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For interracial couples, Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff are a 'monumental' symbol

By Sydney Trent
For interracial couples, Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff are a 'monumental' symbol
Sen. Kamala Harris leans on husband Doug Emhoff after being introduced by Joe Biden as his running mate during an event in Wilmington, Del., on Aug. 12, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Toni L. Sandys.

At tourist sites, masking up without diluting the experience

By Vicky Hallett
At tourist sites, masking up without diluting the experience
Reenactor Veia Brown speaks to visitors at Colonial Williamsburg's reopening in Williamsburg, Va. MUST CREDIT: Colonial Williamsburg

Doctors and nurses want more data before championing vaccines to end the pandemic

By Christopher Rowland
Doctors and nurses want more data before championing vaccines to end the pandemic
Jeffrey A. Hirschfield, a pediatrician in St. Petersburg, Fla., has shared his reservations about a coronavirus vaccine on Twitter.

Pulitzer-winning opinion from the most respected voices in the world.

Trump came in promising so much winning. He's going out with so much whining.

By dana milbank
Trump came in promising so much winning. He's going out with so much whining.


Advance for release Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, and thereafter

(For Milbank clients and FOR PRINT USE ONLY)

By Dana Milbank

WASHINGTON -- It's all over but the pouting.

Back during the Florida recount in 2000, George W. Bush loyalists made T-shirts altering the Gore-Lieberman logo to say "Sore-Loserman." But "sore loser" doesn't do justice to the epic tantrum President Donald Trump has performed to assuage his narcissistic injury. Trump-Pence has become Rump-Nonsense.

Trump lost the 2020 election itself by more than 6 million votes, four percentage points, and an electoral vote margin his own team called "historic" and a "landslide" when he was the victor in 2016.

But that's just the beginning of the losing.

He has lost dozens of legal rulings in multiple states. He has failed in every single post-election ballot-counting challenge. Judges scold his lawyers: "like Frankenstein's Monster . . . haphazardly stitched together," "simply not how the Constitution works," "inadmissible hearsay within hearsay," "generalized speculation," "your submission is defective."

He's met defeat in various and sundry recounts and attempts to block certification of the results. Michigan's board of canvassers dealt him his latest drubbing Monday afternoon, voting 3-0 (with one Republican abstention) to certify Joe Biden's win. This followed Georgia's certification Friday.

Trump is losing his autocratic attempt to get state Republican officials to throw out the election results and instead appoint pro-Trump electors. Michigan Republican legislators summoned by Trump to the White House Friday poured cold water on the idea.

He's losing prominent Republican allies such as debate adviser Chris Christie, who called Trump's legal team's antics a "national embarrassment."

He's losing lawyers as they quit or get fired, including Sidney Powell, ousted Sunday after she alleged an election conspiracy involving "communist money," voting machines and Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez, who died in 2013.

And the president's chief lawyer appears to be losing his mind. Rudy Giuliani held one news conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, and another where something dark and oozy -- melting hair dye? -- trickled down his cheek.

Trump is losing so much we are sick and tired of his losing. We say, "Please, Mr. President, you can't lose anymore." And he says, "I'm sorry, but I'm going to keep losing, losing, losing."

What kind of a loser does this?

Perhaps one who faces all sorts of potential unpleasantness after he leaves office: bankruptcy, lawsuits and exposure of all the things he's been hiding from investigators. Or perhaps one who will be in a position to pay himself and his family with all the "recount" contributions he's raising from supporters.

There's no realistic possibility his attempt to overturn the election succeeds, but the clown coup still does damage by preventing the incoming Biden administration from getting up to speed on potential national security crises and vaccine distribution. And last-minute sabotage - another government shutdown, or vetoing a defense bill over Trump's insistence on keeping the names of bases named for Confederates - can't be ruled out.

Make America Gripe Again!

The latest court humiliation came in Pennsylvania on Saturday when a federal judge - a conservative appointed by President Barack Obama as part of a bipartisan compromise - scolded Trump's lawyers for seeking "to disenfranchise almost 7 million voters" on the basis of strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations.

This follows a case in which a Trump lawyer, in a lawsuit alleging observers didn't have access to vote counting, admitted there were "a nonzero number" of Trump observers in the room; a withdrawn lawsuit falsely alleging Sharpie markers invalidated votes; and copious instances in which testimony and affidavits by Trump poll observers failed to support election fraud charges.

