Last night went not as I hoped but as I feared. I indulged in wishful thinking that Biden might win in decisive fashion and the Democrats would flip the Senate and pad their majority in the House, but I knew full well that it was wishful, if within the realm of possibility, only at its outer reaches.
Even if Biden holds on to win, even if he survives the onslaught of challenges, court cases, misinformation, lies, and other shenanigans sure to come, he will be faced with multiple crises, a deeply, deeply divided country, a federal government that has suffered tremendous damage at the hands of his predecessor, and it now seems likely a narrow Republican majority in the Senate that will resist anything and everything he tries to accomplish.
The state of the nation is grim. There is no getting around the sobering fact that almost half of Americans who voted in a year with record turnout cast their ballots for an authoritarian strongman. This cannot be put down, as it was in 2016, to propaganda that presented Trump as a successful businessman who would run the government with businesslike efficiency, to Hillary Clinton's unpopularity, Russian interference, or to Jim Comey's bumbling interference. After four years of a Trump presidency, we all know what we get with him, and an awful lot of us want more of the same.
My state of mind? Disheartened, downcast, despondent. Yet…as my old French teacher Marie Laure used to say, so whacha gon' do? Jonathan V. Last at The Bulwark nails it:
This man is trying to exhaust the country into giving up. When a man has power and no conscience, he pays no price for lying. Either practical or psychological. The price is borne entirely by the normal people who push back against the lies. Who refuse to accommodate his will to power. Who insist that there is objective reality.
I know you’re tired. God knows, I’m tired too.
But you cannot lay down this burden. Not yet.
Finish the fight. (Finish the Fight)
Local election results brought a bit of good news when Ted Wheeler was reelected mayor and Mingus Mapps unseated incumbent city commissioner Chloe Eudaly. No one would argue that Wheeler has been effective in his handling of the police bureau or the endless round of protest, property damage, and violence against persons. For this he has blasted, for different reasons, to be sure, by progressives, his opponent Sarah Iannarone among them at the head of the pack, and conservatives alike.
Wheeler can however point to positive moves to address homelessness and environmental issues even though much remains to be done. In the end he worked with Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and other members of city council on public safety and police reform, although he does not always go as far as desired by Hardesty, who endorsed Iannarone and Eudaly. Even Iannarone said in a statement released last night that she believes Wheeler is a good human being with many good works to his credit as mayor along with his admitted failings (Ted Wheeler declared winner).
Eudaly was less than gracious in defeat, declaring it a sad day and a step back for Portland, lamenting that voters could not see more clearly, and closing with a swipe at her opponent: "I think Portland is in for a surprise when they realize who they've elected. He's good at saying lots of words without actually saying anything."
Mingus Mapps for his part reached out to Eudaly and her supporters:
"I also want to thank Commissioner Eudaly for her service to this community and for all she has done to make Portland better. Like me, she loves Portland and Portlanders. I also want to take this opportunity to thank her volunteers and supporters and everyone who voted for her. Portland has a lot of work to do to rebuild and make our City work for everyone and tomorrow a new chapter begins. (Jaquiss, Newcomer Mingus Mapps Sweeps Commissioner Chloe Eudaly From Office).
The tenor of their respective remarks illustrates the contrast between their approaches to governing. That contrast played a substantial role in the endorsement of Mapps and rejection of Eudaly by Portland voters.
On the congressional front, Oregon Democrats held on to their five of the state's six seats in the House, with Peter DeFazio's contest in the 4th District too close to white-knuckle territory for comfort. Senator Jeff Merkley won reelection by handily defeating QAnon, I mean, Republican candidate Jo Rae Perkins.
Keep the faith. I know it's hard. But somehow, keep the faith.
References and related reading
Everton Bailey Jr., Portland voters pick newcomer Mingus Mapps over incumbent Chloe Eudaly for City Council, The Oregonian/OregonLive, updated November 4, 2020
Heather Caygle, Sarah Ferriss, Ally Mutnick, 'Dumpster fire': House Democrats trade blame after Tuesday’s damage, Politico, November 4, 2020
Rebecca Ellis, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler wins second term, Oregon Public Broadcasting, November 3, 2020, updated November 4, 2020
Fox12 staff, Ted Wheeler declared winner in Portland mayoral race over Sarah Iannarone, Fox12 Oregon, November 3, 2020
Nigel Jaquiss, Newcomer Mingus Mapps Sweeps Commissioner Chloe Eudaly From Office, Willamette Week, November 3, 2020
Jaquiss, Portland Voters Are Fed Up With Ted Wheeler. But Are They Ready for Sarah Iannarone?, Willamette Week, September 16, 2020
Jonathan V. Last, Finish the Fight, The Bulwark, November 4, 2020