Late Wednesday afternoon, as the all-news cable stations droned on reporting votes being counted from Tuesday’s presidential election in battleground states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada, Falls Church’s own U.S. Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr. checked in with the News-Press to share his perspective and that of the national Democratic Party in these most interesting of times.
At the time of his reporting to us, he said the New York Times was predicting that Pennsylvania was going for Democratic nominee in former Vice President Joe Biden over President Donald Trump. If that turns out to be true, then with Biden having been declared the projected winner in both Wisconsin and Michigan, Biden would have the 270-plus electoral votes needed to be declared the winner, the next president of the U.S.
(No wonder Trump was in court seeking to stop the counting of votes in Pennsylvania.)
Clearly, Beyer was exuding cautious confidence in this outcome. Things were much better than how he was feeling the night before when he, and most Democrats, went to bed in the wee hours of Wednesday with considerably less enthusiasm, especially as Trump went on TV to, entirely groundlessly, declare himself the winner.
In Tuesday’s election, Beyer himself won by one of his usual landslides (with 80 percent of the vote over his GOP challenger this time). The Little City’s proverbial “Favorite Son,” his role as a local businessman with his brother
Mike led to a term as president of the local Chamber of Commerce in the late 1980s before he ran and won an underdog statewide race for lieutenant governor of Virginia in 1989. He’s since sold the successful family business, Beyer Automotive, to his brother, and devotes all his time to being one of the most effective members of the U.S. Congress.
Beyer was not entirely upbeat about Tuesday’s election, noting that his party failed to win control of the U.S. Senate as hoped, meaning that it will still have to contend with Sen. Mitch McConnell’s leadership in that body. Democrats also had their majority trimmed in the House.
As a result, “It is going to take a lot of effort to hold onto the House in 2022,” Beyer said. He noted that only twice has the party occupying the White House held onto its House majority (1934 and 2002).
But underlying that challenge will be that of healing the current deep division in the country, and that is a tougher order and not so clearly defined, Beyer said.
“Sixty million Americans voted for someone who treats women so terribly, who is an obvious racist and cares only about himself and no others,” Beyer said. “As a person I couldn’t possibly admire him as a role model.”
How do you go from that to healing the country? “Well, we’re all imperfect human beings, even if we are all creatures of the Enlightenment that involved the advocacy of reason, progress, and the Enlightenment’s commitment to the equality of all persons. But not everyone shares that legacy.”
The challenge is to bring out the best in people, and for that, he assigns a lot of potential to a Biden presidency focused on uplifting the “soul of America.” Biden, he said, has a great talent in projecting values of kindness, decency, unity and courage.
“Biden did really well in almost every respect” during the campaign Beyer said, even if it was Trump’s mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic that may have made the single biggest difference in the electoral outcome. Trump had good economic and employment numbers to boost him, but when the pandemic hit, he mismanaged the situation so poorly, insisting it will effectively disappear, that he squandered any advantage he might have had otherwise.
With the current deep divide, Beyer stressed, it will take Biden’s continued leadership and “a new emphasis on our interpersonal connections” to address it.
“My friends now all voted almost 100 percent for Biden,” he said. “I am going to have to find some new Trump friends that I can engage deeply.”