GOP elections officials are moving on. Republicans in Georgia, Arizona's Maricopa County and elsewhere have proceeded with certification.

Influential Republicans, such as Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.) and big-time Trump donor Stephen Schwarzman are moving on, too. Former George W. Bush administration officials Tom Ridge, John Negroponte and Michael Hayden led a group of Republican national security experts Monday demanding Trump begin the transition. Even Fox News' Tucker Carlson scolded then-Trump-lawyer Powell because she "never demonstrated that a single actual vote was moved illegitimately."

Trump, for his part, is avoiding settings where he'd have to defend his nonsense tweets about fraud. He hasn't taken a single question from reporters since the election, The Post's Josh Dawsey reports, while playing golf more often than appearing in public.

Voters rejected his "Great American Comeback." The courts, elections officials and a growing number of Republicans reject his Great American Hijack. Now he looks like a Great American Sad Sack.

As Trump departed from a rare public event Friday without taking questions, CBS News' Weijia Jiang shouted after him: "Mr. President, are you being a sore loser?"

He came in promising so much winning, but he's leaving with so much whining.

- - -

Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.

Want to understand Biden voters? Here's a start.

By eugene robinson
Want to understand Biden voters? Here's a start.


Advance for release Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, and thereafter

(For Robinson clients and FOR PRINT USE ONLY)

By Eugene Robinson

WASHINGTON -- Who are they and what drove them to vote in such huge numbers, even during a pandemic? What makes them tick? Is it culture? Tribalism? Race? How did they come to their worldview, and why do they cling to it so passionately? What do they mean for the future of American democracy?

I'm talking about the opaque and inscrutable Joe Biden voter, of course.

After Donald Trump won in 2016, the media and academia embarked on a numbingly comprehensive sociological and anthropological examination of "the Trump voter." Reporters and researchers swarmed what seemed like every bereft factory town in the industrial Midwest, every hill and hollow of Appalachia, every windswept farming community throughout the Great Plains. I'm pretty sure television crews did, in fact, bring us reports from every single diner in the contiguous United States - at least, those where at least one regular patron wears overalls.

Never mind that nearly 3 million more of us voted against Trump four years ago; no one seemed terribly interested in our inner lives, our hopes and dreams. This time, however, the gap is too big to ignore - Biden, the president-elect, beat Trump by more than 6 million votes and counting. He won back the heartland of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. He won Georgia, for heaven's sake.

Logically, then, we should put aside those dog-eared copies of J.D. Vance's "Hillbilly Elegy" and subject "the Biden voter" to the same kind of microscopic scrutiny. Venture out of your bubble, Trump supporters, and try to understand how most of America thinks.

African Americans were Biden's most avid and loyal supporters, giving him 87 percent of their votes, according to exit polls. To understand the backstories of those Black voters in cities such as Milwaukee, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia - whom Trump is now trying his best to disenfranchise - you might start by reading "The Warmth of Other Suns." Isabel Wilkerson's magisterial opus charts the Great Migration in the first half of the 20th century, which brought millions of African Americans from the South to the industrial cities of the Northeast and Midwest.

If you're more of an audiovisual learner, scroll through your streaming service until you find one of the film adaptations of the seminal plays by the late August Wilson, who lived and wrote in Pittsburgh - "The Piano Lesson," say, or "Fences." (The most recent Wilson production, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" starring Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman, won't be available for streaming for another few weeks.) Alternatively, you could just listen to the transcendental music of the incomparable saxophonist John Coltrane, who was born in North Carolina and moved to Philadelphia as a teenager.

Biden lost overall among White voters, but his big gains among college-educated Whites who live in the prosperous suburbs of major cities nationwide may have been decisive. These voters, many of whom had benefited from Trump's tax cuts, seem to have simply been appalled at Trump's behavior in office.

To understand White suburbanites who were disgusted by Trump's naked racism - his reaction to Charlottesville, his refusal after the George Floyd killing to say the words "Black lives matter" - you might dive into scholar Ibram X. Kendi's "How to Be an Antiracist," which has become a must-read in many of those circles. To experience the pain and anger many suburban voters felt about Trump's policy of ripping children from the arms of their asylum-seeking parents along the southern border, I'd recommend "Separated: Inside an American Tragedy" by Jacob Soboroff, a correspondent for NBC News (where I am a frequent contributor).

