Liberals Have Some Soul-Searching to Do

Paul Christian Gordon/ZUMA

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I don’t know that I trust myself yet to say anything about the election, but there’s a little bit I can say.

First, no matter what else, and no matter how close the count was, it looks like Donald Trump is being tossed out of the White House. This is an unalloyed good thing and we should all be breathing a huge sigh of relief over it.

That said, Joe Biden’s victory represents only a tiny change in the vote compared to 2016. Trumpism wasn’t rejected—he probably would have won if not for the pandemic—and liberalism wasn’t embraced. At this point, Republicans still need to come to grips with how Trump took over their party, but Democrats need to come to grips with the fact that they remain a generally unloved alternative. I have my own ideas about why that is, which I’ll keep to myself for the time being, but it’s something that needs to be addressed in a clear-eyed way. No more hiding behind popular vote victories or polls claiming to show that everyone loves our policies. It’s obvious that both are misleading. Nor is the answer for the party to be more vigorous about supporting your personal policy preferences. That’s just lazy.

This is all going to be discussed to death over the next few months, and we’re all going to get sick of it. But the worst thing liberals can do is to keep piddling down the same path as always without giving it much thought. We need to do better.

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If you're new to Mother Jones or aren't yet sold on supporting our nonprofit reporting, please take a moment to read Monika Bauerlein's post about our priorities after these chaotic several years, and why this relatively quiet moment is also an urgent one for our democracy and Mother Jones’ bottom line—and if you find it compelling, please join us.

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