Our Viewpoint: The consequences of an election

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The news of Joe Biden’s election has many of us awaking as from a tortured dream.  Democrats who had forgotten in only four years how it feels to win a national election took to the streets and reveled in victory.

We have learned that discipline and pragmatic action, even on behalf of a candidate who might have not topped everyone’s list at the beginning, is the way to win a national election. People understood the moral imperative to get rid of Donald Trump, and they acted.

With discipline and unity, people came together to vote, even in the challenging circumstances of a pandemic. Congratulations to the poll workers who pulled off an election in the midst of the pandemic, and to people like Stacey Abrams in Georgia, who focused on ensuring the rights of people to vote. It made a difference.

The crucial importance of Biden’s victory in preserving our fragile democracy is only confirmed by the fact that Trump still seeks to undermine the election and blow up the democratic norms and the conventions of a peaceful transfer of power.

Closer to home, there were lessons to be learned from voters in Portland and in Maine, although they seem contradictory. Voters returned Susan Collins to the Senate, which confirmed a couple of things: The power of incumbency with a familiar and in some ways effective senator, is almost impossible to overcome, and, in a sobering lesson about the occasional provincialism of Maine voters, Collins’ attacks on Gideon for being “from away” were effective.

We would hope, without much evidence yet, that without the threat of an impending election Collins might step up and assert the independence she claims to possess.

Even closer to home, Portland voters backed a series of measures, including minimum wage hikes and rent control, which could help workers and others who struggle to make ends meet, and have been priced out of the local real estate market.

For years, the City Council and city manager have promoted the rapid development of high-end condominiums, transforming Portland into a haven for the rich. Even within a generation, the affordable housing market has withered, and working-class and middle-class people are priced out of a market geared towards wealthy out-of-staters.

Let’s hope the council pays attention to the message and takes action to help narrow these gaps, and keep the city affordable.

While important decisions were made Nov. 3, much work remains to be done.