Craving a mind-meld with those White voters whose driving impulse for choosing Biden may have been a more generalized horror at Trump's unfitness to serve as president, there are, of course, the mega-selling fly-on-the-wall accounts "Rage" and "Fear" by my longtime Post colleague Bob Woodward. For a slightly different perspective, the psychological portrait by the president's niece Mary L. Trump, "Too Much and Never Enough," is incisive and harrowing.

To supplement your reading, you could rewatch pretty much any episode of "Saturday Night Live" from the Trump era. And if you want to know what peak anti-Trump outrage sounds and feels like, John Oliver's HBO show "Last Week Tonight" takes you there and beyond.

If Trump supporters want to understand why Trump's margin of support declined, albeit just modestly, among voters 65 and older nationwide, they can visit any of the media websites that track the covid-19 pandemic. Imagine how many of these older voters will have to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas without seeing their grandchildren except via FaceTime or Zoom.

It turns out "the Biden voter" isn't so mysterious and unknowable after all. "I, too, am America," wrote the poet Langston Hughes. And if you haven't read him yet, add him to the pile, too.

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Eugene Robinson is on Twitter: @Eugene_Robinson

Families like this one were torn apart at the border. The U.S. still hasn't made things right.

By catherine rampell
Families like this one were torn apart at the border. The U.S. still hasn't made things right.


Advance for release Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, and thereafter

(For Rampell clients and FOR PRINT USE ONLY)

By Catherine Rampell

Leticia tells her story to anyone who will listen: judges, journalists, political officials. She recounts the moment she realized strangers had snatched her son while she slept in a migrant detention cell; and the agonizing month that followed, when no one would tell her where her child was or whether he was even alive.

Sharing this story is painful. But Leticia knows it would be more painful to still be living this experience, as hundreds of families still are. Because the U.S. government is, even today, separating families.

"For them I would tell my story over and over again," she says.

Before the country moves on, before a new administration and the public try to put this national atrocity in the rearview mirror: Leticia wants us all to remember. She wants us to provide what is owed to hundreds of children whose deported mothers and fathers still haven't been located, because the government didn't bother to keep records; and to the thousands more families who have been found, and in some cases reunited, but still fear for their lives.

Three years ago, Leticia and her son became victims of one of the largest-scale, ethnically motivated human rights abuses perpetrated by the U.S. government since Japanese internment. Today, they want to be advocates.

"I won't be calm or quiet until those parents can smile with their children," Leticia says. As for the U.S. officials responsible for this state-sanctioned child abuse: "Ultimately, we just want to hold them accountable so they can't do this in the future."

In November 2017, Leticia and her son Yovany, then 15 years old, fled gang threats and other violence in Guatemala. (The family spoke, through an interpreter, on the condition that The Washington Post not use their full names. They fear speaking publicly will lead to retaliation from U.S. immigration authorities and make it easier for gangs to find them.) When they left Guatemala, they had no idea what horrors awaited them in the United States. After all, by reputation, law and international treaty obligations, the United States is supposed to provide persecuted peoples the opportunity to seek asylum.

"When we crossed, we were actually a little happy. We were a little happy because we thought that the fear we felt had been left behind and that once we were in this country, they could no longer harm us. It was like logically, we were safe."

Instead, they were targeted by the Trump administration's El Paso "pilot" experiment to systematically separate parents from their children, a policy later expanded to the entire southern border. The goal, officials have said, was to make the process of seeking asylum - which is a legal right - so notoriously cruel that it would dissuade eligible families from even trying.

"A big name of the game is deterrence," then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told NPR.

A few hours after crossing the Rio Grande, Leticia and Yovany were detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents and told they could sleep for a while. She was taken to a room for women, he to one for males. When she woke, other detainees said her son had been taken away. They didn't know where. Panicked, Leticia began pounding on the locked door, demanding to see her boy.

A guard appeared, asking about the noise. She pleaded for her son. "I don't know where your son is, I don't know who your son is," she recalls him responding. "I'm just changing shifts."

