Democrats are understandably unhappy that they won’t get the same unchecked power in 2021, but leaving almost half of American voters without an element of federal power breeds considerable anger. Things were pretty tense leading up to the 2020 election, definitely more so than in 2016. If Democrats once again won the most votes without winning power, the left may have exploded in protest. Similarly, Republicans believing they did well and feeling optimistic about their future gives the right an offramp; a way to walk back from the brink while saving face.

If Republicans were staring down the barrel of total Democratic control — with worries that D.C. statehood and court-packing could reduce their power further — some might be more open to Trump’s un-American attempt to overturn the election. Some might even turn to violence. Instead, as bad as Trump’s attempt may be, much of the Republican establishment is trying to humor him while looking forward to obstructing Biden in the Senate, rather than putting their full support behind the effort.

It looks like the election accidentally produced an ideal result for letting America take a breath. Not many love it, but not many hate it either, and few are panicking over what their political enemies will be able to do. Republicans lost, yes, but they lost in a way that lets them tell themselves it was a moral victory, and that makes our volatile politics a little more stable.