To summon W.B. Yeats, we deserved the “rough beast, its hour come ‘round at last” that slithered into Washington decimating democratic institutions at home and American credibility throughout the world. Trump simply poured gasoline on the fire we had already started to destroy traditional American values after the end of the Cold War, then capped the ash heap with a dumpster-load of diabolical cruelty and stupefying incompetence. He has been a wake-up call we will forever condemn, and yet, tragically deserved.
For those of you wringing your hands over the results we are about to witness, continue wringing them. But, not for the actual votes cast—Biden will win that battle—rather, for the nefarious acts currently underway by the Trump campaign and our illegitimate Justice Department that are contriving incidents and arguments for our now-illegitimate Supreme Court to assure power remains in Trumplican hands. Chief Justice Roberts alone may not be able to save the Court. For this moment in American history, all three branches of our government are controlled by a minority that will do anything—regardless of laws or norms—to keep their boots on the necks of the majority. Bush v. Gore may prove a quaint predictor of what unfolds next. The Founders provided us with institutions (like the senate and electoral college) to keep the majority in check, but those structures have been inverted to paradoxically achieve the opposite: empowering and protecting minority rule.
With all three branches of our government compromised, preventing a stolen election largely depends on turnout. “2BIG2RIG” is the formula for excising the festering tumor of Trumplican deceits that have placed our republic in peril. As in 2016, the polls will be wrong. Pollsters have a very difficult time predicting results unless turnout mirrors historical voting patterns. In 2016, they undervalued non-college educated white rural voters that rendered their predictions agonizingly wrong. In 2020, the extraordinary levels of voter turnout and, most especially, the surge in young voters and returning voters of color strongly suggest that the historic patterns that guide polling and modeling have been shattered.
My mother, who wore her index finger raw on a rotary phone in the 1960s to 80s to cajole people into voting, would be proud of the 2020 turnout, which is already historic. This time, I expect it will be the Trumplicans grieving about how wrong the polls were; the results will reflect the power of those that pollsters failed to consider, or properly value. Those who prefer blue to red. And, while foreign hacking of the vote tally is also a concern, and is certainly being aided by the Trump administration, again, 2BIG2RIG should substantially dilute these effects as well.
Of course, with a nation awash in guns and hatred, there will be blood. People in Kansas have already been shooting each other over yard signs. Hopefully, incidents of ignorance and violence will remain isolated and contained. Depending on where you live, have a plan to hide until cooler heads prevail. Innocents are a bully’s first target. And, a wild-eyed steroidal idiot with an assault rifle may be itching to make his video-game fantasies come true.
When all votes have been counted, and relative calm returns, Obama’s “Hope and Change,” updated by Biden as “Build Back Better,” will return to our doorstep with Joe as its shepherd. Answer the door when you hear the bell. Take a deep breath. Take a nap. Hug yourself. Then, commit yourself anew; prepare to do the crucial work to save our future.
The new work—saving our future—must be founded in humility and purpose. Revenge is satisfying, but only for a moment. Evening the score will compromise unification that is so urgently needed to deal with issues like Covid-19 and climate change. Vice must be set aside in favor of virtue. Healing our scarred souls and embracing unity as our highest aim—e pluribus unum—must become, once again, our north star. Us vs. Them and Win-Lose scenarios have no place in our collective pursuit of redemption. Hate must be put asunder. America’s restoration lies in empowering others rather than coercive schemes of dominance.
We must shine the mighty light of the good to disinfect the bad. We must look into the eyes of our children and grandchildren and assure them, with sincerity equal to their innocence, that we’ve got this; that their lives will be as safe and prosperous as ours have been. We must hand them a torch worth carrying forth. Reason and science and humanism must return to the alter of American discourse. We have saved America from its enemies in the past, now we must save it from ourselves. We can do this. After all, we are (still) Americans.