For a month Leticia was in the dark. No one would tell her if Yovany had been detained elsewhere, deported or worse. Guards said it was her responsibility to locate him. They gave her a list of numbers for other detention centers, and she began calling around to see if one had her son.

Eventually, she learned that Yovany was in a shelter for unaccompanied children, and they were connected by phone. She urged him to eat and not to worry. She told Yovany she was fine - even though daily crying fits had partially paralyzed her face. As time passed, her hopes faded. During a hearing, an immigration judge said that without legal representation she had no chance of obtaining asylum, and she didn't know how to find a lawyer while still in detention. After seven months, she agreed to relinquish her asylum claim and be deported back to Guatemala; she hoped this would better position Yovany to be released from the shelter at least.

Leticia and Yovany agonized over whether he should go with her, given the death threats he faced back home. Ultimately, they decided he should stay and pursue his own asylum claim.

"He was a child. He had an entire life ahead of him, and he deserves to live," she recalls. "You have to choose: Your life or the life of your child."

Yovany was placed with a foster family, which arranged weekly phone calls between mother and son. They gave up on seeing each other again.

Several months after returning to Guatemala, Leticia began getting calls from strangers: lawyers, nonprofits or other volunteers trying to locate deported parents. She distrusted them and refused to talk. One day, however, a social worker showed up on her doorstep and convinced her that help was possible. Leticia was then connected with the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, which filed a motion to reopen her case.

The group also asked Yovany to write a letter to the government.

In early 2020, a judge found that Leticia had been coerced into giving up her asylum claim and ordered that she be allowed back into the United States. After more than two years, mother and child were reunited.

"It was almost like I was born again," she says. "I saw him enter. I thought, it was my son, it's my son! And at the same time I hugged him, but I knew that I had a lot of pain and fear that they would take him away. I was hugging him so hard, but I thought they would separate us again."

Of the several hundred parents deported without their kids, Leticia is among only about 20 who have been allowed back into the United States, according to Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer and the lead attorney in litigation over family separations. Most are believed to be in Central America. Of those who have been located, roughly one-third subsequently chose to have their children deported, too; the others opted to leave their children in the States. Like Leticia, they feared repatriation would prove fatal.

Today, Leticia and Yovany live in New York City. While they are relieved to be together - "being without her is like being a flower without water," Yovany says - anxiety over their separation persists.

"The pain, the lack of trust and the trauma doesn't go away. Even when he goes to school and maybe he takes a little bit longer to get home, I get extremely nervous."

She aches, too, for the parents still unable to see their children, including some being newly separated even today.

There are multiple barriers to reunification. The Trump administration didn't track all the families, and what records it did keep are poor; as a result, the deported parents of 666 children - about 20% of whom were younger than 5 when separated - haven't even been located. The government isn't actively searching for these "missing" parents. Instead, Justice in Motion, a nonprofit that's part of an ACLU-organized steering committee, has dispatched contacts across remote and sometimes dangerous places to find them. The committee is paying for these search efforts itself.

Traumatized parents may not trust those making contact, as Leticia can attest. She argues that parents already reunited should participate in these efforts to connect families.

"They say, 'What are they calling me for? Are you calling me to deport my child? Or are they calling me to put me back in detention?'" she explains. "We can be like a reflection for those parents and say, 'See, I was separated, but now I am reunited, and we want to help.' "

Even when deported parents are located, there is usually little to offer them.

Advocates are mostly "trying to confirm that each child knows where their parent is, and each parent knows where their child is," says Christie Turner-Herbas, director of special programs at Kids in Need of Defense. Then, deported parents are offered the unbearable choice between having their children deported to unsafe conditions, or remaining apart. Having a "more substantive remedy," she argues, would help get the word out.

What kind of remedy? Mental health services are a good start. (The White House tried to block a deal paying for therapy for separated families, NBC recently reported, but a judge ordered it anyway.) So is some sort of broader financial restitution, perhaps through a victims' fund. There are already multiple lawsuits seeking recourse on behalf of families; at least 500 individuals, including Leticia, have also filed for monetary damages. Leticia's lawyers at the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project say the government has not responded to her administrative complaint, filed in June 2019.

Leticia argues such recourse is necessary to help injured families and to hold the government accountable:

Perhaps more important than money is lawful status in the United States, where families can be safe.

