Posted on November 3, 2020

America Again Has a Choice Between the Past and the Future

John Harwood, CNN, November 1, 2020

This week, America decides whether the past can hold off the future one more time.

It happened four years ago when Donald Trump scored an Electoral College victory with his turn-back-the-clock campaign to Make America Great Again. He’ll have trouble pulling it off again.

That’s partly because the pace of demographic change keeps shrinking the America Trump evokes in the rear-view mirror. More than that, his presidency has exposed the inadequacy of yesterday’s prescriptions for the challenges America now faces.

Anxiety about change played a central role in putting Trump in the White House. As the first Black president, Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama embodied the population shifts that the Census Bureau says will turn Whites into a minority of the American population within a quarter-century. Opinion research into the 2016 contest showed racial resentment as a defining feature of Trump’s political base.


The blue-collar, less-educated, rural, conservative Christian Whites who fueled Trump’s victory keep shrinking as a proportion of the electorate. Whites will decline from 69% of eligible voters in 2016 to 59% by 2036 as the Hispanic and Asian populations rise, according to projections by the States of Change collaboration between the Brookings Institution and Center for American Progress.

Rising education levels will shrink the proportion of Whites without college degrees from 46% to 34% over that same period. In the last four years alone, Cook Political Report analyst Dave Wasserman has calculated, demographic shifts would be enough to tip the 2020 election to Joe Biden even without changes in the partisan preferences of any group.


For Trump and his party, the campaign’s closing days have strengthened one lever for resisting change beyond the voting booth. New Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who has bolstered the Supreme Court’s conservative majority to 6-3, refused in her confirmation hearings to specify her views on divisive issues from abortion to gay marriage to climate change.

Nor would Barrett commit to recusing herself from 2020 election litigation in which Trump’s trailing campaign seeks to limit ballot-counting. That has given Republicans hope and Democrats fear that the Supreme Court might intervene once again seal a presidential election outcome.


{snip} Available evidence indicates that, two days before vote-counting begins, the clock on Trump’s throwback presidency has run out.