Tuesday, November 29, 2022

An Alum Reaches Out With a Question

It is the nature of being a law professor that one sometimes fields questions from alumni, who naturally turn back to their alma mater's faculty whenever they have a question about some burning issue of the day. I'm typically happy to get these emails, as it is nice to stay engaged with the broader university community and help provide what insight I can to the areas I'm claim expertise in.

For example, just today I received an email from a Lewis & Clark Law grad, class of '80, who had the following inquiry (reproduced below in full):

Question: Why is it considered ant-semitic [sic] to point out Jewish domination of the media, international finance, and Hollywood? 

It's so nice to be recognized as a subject-matter expert.

The email came from the guy's official law firm email address, which for some reason I find tickling. (I also find tickling that he was given a stayed suspension from the practice of law in 2020, which follows a censure and a reprimand all within the past five years). Nonetheless, I think I'll decline to reply to this one.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Will DeSantis Run Against Trump's Antisemitism?

On Twitter the other day, I registered what I called a slightly "off-beat prediction" that DeSantis might attack Trump on his antisemitic associations (Kanye, Fuentes) in a 2024 primary setting.

Lo and behold, others are having the same idea

"This is a f---ing nightmare," said one longtime Trump adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of stoking the former president's ire at "disloyal" people who criticize him. "If people are looking at [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis to run against Trump, here's another reason why."

Now, I want to expand on my logic a bit. 

To be clear, the reason DeSantis might take this approach is not because DeSantis is against antisemitism in any non-trivial sense. DeSantis has long been a promoter of the most popular forms of antisemitism in the GOP; the sorts that focus on Soros conspiracy mongering and which ultimately are gateway drugs to the more explicit White supremacist stuff forwarded by the likes of Fuentes.

Nor do I think DeSantis has some principled opposition to the line Trump has crossed. If it ever became clear that snuggling up to Nick Fuentes was good GOP politics, I have no doubt that DeSantis would be getting his cuddle on.

But DeSantis is in an interesting position if he's running against Trump. He needs to find a way to distinguish himself from Trump. But it has to be something that doesn't immediately code him as a cuck RINO. And that's especially difficult when for the most part any position Trump takes immediately becomes the gospel right-wing truth for GOP primary voters. It's hard to be more Catholic than the Pope when the Pope can issue catechisms.

Hitting Trump on express antisemitism is a rare example of a potential differentiation that might fit the bill. I stress "might" because there is absolutely no guarantee that it will work. Between "Trump is Israel's greatest friend" and "Trump has Jewish family members", the GOP has long been primed to dismiss as absurd allegations of antisemitism. And at the same time, classic right-wing antisemitism conjoined with "stabbed in the back" narratives may make GOP voters more inclined to accept Trumpist antisemitism on its own terms.

But there aren't many better alternatives I can think of, and DeSantis might need to gamble here. Much of the GOP's current self-id about Jews is that they're the Jews' best friends; a high-profile white knighting on Jews' behalf does in some ways fit current GOP self image. DeSantis would basically be placing a bet that GOP voters currently prefer "better Jews than the Jews" antisemitism to the completely unadorned variety. Is that a sure bet? No. But DeSantis needs to find something that could work, and this does seem to qualify.

What I can say is that if DeSantis does take this tack the media will positively drool over it. Sista Souljah moment! Look at how principled and anti-racist DeSantis is! So at the very least, we the Jews have that to look forward to.

Monday, November 21, 2022

The Era of Conservative Legal Formalism is Over

When I was in law school, most legal liberals had a touch of anxiety that we were supporters of "activist judging".

That isn't to say we thought we were lawless. We just knew what our sin was, and our sin was being too tempted to be "flexible" with the law in order to secure important progressive ends of justice or equality. Legal conservatives had the opposite sin -- a too-rigid commitment to legal formalism that might cause them to unnecessarily endorse suffering or injustice based on slavish fidelity to legalistic principles. Whether earned or not, conservatives were seen as the mantle-holders of technical legal prowess (albeit perhaps at the expense of the bigger picture).

These were just fears, and so perhaps they never reflected reality. What I can say is that these days, those fears even as fears are gone. I know of no legal liberals these days who think of judicial conservatives as being the guardians of (too much) legal formalism. 

Reading folks like Steve Vladeck or Rick Hasen -- who if nothing else are technical experts in their respective domains (of federal courts and election law, respectively) has emphasized not just the moral objectionability of many recent right-wing rulings, but their legal sloppiness. They are absolutely not instances where a slavish devotion to legal formalism is leading to unpalatable results. They're instances where judges are just completely ignoring legal forms in order to stretch to the unpalatable result.

