by Andy Schmookler
I do a weekly radio show to discuss politics on the most powerful AM station in Harrisonburg, Virginia, which is a university town in the middle of rural Virginia Trump country. (I’ve been on that station since 1992— formerly in a much bigger way.) This was the show that would discuss the election that just happened, and that we remain in the midst of.
If you want to go straight to the show, here’s the link.
Here’s some background that might give you a reason to be interested. I’ve been doing these shows monthly for years. And this is the very first time I’ve thought the podcast of the show should be shared with this audience.
So I offer you this with my recommendation. I feel that I got to express a lot that was important to me, and that might feel the same for you.
This election night experience joins for me a set of major painful and traumatic experiences of losing. 2016 was the worst of them, but 2004 was just about as bad— it changed the course of my life. And 2000 was a big deal, too.
(So painful. And over this past year, I’ve truly wondered if I would have the strength of spirit to endure it if Trump got re-elected.)
But now here we are: the darkness of last night, a muted brightness coming at dawn.
Last night I began to absorb the possibility that this might be 2016 all over again, but worse — perhaps destroying American democracy for good. It looked like it might be yet another trauma inflicted on so many people who already have some PTSD from when the unthinkable — a man like Donald Trump being elected President of the United States— first became our world.
But then came the dawn. And for the radio show and now I saw it as at least probable that Joe Biden will emerge from all this as the winner.
(At least IF this election gets decided the way the law and the Constitution require— which remains a big IF as we enter a phase where Donald Trump pulls out all the stops — attacking the Constitutional Order of the United States in the form of a legitimate election — to hold onto power. A big IF.)
(Will do anything because he cannot stand to lose, because he has no respect for any moral or legal restraints, and because he understands he may need to stay in power in order to stay out of jail.)
If it proves true, in the days ahead, that the American people combined with the American constitutional framework can take the powers of the presidency out of Donald Trump’s hands and into the hands of Joe Biden, that would be a really big deal. And it could be a transformative deal.
(But that will be much harder than I hoped it would be. I do not generally pray, but I’ve been praying for something that now we know we will not get: I prayed for a blowout, for a landslide. I prayed, in other words, for the Voice of the American People to speak powerfully and in no uncertain terms that we Americans will not tolerate something like a President abusing his office the way this one does on a daily basis.)
Blowout or not, the Presidency has significant tools. So the question arises: what would be the best way for a President Biden — without a Democratic Senate — to perform the Presidency in order to move the nation out of the ugly mess we’re in now toward a better, healthier, wiser, more caring, more honest, more responsible, more decent, more well-ordered America?
How can he deal with the Republicans in Congress in order to best compel them to act more in the interests of the nation and rather than obstruct him across the board, as they so indefensibly did to Obama?
How can he address the nation so as to fulfill his campaign pledge to bring us together? Which means in particular, how can he play the role of President in such a way as to awaken some of those in Trump’s base to the better angels of their nature?
It was with all those things in my mind that I got onto that radio program, in Virginia’s red Shenandoah Valley, to speak my truth about this election, as honestly and as effectively as I’m able.
(It’s a 2:1 Republican areas in which I accordingly lost as the Democratic nominee for Congress in 2012, running against the mendacious Republican Party hack Bob Goodlatte, who stayed on to protect Donald Trump as Republican Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.)
Here is where that radio show can be heard. (The host is an old-style normal moderate Republican who sees Trump for what he is; my “counterpart” in this ostensibly point-counter-point mode is a Libertarian who gets into trouble all the time on the right because he insists on integrity. Because of his honesty and integrity, in our shows we agree more than we disagree.)