Anita Sinha, director of American University's International Human Rights Law Clinic, recently visited Honduras to help separated families document claims for monetary damages. When families realized the purpose of the visit - and that they had no hope of receiving asylum - some almost walked out. "No amount of money could help," she says.

Even those already in the States - including families whose deportations a court temporarily blocked in 2018 - are not secure.

"I think a lot of people don't realize that the Trump administration is still trying to deport these families, either the child alone or once reunited," says Gelernt. "So the trauma from the separations exists. But on top of that, there's the trauma of fighting for your life not to be sent back to danger."

Victims like Leticia are still waiting for their asylum cases to be adjudicated. The Trump administration has severely restricted asylum eligibility, making it less likely such cases will succeed. Advocates argue that the incoming Biden administration should not only roll back Trump's asylum policies but also secure separated families a faster path to residency.

President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to create a task force for separated families. His transition team did not respond to questions about whether deported families should be allowed back in the United States and whether Biden supports residency or other forms of redress for these victims.

If Leticia could speak to Biden, she would ask him to pursue more humane immigration policies and to "make amends for [past] mistakes."

As for the rest of the country, her request is simple: Keep listening, but stop making it necessary for her to speak.

- - -

Catherine Rampell's email address is Follow her on Twitter, @crampell.

The Democratic coalition is built for civil wars. Now can the party make peace?

By e.j. dionne jr.
The Democratic coalition is built for civil wars. Now can the party make peace?


SPECIAL COLUMN for release Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, and thereafter

(For Dionne clients and FOR PRINT USE ONLY)

By E.J. Dionne Jr.

WASHINGTON -- Democrats can drive you crazy. Joe Biden won the presidency by a decisive majority, ousting a dangerous incumbent loathed across his party. In the streets of Democratic cities, there was jubilation. Yet just two days after the election, House Democrats fell into angry recriminations. Moderates blamed lefties for ideas and slogans that Republicans deployed against them. "We need to not ever use the word 'socialist' or 'socialism' ever again," Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., told her colleagues during an angry conference call. "We lost good members because of that." Lefties, meanwhile, criticized moderates for running bad campaigns and failing to appreciate the energy the left generates. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told the New York Times that "not a single one of these [moderate] campaigns were firing on all cylinders."

Compare that with the Republican Party, which was almost entirely complicit with President Donald Trump's insane and democracy-wrecking claim that he won the election.

After a masterful presidential campaign that brought together every wing of Biden's party, our politics seemed to snap back instantly to old habits and an old rule: Republicans fight Democrats while Democrats battle each other. These contrasting behaviors reflect a simple fact: Democrats are a big-tent party, while Republicans are a closed circle. For more than a half-century, Republicans have purged dissenters and turned themselves into a rigid, radical, unified bloc -- ideologically, racially, religiously. As the Republicans cast off free-thinkers, Democrats took them in.

This makes Democrats the larger party with better long-term prospects. But it also means that Biden's party is at risk of either pushing away the middle-of-the-road voters it needs to hold its majority or disillusioning the progressives who often power its apparatus, especially in urban centers. And Democrats must also struggle in a political system that - especially through the Senate and the electoral college -- artificially tilts the playing field toward the GOP. Although Democrats ruefully invoke the old Will Rogers joke ("I am not a member of any organized political party -- I am a Democrat"), their struggles are not a product of some psychological peculiarity. History has made them what they are, and they have to learn to live with it if they want to win and govern.

The conundrum goes back to the 1960s, and not just the '60s of the counterculture, civil rights and antiwar protests. The movements for Black, women's and LGBTQ rights had a decisive impact on our country socially, and they continue to play an important role in the Democratic Party. But there was another 1960s, embodied in the rise of the conservative intellectual movement, Barry Goldwater's 1964 campaign, the backlash against civil rights and a New Right. The revolt on the right had a decisive impact on our party system.

The long-term effect of Goldwater's takeover of the GOP was a series of purges. They started with the liberals (senators such as Jacob Javits, Clifford Case and Tom Kuchel). The party then drove out moderates and eventually moved to cast away even genuine conservatives (Sen. Bob Bennett and then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor among them) whom activists charged with the unforgivable sin of squishiness. As Republicans became ideologically pure, they also became racially and religiously homogeneous.

