Now that the Senate races in Georgia are pretty much done, let’s take a look at who is happy and who is not so happy.
President-elect Joseph R. Biden is not happy at all. Expectations are now very high, and he no longer has a built-in excuse for why he can’t do all the crazy things on the progressives’ chore list. He will not be able to, as he so often has, avoid accountability for any failings. He will spend the duration of his term trying to navigate the very choppy waters between his party’s moderates and its progressives.
In short, he and his team now own the government and everything it does. That’s never a good place to be, nor is it sustainable for any length of time.
The campaign operative-industrial complex is very happy. They spent almost a billion dollars for a race involving a bit more than 4 million voters, approximately none of whom changed their votes over the course of the campaign. That’s an amazing $250 per vote, which has to be the largest waste of other people’s money in the history of politics. At least Michael Bloomberg had the courtesy to waste his own money in the 2020 Democratic Party primary.
Please people, stop giving money to campaigns; most of it is going into the pockets of consultants.
The Republicans are not happy at the moment, but they will be shortly. It is easier to be against and stop things in Washington than it is to be in favor of things. A sizable portion of the right’s ecosystem works much better in opposition. With narrow margins in both houses of Congress, being contentious will be simpler and more straightforward.
The Republicans — as they promised during the campaign — are actually going to get to “hold the line.” Let’s see how they do.
Everyone who has had to suffer through this campaign is happy that it is finished. The endless claims that this obscure set of runoffs in a state mostly famous for getting steamrollered by Gen. Sherman in 1864 was all about saving the nation or democracy or whatever are mercifully at an end.
If you really believe that these two races determined the fate of the nation, you probably want to accommodate yourself to the notion that the republic is already finished. If the difference between freedom and tyranny is a few thousand votes in a corner of one state, we’ve already lost.
Those who plan to challenge President Trump or his hand-picked successor in 2024 are happy. The losses in Georgia can be chalked up pretty much entirely to Mr. Trump’s muddying the waters in the run-up to the runoffs. In the first test of his post-presidential political muscle, he failed miserably. That will not stop him from blaming others, or voting machines, or whatever. But it is clear that his political power, while impressive in certain circumstances, is limited by his personality and its flaws.
The members of the Republican National Committee who decided not to challenge Chairman Ronna McDaniel after Mr. Trump’s early and forceful endorsement should be unhappy. Having lost the presidential race, including in her own state, the House, and now the Senate, she can hardly be considered an ideal candidate for another term at the helm of the RNC.
Her election, or lack thereof, will be an early indication of how serious the Republican machine is about improving.
Those who want to challenge Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (looking at you, Doug Collins) are happy. Whatever you think about him, in the wake of this, Mr. Kemp is probably finished. He lost his state in both the presidential and Senate elections. He appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler, over the very strong reservations of Mr. Trump and just about everyone else. The only question is whether he decides not to seek another term or is beaten in a primary.
Those of us who think that policy means something are happy. The two incumbent Georgia senators ran exclusively negative personal campaigns. Other than the tepid, embarrassing pleas to “hold the line,” the campaigns were not about anything. The incumbents lost, at least in part, because they offered no vision.
It’s a lesson for all candidates and operatives — something always beats nothing.
Finally, my friend Brian Klippenstein is happy. He has argued that the only way for our current trajectory — checks for everyone! Socialism! the Founders were evil! — to improve is through negative experience. In short, people need to touch the hot stove of unchecked Democratic rule.
How else to teach untaught history and economics? Hispanics in Florida voted for Mr. Trump in large measure because they had suffered without freedom and capitalism within living memory. Perhaps the suburban moms in places such as Fulton County in Georgia and Chesterfield County in Virginia need to discover that there are issues more important than being the most politically correct person at their kids’ soccer game.
They won’t be happy when that occurs to them.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to the president and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.