Monthly Archives: January 2021

Republicans in the Biden Era

The Biden era begins with Democrats narrowly in control of Congress. Some actions can be taken without Republican support. Nonetheless, big change requires the votes of at least a few Republicans. How likely is this?

To answer this question, it’s necessary to dissect the current political environment.  In the 2020 presidential-election exit polls: 37 percent of respondents identified as Democrats, 36 percent identified as Republicans, and 26 percent as Independents.  (94 percent of Democrats voted for Biden and 94 percent of Republicans voted for Trump; 54 percent of Independents voted for Biden.)

In the presidential election, Trump had the support of 94 percent of Republicans.  Of the 158 million voters, 57 million were Republicans voting for Trump — 34 percent of all voters.

Since the election, and the January 6th insurrection, Trump’s support has eroded.  The latest Pew Research report ( ) indicated that only 29 percent of respondents approved of Trump’s job performance.  Trump’s support among Republicans had deteriorated and only 60 percent approved of his performance, as he left office.  Based on this finding, let’s assume that, at the moment, only two-thirds of Republicans who voted for Trump, on November 3rd, would vote for him today — 38 million (roughly 25 percent of all voters).  That’s the hard-core Trump base.  This aligns with a recent Monmouth University Poll ( ) that found: “Most Americans (71%) would rather see Republicans in Congress find ways to work together with Biden than to focus on keeping Biden in check (25%).”

In a recent Washington Post commentary (, legendary political observer, Elizabeth Drew, speculated on whether or not Donald Trump could “rehabilitate” himself as Richard Nixon did — after leaving the White House.  Drew summarized: “[Trump] lacks discipline, intellectual rigor and the doggedness Nixon used to pull himself up from the bottom. But Trump has one advantage Nixon didn’t … a large and fanatically devoted following.” (Emphasis added.)

It’s possible to allocate congressional Republicans into three groups –depending upon their devotion to Donald Trump.  The first group is the Trump cultists.  In the Senate, an example is Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville; in the House of Representatives, an example is California Congressman Devin Nunes.  The second group is the “transactionalists;” that is, Republicans who support Trump only when they see it to be their personal advantage.  In the Senate, an example is Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell; in the House, an example is House Minority leader Kevin McCarthy.  The third group is the “constitutionalists;” that is, Republicans who place following the Constitution over fealty to Trump.  In the Senate, an example is Utah Senator Mitt Romney; in the House, an example is Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger.

To understand the near-term prospects for congressional action, it’s necessary to factor in the fragmentation of the Republican Party.  (Theoretically there’s also a split in the Democratic Party between liberals and moderates; I’m ignoring this because, at the moment, Dems are reasonably unified.)

Trump’s Impeachment: On January 25th, The House (Democratic) impeachment managers delivered the paperwork for Trump’s second impeachment to the Senate.  The Senate trial begins on February 8th.  It would take 67 votes to convict Trump; assuming all 48 Democratic Senators and 2 Independents voted for conviction, 17 Republicans would have to vote for impeachment.  How likely is it that enough Republicans would vote to convict Trump?

A recent survey by the New York Times ( indicated that 27 of the 50 Republican Senators indicated they would not vote for conviction.  Some of these are Trump cultists, for example, Senator Tuberville.  Others, like Missouri Senator Josh Hawley are transactionalists; they’re voting in what they perceive to be their self-interest.

It’s a tall order to expect 17 Republicans to vote to convict Trump.  Early indications are that only a handful will do this.  On January 26th, Republican Senator Rand Paul forced a trial vote, based upon the (erroneous) notion that Trump’s (second) impeachment trial was unconstitutional — since Trump is no longer in office.  45 Republican Senators went along with this.  The five that voted agains Rand Paul’s motion were a group we might call Republican constitutionalists: Collins (Maine), Murkowski (Alaska), Romney (Utah), Sasse (Nebraska), and Toomey (Pennsylvania).  (Note that the transactional Republicans are hiding behind the chimera that Trump’s impeachment is illegal.)

Biden Economic Relief Plan: In addition to impeachment, the other major February Senate vote will be on the Biden Economic Relief package — an omnibus bill that will provide assistance to individuals, businesses, and governments impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.  Once again, we can expect that 48 Democratic Senators and 2 Independents will support this.  The questions is: how many Republican votes will it get?