This churn had overlapping effects. Many voters who would once have been moderate Republicans have been moving steadily Democratic since the 1990s -- culminating, for example, in Biden's sweep of suburbs outside places like Philadelphia and Boston, which were once moderate Republican heartlands, and even in the more conservative-leaning suburbs around Atlanta and Phoenix.

After the passage of the Civil Rights Act (which Lyndon Johnson pushed through and Goldwater opposed), African Americans, who had been shifting toward the Democrats since the New Deal, consolidated as the party's most reliable constituency. The counter movement of conservative Southern Democrats toward the Republicans, in turn, strengthened the GOP's right wing. And Trump's success in winning over Whites without college degrees in 2016 sharpened the Democrats' internal debates over the relative priority of mobilizing base voters or persuading defectors. Biden did enough of both to win significant popular-vote and Electoral College majorities, but the margins in swing states were close, and Trump's 2020 mobilization of his own voters tipped more than a half-dozen House races in red territory his party's way.

Far from stopping the rightward radicalization of the GOP, what happened this year may only reinforce the trend. This means many debates that once took place between the parties -- about, say, the appropriate size of the welfare state, the proper role of economic regulation or the right way to protect the environment -- are being held almost entirely within the Democratic Party.

Imagine that the United States had a multiparty system with proportional representation, as many European democracies do. A government led by Democrats would amount to a coalition involving a left party, a broad center-left party with roots in a once-thriving labor movement, a socially liberal middle-class party, a Green party and perhaps a civil rights party. Coalitions of this sort are not unknown -- progressive parties in Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal have governed successfully with such alliances -- but holding all the pieces together requires the patience of Job and the canniness of Machiavelli.

Although a proportional system might fracture the right to some degree - one could imagine the formation of separate pro-business, socially conservative and right-wing nationalist parties -- the Republicans are, basically, one big conservative party. Its constituencies give each other what they need. Economic conservatives live with appeals to religious conservatives, nationalists and even the fringe right in exchange for tax cuts and deregulation. All sides want conservative judges to foil possible future progressive advances. With the moderates in their ranks purged, they are united in fearing the liberal (or "socialist") enemy far more than they worry about each other. This approach was not enough to reelect Trump, but it allowed the GOP to hold its own in Senate races and (often gerrymandered) House districts.

The 2020 election perfectly captured the distinction between Democratic diversity and Republican homogeneity. Biden's coalition was a little bit of everybody -- self-described liberals (they constituted 42% of his voters), moderates (48%) and conservatives (10%), according to the network exit poll conducted by Edison Research. In other words, contrary to Trump's claim that Biden is a tool for raging leftists, a majority of his electorate was non-liberal. By contrast, Trump voters were 68% conservative, 27% moderate and 5% liberal.

Racially, 53% of Biden's voters were White, but 82% of Trump's were; 21% of Biden's were Black, but only 3% of Trump's were. And for all the focus on Trump's gains among Latinos in South Florida and South Texas, the Hispanic vote is still crucial for Democrats: 16% of Biden's voters were Latino, compared with 9% of Trump's. The contrast is especially striking when race and religion are looked at in tandem: 67% of Trump's voters were White Christians; only 30% of Biden's were.

In the short term, Democrats clearly have a coalition-management challenge: Big-tent politics requires a lot of work and leads to inevitable bickering. But over the long run, Republicans are confronting decline, not only because the Democrats' diversity better reflects the country, both now and in the future, but also because the GOP's coalition is aging. Among Trump's voters, 65% were 45 or older; only 56% of Biden's were - and Biden captured voters under 30 by a better than 3-to-2 margin. In fact, the only thing that has saved Republicans in presidential elections over the past three decades is an electoral college that privileges White and conservative voters. The GOP has won the popular vote in only one of the past eight elections. Republicans took heart in their gains among Latinos, but the Hispanic vote was nonetheless key to Biden's success in Arizona and Nevada - and to the Democrats' ongoing advantage in California, New Mexico and elsewhere.

Still, 2020 did not bring about the larger-scale realignment that the Democrats hoped for (and that was mistakenly forecast by many polls). To nurture that possibility, Biden and the Democrats must find their inner Job, with a little help from Machiavelli.