The era where the battle lines were "conservative formalists" versus "progressive pragmatists" are over. Conservatives have lost even the perceived dominion over being committed to formal legal procedures -- no small feat, if I'm right that even legal liberals for a long time had tacitly conceded that to be a conservative strength. But this is indeed the era where conservative judicial activism is running amok; right-wing judges running roughshod over any sort of professional legal principle in the manic pursuit of conservative policy objectives. If nothing else, it's restoring confidence among the legal liberals in our own technical aptitude. Small consolation, I know, but perhaps it will lay the foundation for a broader backlash.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

It's Not (Always) About IHRA

The Cal student government just passed a resolution denouncing antisemitism. However, a handful of student Senators (I've seen different reports -- between five and nine) abstained from the vote, contending that the resolution "penalizes" senators by "forcing them" to approve a resolution that "equates supporting Palestine with being antisemitic."

When I hear language like that, I immediately assume that the problem is over utilization of the IHRA antisemitism definition -- a widely accepted tool for identifying antisemitism that has come under significant scrutiny and controversy for allegedly improperly targeting pro-Palestinian speech or action.

But here, the resolution doesn't mention IHRA. In fact, the resolution doesn't talk about Israel at all. None of the "whereas" clauses speak to antisemitic incidents related to Israel. None of the resolution parameters in any way speak about Israel or Zionism in any way whatsoever.

So given all of that, how is it that a cluster of students -- a minority, but not an insignificant one -- thinks that the resolution "equates supporting Palestine with being antisemitic"?

The apparent answer is that the resolution identifies a webpage created by Berkeley's Center for Jewish Studies as a resource students can use to find more about antisemitism. And that webpage, in turn, among its many links and resources, contains a video about antisemitism which, contains a small segment trying to articulate when criticism of Israel becomes antisemitic. 

The video draws the line in relatively normal places (criticism of Israeli policies is fine, supporting a Palestinian state is fine, supporting Arab rights in Israel is fine; relying on classic antisemitic imagery is not fine; Nazi comparisons are not fine; opposing Israel's existence where one supports analogous forms of national autonomy groupings for other marginalized groups is not fine). But one needn't find the video sacrosanct to think that it represents a tremendously thin reed through which to say that this particular resolution "equates supporting Palestine with being antisemitic."

I think this reaction, though, illustrates something important. Much of the criticism of, for example, IHRA, styles itself as lawyerly or technical objections to IHRA's vagueness, or over- or under-inclusivity. I share many of those criticisms; I think IHRA has many problems. Yet I've been very hesitant to join in on the various "drop IHRA" campaigns. And the reason why is that the underlying social movement that drives these campaigns is not one predicated on technical or lawyerly objections. It is based on belief in a more fundamental claimed entitlement: the absolute right that no type of "anti-Israel" or "pro-Palestine" speech or conduct ever be deemed antisemitic, in any case or context. Any condemnation of antisemitism that doesn't promise plenary indulgence for anti-Israel activity will be deemed tantamount to "equating supporting Palestine with being antisemitic."

For this reason, I think that many of the more thoughtful anti-IHRA critics are deluding themselves if they think their compatriots' problem with IHRA really boils down to things like "there's no need for a more specific codified standard of antisemitism" or "it's too vague" or "it's applied overexpansively". All of those things may be true -- but one can take them all away and the core opposition would still remain in any case where claims of antisemitism are treated as conceptually plausible in a non-trivial number of cases relating to speech or conduct about Israel or Zionism.

The Berkeley resolution studiously -- perhaps too studiously -- avoided the issue of Israel. It passed, which was good. But the minority opposition's claims that even a resolution that anodyne was objectionable -- that it was tantamount equating any support for Palestine with antisemitism -- I think is revelatory about a sort of political positioning on antisemitism that cannot be dismissed as a bit player. For some people, it isn't about IHRA, nor about technical objections or more precise language. A lot of the push here is by people who will settle for nothing less than a blanket, preemptive exoneration of anything and everything that might be said or done to or about Jews, so long as it styles itself as "supporting Palestine." And it's going to be up to the good faith critics of IHRA et al to recognize the existence of that cadre and its non-triviality, and decide how to sever them from the ranks, because right now they're unfortunately driving a lot of the conversation forward in a fashion that -- if they have their way -- would essentially make any non-nugatory move against antisemitism impossible.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

On The Ease of Having Friends With Political Differences

One of the feature creatures of the alt-center scare machine these days has been the alleged unwillingness of "certain" people (read: progressive Gen Z-ers and millennials) to make or keep friendships with persons they disagree with politically. 