I’m assuming there are ay least 10 Republican Trump cultists, who will oppose anything that Biden/Democrats propose.  That leaves 40 Republican senators who are somewhat open to Democratic initiatives.  I’m going to hazard a guess that there are 10 that will generally go along with their Democratic counterparts: Burr, Collins, Grassley, Lankford, Murkowski, Portman, Romney, Sasse, Scott, and Toomey.

Looking ahead:  In 2022, there are four Republican Senate seats that are up-for-grabs: North Carolina (Burr — retiring), Ohio (Portman — retiring), Pennsylvania (Toomey — retiring), and Wisconsin (Johnson).  If Trump remains a power in the Republican Party, then he will support Trump cultists to run in North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  (In Wisconsin, Johnson is a transactionaist and ,therefore, will tred softly to retain Trump’s support.)

In the majority of contentious House races, Republicans will propose Trump cultists.   This means that some of the House seats that Republicans won in 2020, will likely flip to Democratic control.  For example, in California Republicans control 11 seats, districts 1, 4, 8, 21, 22, 23, 25, 39, 42, 48, and 50.  The Republican occupying CA 25 is Mike Garcia, a Trump cultist — who won by 333 votes; he should be vulnerable in 2022.  Three seats won by transactional Republicans (21, 39, and 48) were won by narrow margins.

Summary: At this stage, we can expect a handful of congressional Republicans to support the Biden agenda.  The remainder will stay loyal to Trump and oppose most everything Democrats propose.  Capitol Hill won’t be in gridlock but on the edge.

How long this situation goes on depends upon the duration of Trump’s hold on the Republican Party.  This will depend upon three things: First, Trump’s access to social media; at the moment he cannot use Twitter and Facebook and, therefore, has no convenient daily way to communicate with his followers.  Second, Trump’s support from Republican donors; Trump will need money to continue to be the major GOP power — at the moment he isn’t getting support from big donors.  Third, exogenous factors such as the status of Trump lawsuits and the state of Trump business affairs; at the moment, Trump looks to be on shaky financial ground but time will tell.

We’re all sick of talking about Trump but, for the near future, we’re going to have to pay attention to him.  His “illness” has infected the Republican Party.


John Coltrane at Jazz Workshop
Earth evaporates.



DC, Paul Cezanne still life
Shifts reality.





Gallantly, I take your hand
Love’s Epiphany.

In Defense of Civility

In the seventies, I was working in Silicon Valley when email became ubiquitous on business’ campuses.  Although email simplified office communication, I noticed two negative aspects: email discouraged face-to-face interaction and it facilitated uncivility.  On January 8th, Twitter — email’s progeny –suspended Donald Trump’s account.  This was a welcome, although belated, defense of civility.

As a computer technologist — since the sixties — I’ve become used to the dual-edge of technological progress: each new advance, in some regard, makes our life easier; on the other hand, each advance has unsavory side effects.  The first computers simplified the keeping of financial records but also eliminated the jobs of many bookkeepers.  In business, the invention of email made day-to-day communication easier, but email made these conversations less personal and, in some cases, more abrasive.  (It wasn’t long after I started using email that I first became aware of the email “flamer;” an angry, accusatory, or disparaging email — someone saying something digitally that they would never say in person.)

Often, technological progress has political consequences.  Political historians note that Adolph Hitler’s rise was facilitated by his use of the (then) new technology of radio.  Donald Trump’s political rise was facilitated by his use of Twitter.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with Twitter — a quick, convenient form of social networking.  Unfortunately, like email, it facilitates uncivility.

Twitter was the perfect social media outlet for Trump because he has a short attention span and is (famously) uncivil.  The dictionary definition of “civil” is to be cultured, courteous, and polite.  Donald Trump is none of these things.  Donald doesn’t thank people or give them compliments; he criticizes and disparages.  Trump disdains conciliation and compromise; his idea of negotiation is “my way or the highway.”

Donald Trump loved Twitter.  When irritated by something, Trump used Twitter to instantly respond; from July 20, 2020, until January 8, 2021, Donald sent 5993 tweets.  Many flamers.  Many lies.  (In October, the Washington Post ( ) noted that Trump was averaging 50 lies per day.)   On a daily basis, Donald broadcast his uncivility.

