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Zirpoli: With many splitting their ticket, Americans voted for divided government | COMMENTARY

As Joe Biden’s margin over Donald Trump approaches 6 million votes and a “massive landslide” in the Electoral College, as described by Donald Trump in 2016 when he won by the same margin, it needs to be noted that Americans voted for a divided government.

The predictions that Democrats would take the Senate and gain seats in the House, including those made in this column, were wrong. Instead, barring upsets in two Georgia Senate runoff elections, the American people delivered a check on the new president.

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As David Axelrod stated, “Trump beat Trump.” His “polarizing approach to politics was rewarded with record support from GOP voters, but for the president who placed his bet on the politics of division and practiced it with a relentless ferocity, the math just didn’t add up.”

An example of how Trump beat Trump was on display in Pennsylvania. Trump advised his supporters not to vote by mail. I wonder how many of his supporters could not get to the polls due to their work schedules, child-care responsibilities, or how many elderly people in poor health could not stand in line? Democrats took advantage of the opportunity to vote by mail, and it seems to have made a difference.

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Republicans have a long tradition of taking advantage of the convenience of voting by mail. Trump was warned of the danger of telling supporters not to vote by mail. As usual, however, he ignored expert advice.

At the same time, 72 million Americans voted for a man who separated thousands of children from their mothers and who stated about 40 times, according to the Huffington Post, that COVID-19 would just disappear. I don’t understand why anyone would want four more years of chaos, racism, and lying, not to mention the systematic destruction of our institutions.

We cannot fight a national pandemic without a national policy. And, yes, Republicans, we are still talking about COVID-19 after the election. It was not a hoax invented to get Biden elected.

We can’t fight racism until we have a leader who knows how to listen and feel the pain of others. We cannot address the effects of climate change — fires in California, flooding in our southern cities, rising temperatures around the world —unless we believe in science and the experts who have predicted the effects of a warming climate for decades.

I can’t imagine the feelings of millions of Americans of color who must face the fact that so many of their fellow Americans offered affirmation to the candidate supported by White Supremacists and the KKK. At the same time, I am hopeful that many white Americans have started to listen and that they no longer see silence as an option.

The election of Kamala Harris, the first woman and person of color to have a seat at the national table, also offers hope. Of course, I had this hope when Barack Obama was elected president and it simply encouraged the racists to come out of their bunkers. And what does it say about our nation that it took this long to elect a woman and a person of color to a national ticket?

Nevertheless, columnist Arick Wierson expressed some hope when he said, “Today, millions of young girls like you across this great land will go to bed knowing that this country has a place for you.” Well, better late than never.

Biden won about 2.4 percentage points more than the average Democratic nominee for House seats, according to estimates by RealClearPolitics.com. He also did better than the Democratic nominees for Senate in the battleground states of Georgia, Michigan, and North Carolina. The Democratic candidates in the House who lost their seats were considered more liberal than Biden. For example, according to The New York Times, while Biden won Nebraska’s second Congressional district by almost seven points, Kara Eastman, a Bernie Sanders-style Democrat, lost her race by almost five points.

I backed Biden from the start because I believed he was the only candidate moderate enough to beat Trump. I stand by that conclusion and I believe the results of House and Senate races demonstrate my case. I did not think, however, that in this age of polarization, so many Americans would split their ticket by voting for Biden for president and their local Republican for the House and Senate. But millions of Americans did just that.

Americans seem to prefer divided government. Democrats beware: 2022 favors the party out of power and Republicans will have the edge in two years. The average House gain for the party out of power is 20 seats and that would turn the House over to the GOP.

Tom Zirpoli is the program coordinator of the Human Services Management graduate program at McDaniel College. He writes from Westminster. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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