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The Unspin Room

Dalton Delan: Midterm anxiety a mere appetizer for 2024 tumult

APTOPIX Election 2022 Voting Begins

Cornelius Whiting fills out his ballot Sept. 26 at an early voting location in Alexandria, Va. In-person voting for the midterm elections has started in Minnesota, South Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming. 

Just over a month to go before the midterm elections. The Democrats are hoping what is topmost of mind for voters is abortion rights, an improving economy, declining prices at the pump and the upside of student loan forgiveness. The GOP — aka the party of election denial — is still rehashing 2020, voodoo economics, immigration and the downside of student loan forgiveness.

If the GOP takes control of the House or Senate, it’ll be like whacking a hornet’s nest. Get out the EpiPen. We can expect a plague of publicity-stunt hearings and investigations. These will be tailor-made to obfuscate the criminal misappropriation down in the game room at Mar-a-Lago. I’ll match your search warrant and raise you one. It doesn’t matter if one is real and the other is acid reflux.

If the GOP stands for anything anymore, other than Donald Trump as lord, it is a regrettable stew of dog-whistling, misogyny, gender-bashing, fake religiosity and illiberalism. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is as if Nixon had a virgin birth.

It is unfortunate that a third party is not viable in this country. Despite her Trump-aligned positions before the insurrection, Liz Cheney at least admires democracy. To think that is an exception in a major political party! As John Lennon sang, “Nobody told me there’d be days like these.” Cheney may be spawn of the devil, but now she’s a comparative angel. Surveys over the last few years reveal only a third or fewer of millennials think democracy is essential. We live not in a pure democracy but a representative one. The recent spate of regressive laws and rulings to the right of public opinion doesn’t reflect well on our particular form of government. The end of the beginning may be the beginning of the end.

If the Dems maintain control, the focus shifts to 2024. Worrying prosecution, Trump must run again, if only in self-defense. Even so, DeSantis, Florida’s great white hope, might conceivably jump the shark and risk a primary challenge rather than waiting for 2028. Cloaked in God and the flag, DeSantis is milking the moment for all it’s worth. The governor wants to brush under the rug the Florida lockdowns. He wades into crowd-pleasing bathroom and textbook issues eyes-wide-open as Mr. Look-at-me. Lacking Trump’s uncontrollable nature, he is scarier, just as Nixon was. His overweening ambition feels Shakespearian.

Do Dems have an answer?

In the incumbent wing, Biden really has to run again. Who else is there? He knows he may be the only one who can reliably eke it out head-to-head with his predecessor. If Biden were to step back, say due to unforeseen health issues, the Dems are just as likely to go Pete Buttigieg as they are Gavin Newsom. After all, they put up Hillary because it was “her turn” despite it being the worst idea since, well, forever. And California dreamin’ is no longer a middle American ideal. How’s that homeless situation in San Fransisco, Gavin? There is a glaring void where candidates with crossover appeal should be. Vice President Kamala Harris has left wholly undone the immigration task Biden gave her, a target ripe for DeSantis’ cruel publicity stunts.

Kirsten Gillibrand, the scourge of Al Franken, could pop her head up for a reinvigorated pro-choice electorate. She might find daylight. Pass over Amy Klobuchar, whose rep with underlings is as a mini Leona Helmsley. No love there. Newsom could be the one, with Pete as Veep. Are we there yet? The Dems have a bad habit of testing the mettle of the South and Midwest.

The odds remain that we see a rematch of Trump versus Biden. It’s not the worst scenario. Biden would win by a bigger margin this time. The GOP and class clowns like Lindsey Graham underestimate the wrath of American women outside of a Fox echo chamber. If DeSantis’ favorite justice is Clarence Thomas, he may need to tread lightly if he wants to turn the nation into Flomerica. His party is sadly out of touch with the majority. All the anti-democratic gerrymandering and election-board-stacking might not hold up against a clear popular vote.

If a rematch is the likeliest scenario, maybe we’ll get a further four years to tamp down the autocratic insanity and reestablish democratic norms. There’s always our cool cousin Canada. But they’re still tied to a sovereign, and the head that wears the crown is considerably wobblier after much-missed Elizabeth. Still, I binged Canada’s seemingly endless “Heartland” TV series through the pandemic. Certainly scenic up yonder.

Silver-haired as I am, I would be more comfortable with the age of our top dogs if it brought corresponding wisdom. The status quo is the new progress. We’re likely stuck with what we’ve got for a little while longer. Inevitably, the young deserve to make their own mistakes. Hey, sports fans, there was a new crop at the U.S. Open. Tennis, anyone?

Dalton Delan can be followed on Twitter @UnspinRoom. He has won Emmy, Peabody and duPont-Columbia awards for his work as a television producer.

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