Alan Zendell, November 2, 2020
The only thing our sharply divided country seems to agree on is that tomorrow’s election is the most crucial one in our lifetimes. When you hear a ninety-year-old say that, it means it’s more critical than FDR’s elections that resulted in the New Deal and the massive industrial buildup that enabled us to defeat the Axis powers in World War 2. It’s more important than the election of Dwight Eisenhower who shepherded us through the early days of the Cold War like a kindly old uncle, more important than the Kennedy and Johnson elections which brought us Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Vietnam War, and the Nixon elections which extended the war and introduced a brand of dirty politics that was the precursor of what we’ve seen for the last five years.
The country changed course with Reagan and Bush 41, then back again with Clinton, when we actually achieved a balanced budget for a short time. The Bush 43 election took us to the brink when the Florida vote count had to be decided by the Court. We thought we’d dodged a bullet when Al Gore chose to concede rather than drag the country into litigation that could have exploded into a constitutional crisis, and the Obama election in the midst of the worst financial crisis since 1929 made us believe we’d “rounded the curve” in racial equality. It turned out that we hadn’t rounded that curve any more than we brought the COVID pandemic under control.
With sixty percent of the expected votes already cast, the forty percent of us who will vote today and tomorrow will set the course of the country for a generation. Will we move further down the road to fascism, autocracy, and minority suppression that Trump has put us on? Will we re-elect a president who considers the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans insignificant collateral damage on his way to being crowned emperor? Will we relegate decency and morality to a place so far in our past we can barely remember it? Finally, will those of us earning enough that we’ll never want for anything allow our vote to be bought by promises of lower taxes that are unsustainable no matter who wins?
We’ve been through hell in 2020, but we have a chance to make the holidays a new beginning. This election can be about improving the future for the next generation and ending the politics of divisiveness and intimidation. It’s about reviving respect for science and the health of our planet, about reining in extremists of every stripe and color. It is not about the cult of Trumpism, conspiracy theories, or fears that AOC will control a Biden administration. Forget the bull and the hype. Just think about the world your children will inherit.
Four years ago, we prayed that Donald Trump would grow into the job, would turn out to be a better man than we thought he was. He hasn’t done either. He is as selfish, greedy, narcissistic and power-mad today as he was in 2016. He has weakened our standing in the world, shaken our alliances, and trampled over our Constitution. He has gifted North Korea, Iran, China, and Russia with power and influence that pose more of a long-term threat than ever. And now he has threatened the integrity of our elections like no other president ever attempted to.
The media are all over-reacting to the egg-on-their face complacency of 2016 by constantly reminding us not to believe the polls, but when they are as consistently one-sided as they have been this year, they can’t be disregarded. We’re also being told that an even bigger bullet than we dodged in the 2000 election is aimed at us, and to brace ourselves for a run-up to civil war if Trump doesn’t get his way, but it’s all just the noise and chaos Trump thrives on. If the polls are even close to accurate, we won’t be waiting until Thanksgiving to see who wins the court battles in Pennsylvania – they won’t matter. Critical states like Florida, Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina will have no trouble counting their votes tomorrow, and they should tell us what we need to know about the outcome.
Between now and late evening on Election Day I suggest ignoring television, news websites, and social media. You don’t need their input. Anyone who is still uncertain about who to vote for should probably stay home. For me, the decision comes down to the same question I asked four years ago. Do I prefer a president who makes me want to shoo children out of the room whenever he appears on TV or one who inspires them to be the best they can be?