatever happens, the closeness of the election has already led to one conclusion: Donald Trump has changed the Republican Party in an extraordinary way that is, in the short run at least, irreversible.
The Democrats and the Republicans have switched roles.
The Republicans have become the party of the working class. The Democrats are now the party of elites and quasi-socialists who rely on identity politics for victory.
Trump, however, stayed in the race in part by garnering new support from Hispanics and blacks, groups that had perpetually turned their backs on the GOP.
That further means that whatever happens in 2020, the Democrats may have problems ahead because those Hispanics, in particular, and blacks, to a lesser degree, are indeed starting to leave the fold after decades.
For this, the Republican Party has Trump to thank.
But what will they do if Trump eventually loses, as now seems quite possible? Will the GOP cast The Donald aside and go back to its brahman past under the leadership of the Never Trumpers? Or would a new generation rise to follow in The Donald’s footsteps?
Or would Trump himself come back to run in 2024? Who would put it past him?
Nevertheless, with all the uncertainty, there is some good news most everybody, the majority anyway, should be happy about—so far, nobody’s rioting.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Oscar-nominated screenwriter, co-founder of PJMedia, and now, a columnist for The Epoch Times. His most recent books are “The GOAT” (fiction) and “I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already” (non-fiction). Find him on Parler and Twitter (for now) @rogerlsimon.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.