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Joe Biden speaking in Georgia at a cam­paign event on Oct. 27. | Flickr

Many have right­fully viewed 2020 as a defining moment for the United States’ path forward; however, the results of this election, which are still being recounted and ver­ified, show some­thing dif­ferent than expected. It appears that the Repub­licans are likely to lose the pres­i­dency but keep the U.S. Senate — dependent upon the Georgia runoff in January that’s nec­essary since neither can­didate received at least 50% of the vote. 

In the past few months, we have seen the Demo­c­ratic Party’s plan to change the rules of the game by taking two actions to solidify their power for the fore­seeable future: packing the courts and admitting Wash­ington, D.C., (and poten­tially Puerto Rico) as states. After the con­fir­mation of Asso­ciate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Amy Coney Barrett, many Democrats, including Rep. Joe Kennedy and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, threatened to add seats to the Supreme Court and appoint jus­tices with their ide­o­logical bent — judges who, as Pres­ident Trump told a crowd in Toledo, Ohio on Sep. 21, would “impose a socialist vision from the bench that could never pass at the ballot box.” By adding Wash­ington, D.C. and Puerto Rico as states, as the House Democrats tried to do earlier this year, the Democrats would gain four Senate seats, most likely swaying control of the chamber to the Democrats. Repub­licans con­trolled the Senate after the 2016 election, but had these two ter­ri­tories been added as states, the Democrats would have been in control. 

Without the Senate, the Democrats cannot accom­plish this power grab. Nancy Pelosi already tried to admit Wash­ington, D.C., as a state, but the bill never saw the light of day in the Senate. Moreover, there is no way a Repub­lican Senate will pass any court-packing bill. 

It is true that, while Democrats have refused to support Pres­ident Trump’s highly-qual­ified court nom­inees, we should unfor­tu­nately expect a Repub­lican Senate to confirm Biden’s ide­o­logical and Con­sti­tution-ignoring judges to the courts. Repub­licans are often too “nice” to defend the U.S. Con­sti­tution, as we saw with their accep­tance of Obama’s court appoint­ments. 

Nonetheless, the worst-case sce­nario seems to have been avoided. We are spared from the radical leg­islative agenda and will not get the Green New Deal, nor Medicare-for-All, higher taxes, or the “Equality” Act. Gov­ernment will expand and exec­utive power will be abused. I am not going to pretend that a Biden pres­i­dency is good for our nation. Nonetheless, it is not as bad as some make it out to be.  

I believe Georgia is an inter­esting case explaining what hap­pened. Trump is behind, but Repub­lican Sen. Perdue main­tains a lead of more than 90,000 votes. This election was a rejection, not of con­ser­vatism, but of Trump. Voters appre­ciated Biden’s return to nor­malcy cam­paign and a battle for civility. They do not, however, support the Demo­c­ratic Party’s socialist leg­islative agenda as pro­moted by Demo­c­ratic sen­a­torial can­di­dates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.  

With Trump out, Repub­licans now have an oppor­tunity to define them­selves. Are they for a bal­anced budget and fiscal pru­dence? Are they for free trade? What does a con­ser­v­ative foreign policy look like, par­tic­u­larly with relation to Russia and China? Will Repub­licans realize that a majority of Amer­icans value civility and hate Trump’s aggressive style? Of the 70 million Amer­icans who voted for Trump, so many held their noses and viewed Trump as a “lesser evil.” A 2016 Pew Survey found that one-third of Trump voters voted for him because they felt there were no other options than the “greater evil” of Hillary Clinton. In October of this year, Pew found that 32% of Trump voters sup­ported him only mod­er­ately or leaned toward him rather than strongly support. Repub­licans have four years to regroup. Will they be able to provide a can­didate who is good, trust­worthy, smart, and con­ser­v­ative? Only time will tell.  

 

Josh Barker is a sophomore George Wash­ington Fellow studying pol­itics.