Webb Wrap: What does the 2020 election mean for America? . . . Macdonald refutes Webb on federalism . . . Transition plans and legislative leadership to be announced today

It’s going to take some smart analysis to really figure out what happened in the 2020 election and where it leaves us as a country.

It’s not particularly surprising that a Democratic president would be elected by a razor-thin margin (assuming Biden wins), while Republicans maintain control of the Senate and even pick up a handful of seats in the House.

But what is surprising is that this outcome so completely defied all predictions, expectations and polling data. It upended the assumptions of the mainstream news media and the political establishment.

So why were these results badly missed? And what does it mean? Who are, and will be, the winners and losers?

Was Donald Trump and his dominating presence responsible for the surprises? Did working class, middle America wake up and vote? Has the elite class been oblivious to the opinions and sentiments of about half of America? Has the left wing of the Democratic Party been chastised and humbled?

Does it mean further dysfunction and gridlock in Washington, D.C.? Or does it mean negotiation and compromise so both sides can point to accomplishments?

Will Trump attempt to continue to lead the Republican Party? Can anyone motivate the base like he has? If Trump is no longer striding across the political landscape, does his passionate base also leave the political stage and retreat into the shadows?

Will the various wings of the Democratic Party bicker, blame and fight for the soul of the party? And what is the soul of the Democratic Party?

I don’t have answers to many of these questions, but they’re worth asking and worth trying to answer. There could be opportunity ahead for the country, or there could be more dysfunction and immediate positioning for the 2022 midterm election.

Reader Response. From Doug Macdonald, longtime economist in state government and now an economic consultant with Econowest Associates, responding to my Wednesday essay on balanced federalism:

“Wow, LaVarr, I was so surprised at your diatribe against the “monolith” Federal Government. The late R. Thayne Robson, professor of business economics at the University of Utah, always would lecture me on how important a role the federal government played stimulating our state after World War II.  Hill Air Force Base, the IRS Center, BLM and the Forest Services all played roles in stabilizing the state economy after the war.

“Sure, when you think about it the federal government seems pretty big and awesome. But those 22 or so departments are just made up of talented workers that try to do their best every day.  Hey, last week I received my monthly Social Security check.  That didn’t happen without some planning and hard work.  I went to my mail box and received 40 pieces of mail over the last week, and it seems to come to my box correctly about 99 times out of 100.  When I went up to Layton to eat a burger or some sushi, I’m not worried about salmonella because of the state/federal partnership in inspecting meat plants and restaurant.

“And when I heard those jets overhead fly by at nearly the speed of sound, I’m happy that those talented flyboys are in those cockpits instead of me.  Take it from a former state budget analyst and economist for 33 years — the Governor and Mayors have enough on their plates without worrying about all the other functions that the feds perform.”

Happening Today. Gov. Herbert, Gov.-elect Cox, and Lt. Gov.-elect Henderson will announce their transition plans today at 10:15 a.m. at the Capitol. No audience will be permitted, but the news conference will be streamed live at www.facebook.com/GovGaryHerbert and at www.facebook.com/spencer.j.cox.7>

Also today, the Utah Senate and House Republican majorities will announce their 2021/22 leadership teams. However, there won’t be much drama because the current leadership teams are expected to be returned for another term. At 6:30 p.m., following adjournment of majority caucus meetings, where leadership elections will take place, Utah Senate leadership media availability can be accessed here. And House leadership media availability can be accessed here.

Parting Shot. It’s great that Amendment G was approved, providing more flexibility in the use of state income tax revenue. But that doesn’t entirely solve the state’s tax imbalance. More needs to be done — and it’s a truly thankless job.

It’s unfortunate that Prop 9 failed. It would have created checks and balances in Utah County’s governance structure with a mayor and five city council members. Citizens would have been better represented than is the case with the current county commission. Civic-minded Utah County residents need to keep working on this.

If you have a comment, an item you think should be publicized, or just want to tell me I’m an idiot, shoot me a message at [email protected].