The lie that the 2020 election was “stolen” was facilitated by Trump’s tweets.  On January 6th, the insurrectionists that stormed the US Capitol were egged on by Trump’s tweets.  The nature of American political dialogue has been been massively influenced by Trump’s tweets; this discourse has become coarser and more partisan.

Civility matters.  (Truth matters.)  Civility is the moral framework for “civil society,” without which Democracy cannot function.  Civility is the heart; civil society is the circulatory system.

Twitter amplified Trump’s uncivility. Therefore, I support Twitter’s suspension of Donald Trump’s account.  Of course, there is a “free speech” aspect of their decision.  Nonetheless, Trump’s recent conduct — particularly his lies about the 2020 election — meet the constitutional definition of prohibited speech: “that which would be directed to and likely to incite imminent lawless action.”  Equally important is the notion that, as President of the United States, Donald Trump should not have been using his “bully pulpit” to foment uncivility — he should not have been undermining democracy.

Donald Trump’s preferred style is to be uncivil.  Trump’s presidency was an expression of the insurgent wish to “blow up” Washington.  Donald railed against Washington “elites” and promised to “drain the swamp.”  He bragged about not being a politician, of bringing a different perspective into the oval office.  Trump advertised himself as a political insurgent.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with looking at national politics from a different point of view.  It’s true that there are Washington elites, who often do not promote the best interests of the American people but rather the power and fortune of the wealthy.  Many Trump supporters voted for Donald because they truly believed that he would shake up Washington; that he would foment a populist revolution that would improve the life circumstances of his supporters.  He didn’t do that during his term in office.

Donald Trump was unsuccessful because he was pathologically self absorbed.  The Trump presidency was not an era of finding new ways to promote the people’s best interests but rather finding ways to promote Trump’s interests.  Donald practiced the ultimate “bait and switch.”  He promised to “drain the swamp” but instead became the swamp; raised self-dealing to an art form.  Trump promised to “end American carnage” but instead promoted violence with attacks on the press, people-of-color — most everyone other than white men — and political dissidents.  Ultimately, Trump’s rhetoric promoted the January 6th insurrection.

With his uncivility, Donald blew up “political correctness” and replaced it with anger, insults, and lies.  He demeaned gentility.  He normalized what had previously been viewed as unacceptable behavior.

Now is the time to step back from the abyss.  Now is the time to defend civility.


No man an island
Our teachers once cautioned us
Now we’re isolates.

Separated from
Our family, friends, and neighbors
Sheltering in place.

The days stagger on
Light at the tunnel’s end, stays

Social animals
Cut off from human contact
Starving for soft touch.

Take heart, we know this
Terrain, we have walked here
Help is on the way.

Join recovery
Take responsibility
Cast out the demons.

Shun self interest
Care for your fellow humans
Honor the planet.

Find deep connection
Swim in the ocean of love
Build the bridge of hope.

The Onslaught of Madness

Madness does not run
It slithers up from behind
Catches you unaware.

One moment you’re safe
And the next, its tentacles
Wrap around your heart.

I saw the madness
In its cell, behind strong bars
Before it escaped.

Jumping the high fence
Racing across the pasture
Finding the grotto.

Hiding deep below
Feeding on the dark creatures
Sucking their essence.

Venturing outside
Sensing vulnerability
Probing our weakness.

Haunting our dreams
Polluting our unconscious
Clouding our resolve.

“Are you resentful?
Come follow me,” it whispers,
“Let out your anger.”

“Treated unfairly?
Because of your white skin?
Let your rage flow!”

Hollers, “Might makes right!
The ends justify the means!
Burn down everything!”

Madness taints judgment
Strips away moral constraints
Hardens fist and heart.

A New Era

The 2020 election is almost over; it will end when Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20th. The election process took 19 months: beginning with the first Democratic debate and ending with the November 3rd election, January 6th counting of the electoral votes, and the inauguration. We all have good reason to feel drained.

There were emotional peaks and valleys.  After the polls closed, on November 3rd, there was an awful moment when we thought Trump might win.  Then we worried that Trump might find a way to steal the election; that he would force a coup.  We held on to a slim hope that we would regain control of the Senate by winning two Georgia run-off races; improbably, on January 5th we won both seats.

Now we have to set to work rebuilding the country.  But before we do this, we need to consider what we have learned from this process.

