The day after the election last week, Roger Kimball posted a column here at The Spectator World acknowledging that he had no explanation for the failure of the vaunted red wave to sweep in from the sea. I had no explanation either, and still don’t after six days of ruminating on the question. Nevertheless I am forming a couple of tentative theories, in however provisional a way.

Early this morning, I received a post from one Sasha Stone — a Substack writer previously unknown to me — titled “Joe Biden: The Man Who Wasn’t There.” Miss...

The day after the election last week, Roger Kimball posted a column here at The Spectator World acknowledging that he had no explanation for the failure of the vaunted red wave to sweep in from the sea. I had no explanation either, and still don’t after six days of ruminating on the question. Nevertheless I am forming a couple of tentative theories, in however provisional a way.

Early this morning, I received a post from one Sasha Stone — a Substack writer previously unknown to me — titled “Joe Biden: The Man Who Wasn’t There.” Miss Stone argues that the president and his party escaped “a midterm wipeout” despite his extreme unpopularity and his inability to address such issues of monumental importance as the highest inflation in 40 years, an international invasion across the southwestern border, high crime rates, and so forth, simply by subtracting himself from the campaign. Other Democratic candidates, notably John Fetterman, did the same.

“So far,” Stone writes, “the Democrats have managed to eke out slim victories in 2020 and 2022 with candidates who are so bland no one even knows who they are. They have been deliberately hidden from view.” She continues, “The Democrats don’t really need a president, as it turns out. They can run things just fine with a guy who is barely there. They have become a hive mind, in total alignment with the media, social media, and a new class of corporate wealth that relies on the ‘woke’ religion the Democrats are mandating to keep themselves in power.”

Joe Sobran couldn’t have put it better.

Biden, I’ve been thinking recently, is a phantom president. Democratic voters found him too inconsequential to be worthy even of blame for the mess the country is in and so proceeded to vote for their preferred candidates at the state and local levels. Viewed this way, the results of the election begin to make sense. The country is famously divided, nearly exactly. The races, with some stellar exceptions such as those in Florida, were as thin as razor wire on top of a stretch of border wall.

Also, if 2022 was not a red wave, it was certainly not a blue one either. Even Biden, commenting from afar in Columbia or the Arabian sands or wherever he imagines he has just met President Xi, has acknowledged that the Democrats will not take the House. Thus, the electoral results agree with the pre-election polls showing an extremely tight race in the making. What remains to be explained is how an electorate the same polls showed to be divided between voters who think the country is going in the wrong direction and those who believe it is moving the right one — roughly 75 percent to 25 percent — could have failed to have given the party that is currently out of power in Washington three quarters of the national vote.

The thing is a mystery that can be explained only by the fact that the 75 percent is comprised not solely by Republicans but some Democrats and independents as well, who might have crossed over to vote for moderate Republican candidates but did not. They must have decided that, inept and destructive as the present blue administration is, a red one would be no better, and probably worse. Obviously, the dissuasive factor in their thinking was Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans.

It is easy to see why. Trump, the best and most productive (in the positive sense) president in my lifetime, should have won reelection easily in 2020. Instead, he lost through his self-indulgent refusal to moderate his personal style and make himself appealing to the people he needed to win over (mainly suburban females who had hitherto supported the GOP). This precluded the worst and most radical president in the history of the Republic from taking office, a catastrophe for which he Trump is personally to blame.

Further, in the nearly two years since his departure from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Trump has behaved atrociously. He has become a purely destructive force in American politics with no proper political agenda. All that drives him is the semi-sane determination to achieve personal revenge, self-justification, and the assuaging of the bitterness that make him useless in politics henceforth. He is an Ahab incapable of harpooning ordinary whales in his monomaniacal hunt for the white one. The present and immediate challenge for the Republican Party is how — and how quickly — to be rid of him, while maintaining the better part of the MAGA movement.

The answer lies not in the swamps of the Potomac, but those of the Floridian cypress groves.