Eight Quick Thoughts About the Election

Ah, the newsletter writer’s dilemma this week: I don’t really want to write about the election, and I doubt you’re all that excited to read more about it, but it’s not as if either of us can really think about anything else right now.

So I present to you: eight quick thoughts about the election. We will return to our regularly scheduled, ostensibly apolitical programming next week.


1.

I watched approximately 100 hours of CNN this week and even though I stopped on Thursday I still feel like my brain is rotting. It’s horrifying to realize how many people watch this stuff regularly. Liberals like to complain about Fox, but if Fox is junk food, CNN and MSNBC are those pseudo-healthy snacks like veggie straws or Terra chips. Sure, they might be slightly better for you, but you probably still shouldn’t be eating them all the time.

2.

During the primaries, I had serious doubts about Biden’s electability. Until now, there hadn’t been a single election I was old enough to follow in which a Democrat chosen for their perceived “electability” actually got elected. I saw Biden as old, uninspiring, and a decades-long D.C. insider just four years after an election that saw the ultimate outsider swept into power on a wave of anti-establishment energy. Not to mention the fact that Biden’s two previous runs hadn’t exactly set the world on fire.

Turns out I was wrong. Who knows how much of this was due to the changes wrought by covid, but Biden was the right candidate for the moment. I remain a massive Elizabeth Warren stan and continue to believe she would have been the best of the bunch at the actual job of being President, but watching how this election played out, I think she probably would have lost.

3.

If the data we have so far can be believed (and that’s a big if), Donald Trump got more minority support in this election than any Republican candidate since Nixon. This is starting to make me wonder if white liberals like myself have been making some assumptions about race that aren’t always shared by actual minorities in this country.

4.

No one knows how to mourn a victory like liberals. I’m also disappointed we (probably) didn’t take the Senate. But if you’d shown me this electoral map a year ago, I would have been thrilled.

5.

I’m pretty sure there’s only one reason Georgia is blue and North Carolina isn’t: Stacey Abrams. She’s single-handedly making me reconsider my skepticism of the “Great man” theory of history.

6.

It drives me absolutely crazy when I hear someone ask that ever-present question about why poor people vote against their own supposed self-interest—no one asks the same thing about rich liberals voting for higher taxes! Poor people also have the right to define their self-interest in terms that aren’t purely financial.

7.

Here’s something I think about often: the citizens of what we now call the Late Roman Republic had no idea they were living through their polity’s last days.

8.

This election saw all-time high turnout for our all-time most authoritarian Presidential candidate. I still can’t decide if that’s a good sign for democracy or a bad one.

Yours in epistemological uncertainty,

Max


Read of the week. And now for something completely unrelated to politics: this interactive NYT piece about painter Albrecht Dürer’s pioneering self-portraits in the 1500s. Who would have thought ten years ago that by 2020 the New York Times would be doing some of the best interaction design on the web?