1.Democrats can win anywhere.  Biden won Arizona and Georgia; two states that had previously been considered “red.”  Democrats picked up a Senate seat in Arizona and two (!) seats in Georgia.

2020 proved that the political battlefield is expanding; the number of reliably red states is shrinking.  This means that Democrats can win any election if they have a strong candidate and effective local organizing.  (Dems have proven they have the money to compete in any venue.)  What remains to be done is for Democrats to replicate in every state the effective organization that Stacey Abrams built in Georgia.

2. Trump voters have a different worldview.  Sadly, during the 2020 presidential election, we have also learned that many Republicans — particularly those that idolized Donald Trump — have a vastly different perspective than do Biden supporters.  (We must never forget that 74 million Americans voted for Trump — 46.9 percent of the participants.)

Of course, not every Trump voter continues to support Trump — given recent events, such as the January 6th Capitol Hill riot.  Nonetheless, it’s reasonable to assume that a majority of Republicans support Trump.  In the 2020 presidential election exit polls, 36 percent of respondents identified as Republicans — versus 37 percent as Democrats and 26 percent as Independents.  95 percent of these Republicans voted for Trump; one-third of voters.  Assuming that Trump’s behavior, since November 3rd, has driven away some of this base, this means that between 25 and 30 percent of the electorate now support him — approximately 40 million voters.

It’s impossible to predict what Trump will do and, therefore, difficult to plot the course of the Republican Party.  At this moment, the GOP seems to have divided into two warring factions: the Trump devotees and Republicans who have entered “recovery.”  (On January 6th, 147 Trump-supporting members of Congress voted to overturn the results of the election (

Going forward there are three mammoth tasks confronting the Biden-Harris administration: managing the Covid-19 pandemic, rebuilding the U.S. economy, and responding to climate change.  For each of these, the Biden-Harris administration is going to need the cooperation of Republicans, including some Trump supporters.

a. Covid-19 pandemic: At this writing, the United States has more than 22 million Coronavirus cases.  In contrast to Donald Trump, Joe Biden has promised to take the pandemic seriously: we can expect that he will emphasize mask use and demand funds for testing and vaccinations.  Most Americans will support these efforts, but Trump supporters will resist.  Too many do not take the pandemic seriously and, therefore, resist calls to wear a mask and socially distance — witness the Trump mob that stormed Capitol Hill; most of whom did not wear masks or socially distance.  (On Planet Trump, Coronavirus is a myth.)

Given the level of resistance of Trump supporters, it’s hard to imagine how a Biden-Harris initiative to ameliorate the pandemic will produce quick results.

b. Economic Recovery: The Biden-Harris team will attempt to restore the economy in two phases: first, provide assistance for individuals and businesses that have been damaged by the pandemic; and second, begin to address the more general issue of economic inequity — for example, by raising the minimum wage and forgiving student-loan debt.

Many Republicans, and Trump supporters, will be supportive of these efforts.

c. Climate Change: The 2020 presidential-election exit polls indicate that there’s a significant gap between the climate-change attitudes of Democrats and Republicans.  69 percent of Biden voters believe that “climate change is a serious problem” while 71 percent of Trump voters disagree.  It’s a situation similar to that on the pandemic: a strong majority of Biden supporters take the problem seriously and a similar majority of Trump supporters do not.

This is a particularly vexing situation because, once the pandemic is ameliorated, the United States needs to mobilize to deal with climate change.  We need to go to war to save the planet, but many Trump supporters won’t join this mobilization.

The bottom line is that the Biden-Harris team will govern a broken country; a fragile democracy that has just barely survived the reign of Donald Trump.  We’ve entered a new era but we all have much more work to do.

Rolling Down the Line

The train keeps rolling
Stations fly past the windows
“Leaving middle aged.”

“Next stop, elderly”
Technicolor fades to gray
Horizon shortens.

Farther I travel
The fewer train passengers
And the more baggage.

Many memories
Therapy burnt deep pathways
Opened locked doors.

Shaped perspective:
Look ahead or look behind?
I choose tomorrow.

Remain curious
Open to new experience
Prepared for wonder.

Sing my latest song
Write my political tract
Walk my feisty dogs.

Hope for the best
Always prepare for the worst
Treasure each moment

The glass is half full
Tomorrow is another day
We are getting there.