Election 2020: It’s not all bad

Americans of nearly every political persuasion who can take the long view should be able to find something positive in the 2020 election, no matter the outcome.

That’s a tall order. What if your side loses?

It depends.

If Donald Trump loses, his supporters will be on the outside looking in. But maybe for only a while. 

There’s nothing in the Constitution to prevent Trump from running again, say, in 2024. Grover Cleveland won the presidency in 1884 and served for four years. He then lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888. But he ran again in 1892 and won, so he served two terms as president even though they weren’t consecutive. He was our 22nd and 24th president.

Trump enjoys a base almost religiously devoted to him personally. If he loses to Joe Biden this year, he and his base will have four years to bash the Biden administration, with help from Fox News and his social media network.

Who knows what the next four years will bring in the supercharged environment of modern politics? The times may be right by 2024 for a Trumpian comeback. It’s happened before.

If Joe Biden loses, his supporters will have to bide their time for another four-year cycle.

But Democrats are unlikely to lose the House of Representatives, and have a better-than-even chance, according to most polls, of picking up the Senate as well. We’ve seen in the recent past how hamstrung a president can be with a Congress controlled by the opposite party. 

And Democrats have demographics and science on their side, as well as a world that’s increasingly interdependent. 

Democrats have gained support in all regions of the country — the South, the Southwest, the Rust Belt. Even Texas. They may not yet be strong enough to win across the board, but the polls are moving in their direction. I see nothing on the horizon to counter that trend over the next decade.

What about Never-Trumper Republicans? The moderates, the classic Old Guard, and the small-government libertarian folks?

They’ve all wandered in the wilderness the past four years while Trump took control of their party. 

If Biden wins, they can with considerable logic say, “We told you so.” There’s a sizable bloc of Americans, in both parties, who are socially liberal, economically conservative, strong on local control, benevolent and inclusive toward their fellow countrymen, and fervently hunger for deft and thoughtful governing.

If Trump wins, the conditions are there for a realignment of politics, with moderates of both parties meeting in the political center.

Probably not in a new formal political party, but in a voting bloc that could control the legislative agenda. Neither party could afford to alienate them.

From 1876 until the 1960s, a bloc of Republicans and conservative Southern Democrats pretty well dominated American politics, at least enough to prevent wild swings in the nation’s direction. The United States has undergone revolutionary changes since then, and it’s not hard to envision a bipartisan bloc holding sway again, this time encouraging political moderation.

And nearly everyone is repelled by political violence.

If any takes place either before Nov. 3 or afterward, I look for it to be stamped out promptly. We’re not that kind of country.

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