That truly awful JILV poll generated stories breathlessly claiming that "wo-thirds of progressives and 54 percent of 'very liberal' respondents said they have effectively 'cancelled' a friend or family member because of their political views" (the poll actually asked whether one had "lost a friend, stopped talking to a relative, or grown distant from a colleague because of political opinions or differences?", which is a rather far cry from "effective cancellation", but no matter) is one good example. This column from Samuel Abrams and Pamela Paresky, bemoaning the oversensitivity of college students who don't want to date peers who voted for the opposing 2020 election candidate, is another.

I have to say, I find this line of concern a bit perplexing. As a general matter, it seems incredibly easy for people to make and keep friendships across political difference. For example: this past election those of us who lived in Portland had quite a few ballot issues to vote on, including things like local bond issues, switching from run-off elections to ranked-choice voting, and altering the structure of our city government from a "commissioner" model to multi-member geographically zoned districts. As in all elections, I did my best to research these issues and come to a conclusion on them. But -- while I haven't asked any of my Portland friends or colleagues how they voted on any of these questions -- I can't imagine the possibility of losing relationships if they voted differently than I did. These political differences, it seems, are rather easily overcome by the bonds of friendship.

Now, the trumpeters of the "cancellation" epidemic narrative will surely cry foul here. The political differences they have in mind are not local Portland ballot initiatives; it's pedantic to use them as a falsifying example of the larger "problem". And I agree that these examples are obviously not the cases that someone like Abrams or Paresky or David Bernstein has in mind.

Which means it'd probably be useful to be specific about the actual cases one has in mind.

Consider, for instance, a trans college student. A live political controversy, right now, is whether or not they should have been legally prohibited from getting necessary health care in their teenage years and whether they should have been forcibly ripped away from their parents (who, in turn, should be imprisoned as child abusers) if they tried to provide such treatment. If such a student finds out that one of their "friends" believes that all of that should have happened; and will vote in order to make it more likely that this would happen, can we really say with a straight face that the student is wrong if they sever the friendship? If the friendship is indeed distanced -- and it won't always be, people are complex -- it would be both factually incorrect and uncharitable to the extreme to say that the student has shown an inability to tolerate "political differences", generally. The student surely would not make a similar judgment regarding political differences about the proper top marginal income tax rate. It is a specific "difference" that is beyond the pale for them, and with respect to that specific difference it's hard to say that their judgment isn't reasonable.

There are many classes of vulnerable individuals who face such questions as pertain to live political controversies. Gay and lesbian individuals, who learn a peer "differs" on the subject of whether their marriage should be forcibly dissolved and their very identity re-criminalized and subjected to prison time (both live subjects of political dispute, given emergent threats to Obergefell and Lawrence). If they distance from that relationship, is that really evidence of a broader failure to respect political difference? Undocumented "Dreamer" immigrants, who must reckon with the reality that "I may be torn from the only home I’ve ever known at any moment and a sizeable portion of what I thought was my community will cheer as they drag me off." If they react poorly to that difference, are they really engaging in cancellation?

We are not talking about "political differences" generally. We're talking about a subset of specific differences that pose deep, arguably existential, threats to individuals lives and well-being. And to the extent there's asymmetry in how often progressives find a live political difference that fall into that category, that might reflect nothing more than an asymmetry in which political camp is overwhelming responsible for that particular type of existentially-threatening "difference." There is not any sustained progressive campaign to make it illegal for, say, Southern Baptists, to get married (and if you are a progressive who does support such a policy, any resulting loss of Southern Baptist friends would be entirely on your head!).

"Not every point of political disagreement can be treated as an existential threat to one's very existence." I could not agree more. Moreover, it seems blatantly obvious that nobody -- even the dreaded progressive Gen-Zers -- thinks otherwise. People have absolutely no problem making and keeping friendships and relationships across political difference, generally. They have a serious problem with certain specific political differences. Those who think that problem, is a problem, should do the courtesy of naming the issues. Then we can assess whether the young woman who was impregnated by rape is wrong to cut ties with the "friend" who says she should be forced to give birth on pain of a prison sentence.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Why Is Ron DeSantis Such a Marco Rubio?

