Election Day Silver Linings!

Walking to the polls on Election Day, I suddenly had a vision of all my neighbors trying to break out of the doldrums by voting for Curtis Sliwa for mayor.

Sliwa was the nominee of the desperate, massively outnumbered New York City Republican Party, and while he has plenty of conservative positions on issues like mandatory vaccinations (no), he is better known as an animal lover who has 17 cats in a studio apartment he shares with his wife.

On Tuesday, Sliwa’s big moment involved an attempt to bring a kitty into the polling site. It was one of several dust-ups between the candidate and the election workers that ended with his ballot jamming the scanning machine.

At about that point I suddenly wondered: What if this guy wins? It was not an outcome most people had ever considered, for obvious reasons. But gee, the country was in such a foul mood, the status of the Biden administration so subterranean. The image of Congress wasn’t really much better than that apartment full of cats. What if, just to show their profound irritation, the voters went Sliwa?

Didn’t happen. The winner, Eric Adams, a Democrat, is a former police officer who ran a smooth campaign about his plans for reforming crime-fighting in New York. Early results suggest Sliwa will be very, very lucky to get a third of the vote. I am sharing this because I know a lot of you need some happy political news to tell friends over the weekend.

Some Possible Post-Election Conversational Strategies for Liberal Democrats:

— Find a few next-generation stars to burble over, even if they just got elected to your town’s zoning board of appeals.

— Funny stories about other cats.

— Ranting about Joe Manchin.

Perhaps you noticed that, just before Election Day, Senator Manchin called a press conference to announce that he wasn’t sure he could support Joe Biden’s social services program because of his concern about the “impact it’ll have on our national debt.”

Given Manchin’s super-status as a Democratic swing vote, we certainly have to pay attention to his fiscal conservatism and obsession with the national debt. After we stop to muse — just for a minute — that his state, West Virginia, gets about $2.15 in federal aid for every dollar its residents send to Washington.

But back to the positive side of the elections — or at least the less-depressing-than-originally-perceived side. That big governor’s race in Virginia, won by the Republican, Glenn Youngkin, was maybe the worst blow of the evening for Democrats. But when you’re having those dinner table conversations — or, hey, drinking heavily at a bar — be sure to point out that the loser, Terry McAuliffe, is a former Virginia governor. His state seems to have a real problem with chief executives who hang around, and there’s a law that makes it impossible for a sitting governor to run for re-election. McAuliffe was trying for a comeback after his enforced retirement — a feat that’s been achieved only once since the Civil War.

Didn’t work. Will you be surprised to hear that Donald Trump is taking credit?

The other governor’s race, in New Jersey, was way more dramatic than expected, with incumbent Philip Murphy fighting off a surprisingly strong challenge from Republican Jack Ciattarelli, a former assemblyman. Very possible this one could still be in recount purgatory during the holidays.

I really hope Murphy, a rather fearless leader in the war against Covid, is not being punished for vaccine mandates and mandatory school masking, which Ciattarelli complained about endlessly. Or that the irritable voters wanted to get back at their governor for remarking, a few years ago, that if you’re a person whose only concern is tax rates, New Jersey is “probably not your state.”

Ciattarelli reportedly spent about $736,000 running that quote in a 10-day broadside of ads. But I’ll bet most New Jersey voters accept the governor’s view, however grudgingly. Almost all of them must have some state concerns besides taxes — schools? Street lighting? The end of black bear hunting?

Fortunately, you won’t be expected to argue that Tuesday was one of the great days in the history of American democracy. Otherwise, some detail-oriented colleague might mention that a House district near Columbus was won by the chairman of the Ohio Coal Association.

Yeah, and Minneapolis failed to pass its public safety program. It seems that Seattle will end up with a new law-and-order mayor rather than criminal justice reform.

On the other hand, there were loads of stories to remind you how our country, for all its multitudinous failures to live up to the American dream, still also manages to come through. A lot. Boston elected its first woman and first person of color as mayor. Pittsburgh and Kansas City, Kan., each elected its first Black mayor. Cincinnati chose an Asian American mayor, and Dearborn, Mich.’s next mayor is going to be an Arab American Muslim.

Cheer up, people. We made it through another election. Take the holidays off from politics if you want. Just ignore the new flood of emails asking you to donate to some worthy candidate’s quest for a House seat in 2022. What’s the rush? You’ll hear from them again next week. And the week after that. …

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