“Things are going to get worse before they get better.”

That’s the standard line I’d shared with my left-leaning friends since November 2016—and especially over the past few months—whenever they asked me for some assurance that Donald Trump could be ousted and turned into a one-term president. “Yes, he’s going to lose,” my answer had always been. “But things are going to get worse before they get better.”

After the election, I find myself wondering if I got things reversed, and things are going to get better before they get worse.

Let’s start with the good news.

Joe Biden dominated Donald Trump in the popular vote and is on track to win 306 electoral votes (humblebrag: the exact number I predicted before the election)—a sizable win, and one that Trump’s sycophants described as a “landslide” back in 2016. Biden also appears to have flipped Georgia and Arizona, states that haven’t gone blue since Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. There were also no significant voting problems; thus far, the shambolic lawsuits from the president’s legal team have been laughed out of court by Democrat and Republican judges alike. And in an election with the highest voter turnout rate since 1908, Democrats will control the U.S. House of Representatives.

Here at home, Governor Roy Cooper’s exemplary leadership in handling the COVID-19 pandemic was rewarded as he decisively thumped Dan “He’ll Get You Sick and Then Leave You with the Bill” Forest. And as of this writing, it looks like Attorney General Josh Stein will be returning as well.

But there are some serious red flags in the results that suggest this country and our state still have a rough ride ahead.

Republicans have elected several new congresscritters who are just plain nuts, including open believers of QAnon—the Crusher Creel of conspiracy theories—like Representatives-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado. North Carolina isn’t exempt; we’re sending an Adolf Hitler enthusiast to Washington with the election of Madison Cawthorn, an accused sex pest and inveterate liar who decided to share with us the quality of his upbringing by tweeting “Cry more, lib” when he won.

That brand of lunacy will continue on the Council of State with the election of new Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson. Just the second Black person elected to statewide executive office in North Carolina (former State Auditor Ralph Campbell, Jr. was the first), Robinson became a darling of the GOP two years ago, after a diatribe on gun rights he delivered to the Greensboro City Council went viral. As a firearms enthusiast myself, I understood the appeal; that understanding didn’t extend to Republicans elevating a guy who rants about Jews running Hollywood, claims former First Lady Michelle Obama is a man, and somehow still thinks—with more than a quarter of a million dead Americans—that the coronavirus is a globalist hoax and no worse than the flu. But Robinson provides a useful Black face for Republicans to point to when they need to explain away the neo-Nazis rallying in their name, so you can expect more of this conduct to be excused away over the next few years.

You can also expect the same dysfunction in our state legislature, with Republicans gaining a handful of seats in the North Carolina state house while losing one in the state senate. The same muppets who were so inept that they couldn’t pass a budget on time despite controlling both chambers, and who appointed patently corrupt members to our university system’s Board of Governors, will get to continue grifting off the public for another two years.

And they’ll have a court system that will let them get away with it, as Republicans appear to have swept all of the appellate judicial races. That includes intellectual featherweight and son-of-the-senate-majority-leader Phil Berger, Jr., who will apparently be our newest associate justice on the state’s Supreme Court.

All with redistricting on deck for a fresh round of political gerrymandering that will last through the 2020s.

It’s going to take several months of data analysis to accurately figure out what went wrong for Democrats this election cycle. In particular, I wonder what grade of street pharmaceuticals one has to smoke to split one’s ballot for both Donald Trump and Roy Cooper at the same time, or to vote for both Roy Cooper and Mark Robinson. But Democrats will need to figure it out—fast—because midterms typically benefit the party opposing the president. That means Republicans are on deck to make even deeper gains in 2022, potentially returning them to the same legislative supermajorities of the last decade.

For now, though, let’s all enjoy the impending end of the error that is Donald Trump’s presidency. And enjoy things getting better before they get worse.

T. GREG DOUCETTE is a local attorney, criminal justice reform advocate, and host of the podcast #Fsck ’Em All. He continues to be a pain in the UNC System’s ass. Follow him on Twitter. Comment on this column at backtalk@indyweek.com

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