Following his apparent 59/40 romp to reelection over Charlie Crist, Eugene Volokh wants descriptive answers to the question of why Ron DeSantis did so well, particularly in contrast to his razor-thin 2018 victory (where he won by less than half a point). What's the secret of his political success?

I'm not going to fully venture an answer to that question. But there's an important data point that I want to flag which is I think easily overlooked in the coming DeSantis mania, namely: that Marco Rubio had almost the exact same result as did DeSantis. He prevailed in his Senate race over Val Demings 57/41. This also represents a significant improvement over Rubio's margin in his last race (which was in 2016, not 2018, so not apples-to-apples, but still pertinent)

I mention this because it suggests that a consilient explanation for DeSantis' strong performance probably should be one that also explains Rubio's near-identical performance. The similarity in results is especially notable given that Rubio and DeSantis don't seem like especially similar political figures or cut similar profiles beyond both being conservative Republicans -- it'd be hard to come up with personal attributes that both share that represent plausible explanations for explaining their respective performance. That DeSantis and Rubio seem quite different (we're talking about DeSantis, not Rubio, as a potential 2024 contender) makes it all the more noteworthy that they basically had identical margins this election. That suggests that the factors driving the results had less to do with DeSantis' personal political genius (unless that genius is something he somehow shares with Rubio), and more on broader structural considerations that have little to do with DeSantis-qua-DeSantis.

So, to move towards an answer to Volokh's question of why DeSantis did so much better in 2022 than 2018, some plausible factors (none of which naturally demonstrate particular "political brilliance" by DeSantis) include:

  • The general "reddening" of Florida.
  • 2018 being a worse year for Republicans than 2022.*
  • Incumbency advantage.
Now, of course, all of these could be unpacked further, and potentially in a fashion that gives more individualized credit to DeSantis. For example, maybe Florida is "reddening" in part because of DeSantis' policies or personal popularity (though the trend seems to predate him -- there hasn't been a Democratic Governor in Florida since 2000, hasn't been a Democratic Senator since 2018, and by 2018 Democrats were already down to a single statewide elected official). Or maybe Rubio's performance this time around is attributable to good coattails from running with DeSantis.

But to a large extent, I think we're overstating DeSantis' political acumen based on this election. I understand the first-blush appeal -- he did far better than many of his Republican colleagues in the 2022 cycle. But he didn't do materially better than his other Florida Republican colleagues, which suggests that the explanation for his success might be Florida-specific, but probably isn't DeSantis-specific. Contrast that to, say, Marcy Kaptur in Ohio, who seemed to dramatically outperform other Ohio Democrats -- that suggests that she might have some personally unique mojo worth looking into. Ditto Chris Sununu in New Hampshire, who easily won reelection in a swing state where Democrats won three tightly contested Senate and House races. Compared to Kaptur and Sununu, DeSantis looks pretty well ordinary -- no more impressive than Marco Rubio.

* This is obviously true, though it's a bit obscured because Democrats probably overperformed expectations more in 2022 compared to 2018. But the actual results of the 2018 midterm were far better for the Democrats than was the case in 2022.

Reading Rosenberg in 2022 Portland

I'm teaching a seminar on Anti-Discrimination Law this semester -- the first time I've taught the class in 10 years. One of assigned materials is Gerry Rosenberg's classic book The Hollow Hope, a famous critique of the judiciary's ability to bring about social change.

I was especially curious to hear my students' reaction to the book, as I think a lot has change even over the past ten years regarding some of the underlying presumptions that made Rosenberg's book so explosive when it was released, or even when I first assigned it in 2012.

Back then ("then" being the early 1990s, when the book originally came out, and 2006, when I first read it, and 2012, when I first taught it), liberal law students still were I think largely operating in the nostalgic shadow of the Warren Court as the model of what courts should be doing on behalf of vulnerable minority groups. Courts were presumed to be an important vector of social change; to the extent the Supreme Court had become conservative it was frustrating that judicial conservatives wouldn't let the judiciary do its job like it did in the mid-20th century. The Hollow Hope was such a shock to the system because it suggested, not that the Warren-era precedents were illegitimate or products of bad judicial reasoning, but that they didn't matter -- they (allegedly) did virtually nothing to bring about the lauded progressive changes like desegregation in the 1950s and 60s.

But kids these days, I figured, may not hold the judiciary even conceptually in such high regard. I could very much imagine the progressives in my classroom coming in with a lot of preexisting cynicism towards the courts -- the baseline assumption being courts as obstacles to social progress rather than (currently malfunctioning) enablers of it. For that sort of student, how would Rosenberg be received?

