Now for a actuality test. We’re probably crusing into some highly effective storms, with daunting prospects for each events and for the well being of the physique politic.
First, think about you’re a mainstream Republican (assuming there are any left) with hopes of taking again the White Home. You’ve watched Trump efficiently get his selections nominated to excessive workplace, solely to see most of them go all the way down to defeat. You need your get together to “transfer on” — that Ron DeSantis landslide in Florida was the spotlight of your election night time — however you additionally know that Trump continues to be the favourite of your get together’s base, and that he’s about to announce for president once more. And when you could not say this aloud, you understand that if Trump is one way or the other denied the 2024 nomination, he’ll angrily denounce the “rigged” consequence and do all he can to undermine the get together within the common election.
Now think about you’re Kevin McCarthy, on the cusp of lastly realizing your yearslong hope for the speakership. You’ll probably be coping with a Republican majority in single digits — and a few of these Home members have already expressed lower than full-throated assist in your reign. With a paper-thin majority, you’ll be on the mercy of probably the most excessive parts of your get together, together with all-out propeller heads like Marjorie Taylor Greene. You’ve already sought to appease your members, however what is going to the price of that be subsequent yr? Impeaching the president is the least of it. When your majority decides to dam a increase within the debt ceiling until there are large cuts to Social Safety and Medicare, you’ll both be main that cost or risking your speakership. Are you ready to default on the nation’s credit score obligations and probably spark a world monetary disaster? The dominant MAGA wing of your get together appears totally ready to take action.
Democrats don’t get off straightforward both. Have a look at the opposite finish of Pennsylvania Avenue. Proper now, the White Home is in victory lap temper, arguing that Biden’s much-derided warnings about democracy had actual political impression. However there are two disagreeable info that ought to dampen enthusiasm.
First, the prospect for any substantive achievements within the subsequent two years are nil. Biden will likely be dealing with a Republican Home in full MAGA pressure (the place dozens of election deniers have been returned or elected to workplace). In a chamber the place an enormous majority of Republicans say Biden is an illegitimate president, the prospects for any cooperation, together with avoiding a monetary meltdown, are marginal at finest. Throw in decided opposition to the whole lot from help to Ukraine to Covid responses, and the impression of a GOP majority on the mercy of its most zealous parts is (to borrow from Sen. Susan Collins) regarding.
Second, take a look at this discovering from the exit polls: Greater than two-thirds of voters, together with a major majority of Democrats, do NOT need Biden to run once more.
This isn’t merely a matter of low approval scores; presidents can get better from unhealthy numbers. However there’s one other looming quantity that may’t be modified: the quantity “8.” On Nov. 20, Biden will likely be 80 years outdated. We’ve got by no means had a president, nor a presidential candidate, working within the ninth decade of life. Perhaps 80 is the brand new 60 — Iowans, in spite of everything, simply despatched 89-year-old Chuck Grassley again to the Senate — however it’s a key purpose why so many in Biden’s personal get together need a completely different candidate. That need, in flip, results in extra questions. Historical past means that if Biden doesn’t run, his vp is the logical successor. (In reality, each Democratic vp since Alben Barkley has ultimately develop into the get together’s nominee). However Kamala Harris’ efficiency as a presidential candidate in 2020 didn’t engender confidence in her strengths as a high of the ticket nominee. But turning away from Harris would possibly alienate Black Democratic girls, the only most loyal factor of the get together.
What we face, in sum, is a post-midterm political setting that guarantees migraine-inducing dilemmas for each events, and a local weather during which once-unthinkable coverage penalties seem uncomfortably near actuality.