For starters, each camp within the party can acknowledge the truth of what their internal rivals say. The left is right that it provides a lot of energy, especially among young voters and in the urban areas that turned out big for Biden. But the moderates are right that, to win power, the party needs middle-of-the-road voters, particularly from swing districts. This may produce more cautious officeholders, but they are essential to building a congressional majority.

Progressives are right that the quest for racial justice should not be compromised - and is, in fact, an electoral asset. (After all, 85% of Biden voters told the exit pollsters that the criminal justice system treats Blacks unfairly.) But moderates are right that slogans like "Defund the police" can bring down moderate lawmakers, such as Staten Island's defeated Rep. Max Rose. Here's a rule for the future: Any slogan that requires five minutes to explain what it really means is not a good slogan.

And while the word "socialist" appeals to younger progressives who associate it with the social and economic successes of Sweden, Norway or Denmark, it carries a lot of baggage for older voters who remember the Soviet Union, and for those whose families fled repressive Communist regimes, including Cuban- and Vietnamese-Americans.

The Democratic coalition can hang together only if its members accept this ground-level truth: that for all their quarrels, they want to move the country in the same direction (as I argued earlier this year in my book "Code Red"), and they want to defeat the radicalized GOP. Biden convinced both sides that they wanted the same thing by crafting a platform that appealed to moderates and the left alike: decent, affordable health insurance for every American (79% of his voters supported the Affordable Care Act); ambitious programs to combat climate change (which 90% of Biden voters saw as a serious problem); and a promise to dial back economic inequality through large investments in infrastructure, child care and education.

Oh yes, and they all support big steps to contain the pandemic (a priority for 80% of his voters) and to get the economy moving. They'll be judged collectively on whether they succeed at these core missions.

Georgia's impending Senate runoffs will provide the ultimate test of strength between the mobilizing power of the Democrats' big tent and the solidarity of the Republicans' closed circle. The politics of diversity and a whole lot of voter registration helped Democrats convert Georgia from a Republican bastion into a battleground. So did the Biden's carefully calibrated appeal to all wings of the party's coalition. Control of the Senate and Biden's ability to enact his larger program depend on his party's ability to hang together and make Will Rogers's quip a quaintly amusing piece of history.

- - -

E.J. Dionne is on Twitter: @EJDionne.

He had a dream

By gene weingarten
He had a dream


(Advance for Sunday Nov. 29, 2020, and thereafter.)

(For Weingarten clients and FOR PRINT USE ONLY)

By Gene Weingarten

WASHINGTON -- There is a rough consensus among political journalists that Donald Trump's second term, had he had one, would have been absolutely nutso: that in his lame-duck years, he would have been freed to do whatever he wanted, limited only by his innate sense of proportion and decency, ha-ha. Here are some thoughts on where he might have gone.

Dr. Fauci demoted to hospital candy striper.

All persons wearing masks will be presumed to be bank robbers and shot on sight.

Kushner is named to all Cabinet positions, as well as surgeon general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Fox News is seized by the government for its drift to the left and renamed Foxier News, featuring Hope Hicks and Ivanka.

Norway becomes the 51st state.

Two walls are built to separate both coasts from "real America."

The Education Department orders all schools to stop giving tests so that fewer American kids will be dumb.

The Food and Drug Administration declares that all steaks must be cooked to the consistency of the heel of a man's shoe. Also, hamburgers are now, officially, hamberders.

No more taco trucks. Only trucks serving lard sandwiches on Wonder Bread.

Backyard fracking becomes a thing.

Census now requires women to rate themselves on a scale of 1-10.

Using his executive powers, Trump "hereby decrees" that he has completed the first all-hole-in-one round of golf in history at Mar-a-Lago, including that tricky par 5 on the back nine.

Nothing is sacred anymore. All rules of decency are suspended. Pence is seen having lunch alone with Deborah Birx.

Einstein visas are eliminated, replaced with Miss Universe visas.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology recalibrates weights and measures so Trump is 7-foot-4 and 140 pounds.

"Covfefe" is included in every dictionary. It refers in general to "the intrinsic badness of Mexicans."

Muslims can pray, but they can't face Mecca; they have to face the White House.

New presidential proclamation: "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. Also, there will be FOUR minutes of Hate per day."