The conversation we had in class was interesting and dynamic (as they typically are -- I have great students). But it ended on a topic that has virtually never come up in my law school classrooms until now: the earnest questioning of when political violence is justified.

I want to be clear: this question, like any other, is a valid subject for classroom discussion. America was founded by violent revolution, after all; in my Constitutional Law class we just finished reading about the importance of protecting under First Amendment principles discussion about, or even "abstract advocacy" of, violence as a tool for seeking political change.

Nonetheless, it was a sobering discussion, and one that felt very much borne out of despair. Rosenberg, it seemed, put the nail in the coffin of any hopes of using courts as a vector for social change, at least as against entrenched and powerful social interests. And they were already deeply cynical about the vitality of democratic institutions as a meaningful avenue for securing progress -- not because they opposed democracy in concept, but because they thought our democratic institutions had been so malformed by corruptions like gerrymandering, voter suppression, and boundless money in politics that there was no longer reliable correspondence between the nominally democratic levers of power and the popular will. Given that, they wanted to ask, to what extent are we in an arena where at the very least we need to take seriously the prospect of widespread political violence, and act accordingly? (One student, in particular, was absolutely emphatic that liberals needed to arm themselves -- the fascists were coming, he said, and we absolutely cannot rely on the state to protect us anymore).

Again, the discussion was thoughtful, bracing, and serious -- in particular, there wasn't a lot of gleeful discussion of violence that one occasionally hears from the more radical set, which falls over itself in the eagerness to "punch Nazis". But also again, it was sobering just that this was where my students' minds were at -- a cynicism and depression pushed nearly to the breaking point, and serious lack of confidence in the vitality of the basic institutions of liberal democracy. As a pretty normcore liberal, that worried me. And even more worrisome to me is that I did not feel like I had a lot of compelling arguments to assuage their fears.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

The 2022 Almost-Post Mortem

I was a bit hesitant to write my post-mortem recap today, since some very important races remain uncalled. Incredibly, both the House and Senate remain uncalled, though the GOP is favored in the former and Democrats have the slight advantage in the latter. It would be truly delightful if Catherine Cortez Masto can squeak out a win in Nevada and so make the upcoming Georgia run-off, if not moot, then slightly less high stakes. But again, things are up in the air that ought make a big difference in the overall "narrative" of the day.

Nonetheless, I think some conclusions can be fairly drawn at this point. In no particular order:

