Andrew Sullivan is “dreaming of a landslide”

“I know I’m tempting fate,” writes Sullivan, “but a landslide is what this country so desperately needs.” Here is a taste of the conservative writer’s recent post at his SubStack site:

I know it’s tempting fate to mention the idea, foolish to entertain it, mad to expect it, but the possibility of a landslide is now real. There are about ten points between the two candidates with three weeks to go, and the momentum is overwhelmingly with the challenger. Among the likeliest scenarios in 538’s poll of polls is now a Biden Electoral College victory of over 400. Texas is in play. The Harris-Pence debate changed nothing, but firmly established Harris’ credentials as a possible president.

And all this changes a huge amount. A Biden win would be a reprieve for the country; a Biden landslide would be an American miracle. 

Unlike anything else, it would cauterize the wound of Trump, preventing further infection. It would say to posterity: we made this hideous mistake, for understandable reasons, but after four years, we saw what we did and decisively changed course. It would turn the Trump era of nihilism, tribalism and cruelty into a cautionary tale of extremism, illiberalism and, above all, failure. It would suggest, especially if older whites come round some more, that the future need not be one of spiraling racial polarization, but of multiracial support for liberal democracy, its norms, and practices. What you learn from studying the decline and collapse of republics is that illiberal precedents become the new baseline if they are not instantly repudiated and punished. A landslide loss for Trump would mitigate, if not remove, the deep damage he has done. 

Think of the last two defeated one-term presidents. Jimmy Carter and especially George H W Bush don’t seem so terrible in retrospect, but Carter’s devastating loss to Reagan haunted the Democratic psyche for decades. Bush’s loss to Clinton, in turn, solidified the hard right’s control of the GOP from Gingrich through to Trump. These defeats can impress on the partisan psyche more deeply than Congressional reversals. And the simple story line — reality-defying showman gets hit by viral reality — now has the devastating symbol of the White House itself as a Covid19 hotspot worse than anywhere else in DC. It’s a crude morality tale that’s very hard to resist.

A landslide would also do something important for an incoming Biden administration: it would present a real opportunity to pursue a policy of national reconciliation around Covid19 recovery and economic stimulus. It would buttress Biden’s hopes for bipartisan support, even if of a limited kind, in a genuine emergency. 

Read the entire piece here.