Today is a good day for America. Donald Trump has been badly weakened. Moderate Democrats will soon be in power in Washington. And our democratic institutions will survive a difficult stress test.
The victory of Rev. Rafael Warnock and the apparent victory of Jon Ossoff in the Georgia U.S. Senate races means that our left-center president-elect will have narrow control of both houses of congress. This means that his judicial nominees should be approved and that, if given the chance, a Supreme Court nominee would also be confirmed.
But this does not mean that proposals like the Green New Deal or Medicare for all have any more chance of passage than they did on Tuesday morning. The most powerful people in congress will now be moderates like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and, in fact, Warnock and Ossoff themselves. Georgia may be moving left, but it hasn’t moved all the way out to California.
It was especially impressive to hear Senator-Elect Warnock this morning on NBC. The pastor of Martin Luther King’s church talked about the importance of “government programs and personal responsibility.” That short phrase, which likely will garner little to no attention, is actually extremely important. The words “personal responsibility” are almost never spoken by Democrats these days. The left pounces on them as racist code words and, in fact, in some cases they are used in that way.
But no one can question Warnock’s credentials. When he talks about personal responsibility combined with community action he is unassailable. If Warnock can rehabilitate that phrase and deweaponize it in his party, he will be pulling the Democrats a long way toward winning in more places than they do right now.
Maybe just as important is how badly these two apparent losses will damage the Trump brand. Those Republicans who clearly never liked Trump are finally starting to show a little more backbone. The Georgia defeats will surely further embolden them. Even before Tuesday, former House Speaker Paul Ryan blasted attempts by his former colleagues to undermine democracy. Even Mitch McConnell discouraged the shameful move by Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and a dozen others to object to today’s procedural acceptance of the Electoral College votes.
And that move will fail. Sure, it’s outrageous that it is even being attempted, but it will show that our system, battered though it is by Trump and his minions, is resilient.
We have come through a dark four years and so in some ways it’s fitting that it ends with one last piece of outrageousness. But from here on things will improve rapidly. A sensible and decent new president has been strengthened, the worst president America has ever endured has been weakened and the most powerful people in the Democratic Party are left-center moderates.