  • There was no red wave. It was, at best, a red trickle. And given both the underlying fundamentals  on things like inflation and the historic overperformance of the outparty in midterm elections, this is just a truly underwhelming performance for the GOP. No sugarcoating that for them.
  • If Trafalgar polling had any shame, they'd be shame-faced right now, but they have no shame, so they'll be fine.
  • In my 2018 liveblog, I wrote that "Some tough early results (and the true disappointment in Florida) has masked a pretty solid night for Democrats." This year, too, a dreadful showing in Florida set an early downer tone that wasn't reflected in the overall course of the evening. Maybe it's time we just give up the notion that Florida is a swing state?
  • That said, Republicans need to get out of their gulf-coastal-elite bubble and realize that what plays in Tallahassee doesn't play in the rest of the country. 
  • That's snark, but also serious -- for all the talk about how "Democrats are out-of-touch", it seems that the GOP also has a problem in not understanding that outside of their fever-swamp base most normal people maybe don't like the obsession with pronouns and "kitty litter" and "anti-CRT". Their ideological bubble is at this point far more impermeable, and far more greatly removed from the mainstream, than anything comparable among Democrats.
  • Abortion is maybe the biggest example of this, as anti-choice measures keep failing in even deep red states like Kentucky, while pro-choice enactments sail to victory in purple states like Michigan (to say nothing of blue bastions like California). Democratic organizers should make a habit of just putting abortion on the ballot in every state, and ride those coattails.
  • It's going to fade away almost immediately, but I cannot get over the cynical bad faith of what happened regarding baseless GOP insinuations that any votes counted after election day were inherently suspicious. On November 7, this was all one heard from GOP officials across the country, even though delays in counting are largely the product of GOP-written laws. But on November 8, when they found themselves behind on election night returns, all of the sudden folks like Kari Lake are relying on late-counted votes to save them while raising new conspiracies about stolen elections. Sickening.
  • Given the still powerful force of such conspiracy mongering, Democrats holding the executive branch in key swing states like Wisconsin and Michigan is a huge deal. Great job, guys.
  • For the most part, however, most losing MAGA candidates are conceding. Congratulations on clearing literally the lowest possible bar to set.
  • The GOP still should be favored to take over the House, albeit with a razor-thin majority. And that majority, in turn, seems almost wholly attributable to gerrymandering -- both Democrats unilateral disarmament in places like New York, but also truly brutal GOP gerrymanders in places like Florida. This goes beyond Rucho, though that case deserves its place in the hall of shame. The degree to which the courts bent over backwards to enable even the most nakedly unlawful districting decisions -- the absurd lawlessness of Ohio stands out, but the Supreme Court's own decision to effectively pause enforcement of the Voting Rights Act because too many Black people entering Congress qualifies as an "emergency" on the shadow docket can't be overlooked either -- is one of the great legal disgraces of my lifetime in a year full of them.
  • Of course, I have literally no idea how the Kevin McCarthy will corral his caucus with a tiny majority. Yes, it gives crazies like Greene and Boebert (well, maybe not Boebert ...) more power, but that's because it gives everyone in the caucus more power, which is just a recipe for chaos. Somewhere John Boehner is curling up in a comfy chair with a glass of brandy and getting ready to have a wonderful day.
  • My new proposal for gerrymandering in Democratic states: "trigger" laws which tie anti-gerrymandering rules to the existence of a national ban. If they're banned nationwide, the law immediately goes into effect. Until they are, legislatures have free reign. That way one creates momentum for a national gerrymandering ban while not unilaterally disarming like we saw in New York. Could it work? Hard to know -- but worth a shot.
  • Let's celebrate some great candidates who will be entering higher office! Among the many -- and this is obviously non-exhaustive -- include incoming Maryland Governor Wes Moore, incoming Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, incoming Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman. Also kudos to some wonderful veterans who held their seats in tough environs, including Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Virginia congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, New Jersey congressman Andy Kim, Maine Governor Janet Mills, and New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan.
  • Special shoutout to Tina Kotek, who overcame considerable headwinds (and the worst Carleton alum) to apparently hold the Governor's mansion in my home state of Oregon. Hopeful that Jaime McLeod-Skinner can eke out a victory in my congressional district too, though it looks like that might come down to the wire.
  • I also think it's important to give credit even to losing candidates who fought hard races. Tim Ryan stands out here -- not only did he force the GOP to spend badly needed resources in a state they should've had no trouble keeping, but his coattails might have pushed Democrats across the finish line in at least two House seats Republicans were favored to hold. (I hate to say it, but Lee Zeldin may have played a similar role for the GOP in New York).
  • I'm inclined to agree that, if Biden doesn't run in 2024, some of the emergent stars from this cycle (like Whitmer or Shapiro) are stronger picks for a presidential run than the also-rans from 2020. But I also think that Biden likely will get an approval bump off this performance -- people like being associated with winners!
  • On the GOP side, the best outcome (from my vantage) is Trump romping to a primary victory and humiliating DeSantis -- I think voters are sick of him. The second best outcome might be DeSantis winning narrowly over Trump and provoking a tantrum for the ages that might rip the GOP apart. DeSantis himself, as a presidential candidate, is an uncertainty -- I'm not convinced he plays well outside of Florida, but I am convinced that if he prevails over Trump the media will fall over itself to congratulate the GOP on "repudiating" Trumpism even though DeSantis is materially indistinguishable from Trump along every axis save that he's not abjectly incompetent (which, in this context, is not a plus).
  • The hardest thing to do is to recognize when even candidates you really like are, for whatever reason, just not going to get over the hump. This fits Charlie Crist, Beto O'Rourke, and (I'm sorry) Stacey Abrams. It's no knock on them -- seriously, it isn't -- but they're tainted goods at this point. Fortunately, Democrats have a deep bench of excellent young candidates who we can turn to next time around.
  • And regarding the youth -- I'm not someone who's a big fan of the perennial Democratic sport of Pelosi/Schumer sniping. I think they've both done a very good job under difficult circumstances, and deserve real credit for the successes we saw tonight and across the Biden admin more broadly. However, we do need to find room for some representatives from the younger generation to assume leadership roles. Younger voters turned out hard for the Democratic Party and deserve their seat at the table. It says something that Hakeem Jeffries, age 52, is the immediate current leadership figure springing to mind as a "young" voice -- that (and again, there's no disrespect to Jeffries here) is not good enough.