The Day After Election Day 2020
I’ve as much business as anyone mouthing off about an election in which votes are still being counted. Which is to say I really have no business doing so at all.
That isn’t going to stop me, although I’m going to limit myself to a few observations and implications:
• In a binary situation, there are some things we should be able to agree about.
First and foremost I’d put the absence of open violence and armed voter intimidation in the success column. I’m not talking about the ongoing efforts of one shrinking political party to limit the franchise. I’m talking about what in my darkest moments I feared was possible: ‘citizen militias’ showing up at polling places in multiple states. Maybe our civil disagreements can remain heated, but civil.
• There will be plenty of time for autopsies but we need a body first.
I stayed up well past my Benjamin Franklin bedtime and arose before dawn. At each end of my shortened slumbers, talkers and writers were hard at work, explaining away the world as they saw it at that moment. Sure, there are questions. Aren’t there always? Is polling broken? Was the existence of Silent Trump Supporters proven? Whose strategic missteps mattered more? I’m as interested as anyone, but really, don’t we all deserve a break? I kind of feel wrung out.
• As an idea, civic religion may have been oversold.
For months, I’ve listened to pundits talk about the sacredness of American elections and always thought, what malarkey. Religion belongs in your favorite house of worship on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Politics is transactional and that’s not a bad thing. It means the folks voting against your candidate (who may be friends, neighbors or relatives) don’t think the offered policies will much benefit them, nothing more or less. That’s not a failure, it’s a raging success.
• Whatever the ultimate outcome, this year’s electorate has sent a message.
Bear with me as I dust off an old grad school truism: response–whether aggregated or individual–contains information. Understanding that information is where the value lies. Here’s the number one fact: at least 60 million Americans (9:22 AM, 11/5/2020, Washington Post) agreed with enough of President Trump’s message and past actions to say he deserves four more years. They just can’t be ignored or disparaged.
Emotions about politics have never been higher. I think we’d all benefit from turning the temperature down.
But I’ve also been told I think too much.