Now Comes the Test

Election 2022 is all but over. A few races are yet to be counted, and we don’t yet know the final count of the US Senate, but we have enough to see the road ahead. We are an evenly divided country with an evenly divided government, but the Democrats have escaped decimation. Will we have gridlock or progress?

The two parties have long since declared war on each other—in rhetoric and action. In my experience, it began with the Sixties generation’s call for revolution against the existing culture. The most recent edition was Senator Bernie Sanders’ call for revolution during recent elections. Though Sanders was using the word as a call to idealists, revolutions are wars; they look like January 6th. In war, the only thing that counts is winning. Compromise—or even contact with the other party is treason.

On the Republican side, all codes of ethics, whether religious or civil, have been thrown aside in the name of Trumpism. Winning has been all that counts. Now leaders and media blame Trump for their defeats in the 2022 midterms, but only in the swing states. The power of the MAGA still looms large. Will the few giants left in the GOP be able to reassert their leadership and resurrect compromise, or will fear of retaliation from a much-weakened Trump win out once again?

On the Democratic side, the struggle will also be internal—between extremists and moderates. Like the far-right Republicans, the left wing of the party who’ve taken the word “Progressive” to describe themselves, believe they have all that is right and true on their side and are in a battle against evil. For two years, Biden, a moderate, has achieved impressive progress. Can he, with the strength given him by the 2022 election, win them over to compromise now that, without the power of a House majority, it is the only way forward, or will Congress again become a gridlock of extremes?

On both sides, the struggles described above will take place within the parties around the selection of nominees for President in 2024. On the Republican side, I can only hope that the 2022 election has weakened Trump enough to give the moderates a chance. On the Democratic side, my worries are of a different sort. I acknowledge that Biden’s age is a problem, but who has the negotiation skills to replace him? The leaders in the offing are the children and grandchildren of the Sixties, inheritors of idealism that declared war on the culture forty years ago. They have grown up with confrontational politics, and they show the same disdain of compromise—which they know nothing about.

I trust there are leaders in the offing on both sides who have matured in service of the country enough to recognize the extremes’ stranglehold on virtue for what it is—the justification of war.

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