Beyond post-November 2nd media hysteria—join the psychohistory salon, Sunday (4/7), 1 PM

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Brian D'Agostino

Nov 4, 2021, 7:17:50 AM11/4/21
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Let me say a few words about the recent US off-year elections.  We can discuss this by email on this list, but I also encourage you to join with other psychohistorians this Sunday for a live discussion in the monthly IPA virtual “salon,” 1 PM EST.  Scroll to the end for the GoToMeeting link below.

The dominant narrative in the corporate controlled media in the US, it seems to me, is that the Democratic Party is now in an existential crisis.  Van Jones called it a “Five Alarm Fire” for the Democrats.  All of this seems more than a little hysterical to me.  Veteran psychohistorians may wonder if this indicates a group fantasy.  I would agree with that assessment, but my response will not be to “put the world on a couch,” which is to go from one group fantasy to another, namely the notion that the entire world (or even a single country)--which is riven with conflict on many levels and is fragmented into myriad balkanized publics--can be productively thought about as a single mind.  Rather, I will just undertake to show that the existential crisis narrative is disconnected from reality.  (For a more thoughtful take on November 2, see "These are the people who made history on election night:" )

Let me hasten to add, that the United States as a whole, as a democratic enterprise, may well be in an existential crisis.  However, the notion that the Democratic Party is in an existential crisis distracts our attention from what is really going on and what the real problem is.  Here is the real problem: Republican controlled state legislatures across the country are rigging election rules and installing right wing autocrats in key public offices responsible for counting the votes.  If this effort to suppress the vote and falsify electoral outcomes is allowed to stand, an essentially fascist Republican party can regain control of the House in 2022 and possibly put a Glenn Youngkin type demagogue into the White House in 2024.  This may very well constitute an existential threat to American democracy, at least in the short term, and to Earth’s ecology in the long term.

But to characterize the problem as an existential crisis of the Democratic Party confuses this picture badly.  It incorrectly assumes that it was within the power of the Democratic Party to prevent Youngkin from becoming governor of Virginia.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  When a kid fails a test, it is not always the teacher’s fault.  Maybe the kid is incapable.  Or maybe his or her parents have failed for whatever reason to provide the kind of support that he or she needed to succeed.  Or maybe the kid was just having a bad day when he or she sat for the test.  Or finally, it is certainly possible that the teacher did fail him or her.  But to seize upon the narrative that the teacher failed the student without analyzing what actually happened is a recipe for misunderstanding.

As far as I can tell, the Democrats are performing as well as any group of political leaders can be expected to perform.  Terry McCauliffe ran a first rate campaign in Virginia.  With a razor thin margin in Congress, the Democrats have negotiated among themselves a major and popular social spending bill and with a few Republicans a bipartisan infrastructure bill.  The scale of both these bills dwarfs recent policy accomplishments of either party in recent decades.  The unpalatable “sausage-making” required for any such agenda was accomplished in record time, given the scale of the legislation.  Joe Manchin, who is as corrupt as any Republican politician, watered down Biden’s agenda and the Congressional Progressive Caucus pushed back and kept it from getting completely eviscerated.  Sausage making doesn’t get better than this.

So what went wrong in Virginia?  First, suburban voters responded to Youngkin’s racist dog whistles.  If anyone on this list is shocked by this, there are excellent therapists in our community who I can recommend and excellent books about this country that you can read, like Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.  Is that the fault of the Democrats?  No, it is the fault of Youngkin and the voters.  Period. 

Second, a decisive concentration of these voters were concentrated in northern Virginia suburbs adjacent to the Washington DC beltway.  These voters are MUCH more attuned to the sausage making in the beltway than most suburban voters.  Many of them were no doubt demoralized by the inability of the Democrats to do the impossible—negotiate major legislation under the glare of the corporate controlled media without airing the party’s internal divisions.  That bit of stupidity also belongs to the voters, not the Democrats.

What does all this mean for the future? The loss in Virginia should energize the Democrats to tool up and fire up their operatives for the 2022 and 2024 elections.  I don’t have a crystal ball and will not hazard a prediction how this is going to turn out.  But let’s at least learn the right lessons from the country’s current political predicament.

If you want to join the Salon on Sunday, note that folks in the Eastern Time Zone (UTC-5) will have turned our clocks back one hour, from 2 AM EDT on November 7th to 1 AM EST.

--Brian D'Agostino, 917-628-8253 (cell--text or phone)


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Dr Judith Logue

Nov 4, 2021, 7:39:15 AM11/4/21

In addition to all you write, Brian:  One of the MSNBC commentators added the historical pattern that the incumbent party loses in Virginia.

If a Democrat had won, it would have changed that pattern, he said.




Judith Logue, Ph.D

18604 Tranquility Base Lane

Port St. Lucie, Florida 34987

609-915-9155, mobile

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Brian D'Agostino

Nov 4, 2021, 7:42:24 AM11/4/21
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