(BEG ITAL)Thanks to: Kathleen Giotta Delano, Valerie Holt, Lee Graham, Arthur Adams, Warren Uhler, Frank Kohn, Roger Dalrymple, Robyn Carlson, Julianne Berkon Weiner, Tom Logan and Thor Rudebeck.(END ITAL)

Gene Weingarten can be reached at Follow him on Twitter, @geneweingarten. Chat with him online Tuesdays at noon Eastern at

(c) 2020, Washington Post Writers Group

America had every advantage in fighting the virus - and blew it

By megan mcardle
America had every advantage in fighting the virus - and blew it


Advance for release Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, and thereafter

(For McArdle clients and FOR PRINT USE ONLY)

By Megan McArdle

WASHINGTON -- Do you even know what 250,000 people looks like? Because I don't. I have been trying to imagine it, and failing.

The closest I can get is imagining something I have seen: Yankee Stadium, filled to capacity with a World Series crowd -- multiplied by five. Then comes the hard part: I imagine all of them locked into the stadium and dying, mostly alone and terrified, of heart attacks or strokes or kidney failure or slow suffocation, while their families wait weeping in the parking lot.

And then I imagine that happening on a livestream so the country can witness the horror. That's what it would look like if you could see all the Americans who have died of covid-19 since last March.

I can tell myself that everyone dies, which is unhelpful. I can tell myself that the great majority of the victims are old and many would have died of something else relatively soon - but then again, many wouldn't, and I personally don't think of the last decade or so of life as a sort of useless appendix.

More usefully, I can tell myself that there was probably never a window when we could have completely controlled this virus. By the time we knew it was a problem, it was already here, silently circulating. I can look at the death rates in places such as Italy and console myself that it could have been worse.

But that's not much consolation, because we should have done so much better.

Back in the spring, I listed many ways that the United States was uniquely well-positioned to fight this virus. Americans generally demand a lot more personal space than people in other countries; we stand farther apart, our houses are bigger and our public spaces tend to be larger and better ventilated than those in Europe. We drive rather than taking mass transit. We are richer and can afford to spend more on virus-proofing our homes and businesses - or paying for the ones that can't be virus-proofed to be closed until the pandemic ended. We have more intensive care beds per capita, more equipment and more pricey specialists than almost anywhere else. We have a fantastically innovative biotech sector.

Two major American assets I didn't list, and should have, were weather and time. America's weather was more favorable to fighting covid-19 because more of our landmass falls in southern latitudes where it's comfortable, for most of the year, to spend time outside. Moreover, we had time to figure all that out, because Europe got hit hard first, giving us a valuable preview of horrors to come. That bought us priceless extra days - only we squandered them and every other advantage we started with.

Sure, America doesn't have the absolute worst death rate in the industrialized world - not yet, anyway. I'm not sure we'll be able to say that after Americans celebrate our extra fall holiday, then leap from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Either way, we'll still be doing much worse than we could have - and much worse than we should have. And I mean all of us, not just President Trump.

Yes, Trump was by far the worst bungler in this whole affair. But there is plenty of blame to go around: the public health folks who told us not to wear masks; the politicians who didn't pass enough stimulus; the skeptics who refused to revise their skepticism when new evidence emerged; the refuseniks who treated their own noncompliance as proof that distancing measures can't work; anyone who treated a forecasting model as a proven fact; everyone who blessed some gatherings while condemning others; the Republicans who humored Trump; the teacher unions and governments that pushed unnecessary, damaging school closures; everyone, left or right, who turned this into a political battle with their fellow Americans, rather than a desperate fight our country needed to unite to win.

I include myself in that number. I think of all the times I lost my temper with covid skeptics, even though I knew it was counterproductive, and I regret every one of them. I look back at my columns and wonder if I should have advocated for less intrusive policies that might have garnered broader support, or if I would have convinced more people if I'd evinced a little more humility in my conviction that America needed to take radical action immediately. I'll never know, of course, but I'll always wonder: How many people could we have saved if everyone, from the president on down, had acted as if saving American lives from a deadly virus was the most important thing we had to do this year? How many stadium seats could we have filled with the people who didn't have to die?

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Follow Megan McArdle on Twitter, @asymmetricinfo.

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