Election Takeaways MSNBC Won't Tell You

Election Takeaways MSNBC Won't Tell You
Wikimedia Commons, photo by Michael Vadon

Not hating on MSNBC, but come on, man.  None of the mainstreams are going to tell you any of the following, all of which is just stating what happened with a little exposition on why.

The topline that everyone knows is that there was no “red wave”—Republicans underperformed in general and Democrats overperformed in general.  But if that’s the insight you take away then you’ve learned nothing.

First, Gen Z was decisive.

Something like 27% of voters under 30 turned out, overwhelmingly for Dems, obviously. If the “youth vote” rocked lackadaisically like normal, Republicans would’ve won in a lot of close races and the red wave would’ve happened.

Second, the Left killed it. The social democratic bloc has grown to 11 seats now, because the Justice Democrats have good strategy. Seriously, if you get all your news from CNN and MSNBC, you might not have even heard of Justice Dems, but I’ve been telling people for years they’re running the epitome of good strategy—they’re primarying centrist Democrats occupying safe blue congressional seats and running on progressive policies that respond to problems the world is facing that normie politicians have no answer for. That’s why they’ve been growing every election since 2016—they really are checking all the boxes of good strategy (clear goals, a causal wager/guiding policy, proportionality between ends and means, coordinated action, a realistic diagnosis, vision-goals congruence, risk awareness).

Third, progressives overperformed but centrists did NOT overperform. Centrists did ok. But Tim Ryan, Trudy Busch Valentine, Elaine Luria, and several other liberals who decided to race-bait on China and were basically warmongering xenophobes got whipped. I called this many months ago:

There’s a major lesson here: politicizing China as villain rather than delivering progressive solutions is a reactionary move. Republicans who did jingoism on China performed fine…because anti-China shit is reactionary and serves their cause. But sane Americans are not going to buy a story about how China took all our jobs and gave us Covid and now they want to take over the world—especially not as a pathway to equality, democracy, or peace (which are normal people goals, not reactionary goals).

Fourth, the MAGA coalition did well enough that you should be worried. They won some key races, including Ron DeSantis in Florida and oligarch-funded hatemonger J.D. Vance in Ohio (partly because his Democratic opponent did the anti-China bullshit, mind you). But Trump turns out to be a loser and all the conservative elites now know it. Some are even saying it out loud. I mean, the Wallstreet Journal editorial board ran a headline that “Trump is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser.”

Especially if you’re a non-American ally in the foreign policy sense, you might be breathing a sigh of relief that Trump shit the bed. But at best you’ve got a stay of execution. Trumpism is the ideological core of the party now. DeSantis is a competent Trump, and incompetence was all that stood between us and an actual authoritarian takeover of America in the Trump years.

But worse than that, DeSantis is a guy who’s navigating between two cross-pressures that will get us all killed—nationalist militarism (the new strand of reactionary foreign policy I’ve written about before), and neoconservatism, which was way more awful than people remember. He’s not a tempered Trump—he’s the worst of Trump and Bush combined.

Finally, I’ve seen some early signs that Republicans—who are currently in chaos (love to see it)—realize that their platform of white supremacy and women don’t get to have rights wasn’t very popular. Go figure. This means that the MAGA coalition may focus on economic issues in 2024 rather than capital "I" identity politics. Racial and gender politics will still be at their core, but they’ll be sublimated within economic policy arguments. This is super dangerous for Dems because if reactionaries appear to get to their left on economic issues, the socialist-progressive-liberal coalition gets beat.

The MSNBC types who are talking about how Biden beat back the wave or that Republicans are imploding are not telling you what’s real. What’s real is that economic populism from the right—which offers no solutions and is fascist adjacent--is going to beat the Dems in 2024 if we learn the wrong lessons.

So rather than play for the mythical median voter, it turns out you don't necessarily need to run to the center. You don’t need to vilify China, or forsake trans people. You don’t need to disrespect peoples' preferred pronouns. You just need to get young people to the polls, represent your values, and at least gesture toward social democracy.