As Election Day approaches, I have found my mood oddly vacillating: at times, gripped by a fanatical focus on a Biden victory and an attendant Trump defeat; at other moments, strikingly detached. I truly fear that the consequences I have alluded to in these pages over the last several years will befall our nation and the world if President Trump is re-elected, but when at emotional remove realize that the American dream depends upon our ability to see ourselves as one people. If we can’t, we aren’t. If enough of us aren’t able to grasp the significance of what he is – a close friend recently wrote me, “Reinforcing a lying cheating vulgar human being with a win is just too much to consider” – or discern the corrosive nature of what Mr. Trump has unloosed, he really isn’t the issue; the poison is within us. I have heard projections that the President will lose the popular vote by at least the 3 million margin by which he lost in 2016; there seems the possibility that in a year of record turnout, he’ll lose by significantly more if all votes are counted. Even if Mr. Trump legitimately wins the election under the Constitution’s Electoral College formula – or worse, is awarded a disputed victory in bitterly contested litigation with Justice Amy Coney Barrett casting the deciding vote in the Supreme Court — how long will we hold together as a people when a shrinking minority seeks to control a growing majority via constitutional stranglehold?
“A lady asked Dr. Franklin, ‘Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?’ ‘A republic,’ replied the Doctor, ‘if you can keep it.’”
- Notes of Maryland Constitutional Convention Delegate James McHenry
“[T]hat agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed. ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.’ … I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”
- Abraham Lincoln
“This is a very trying issue for our time: the individual’s right to be free and the individual’s respect for others. One hopes that we can reason together …”
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life … in my mind, it was a tall proud city … God blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace …”
- Ronald Reagan
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
- Mark, 3:24-25
I see our hope in a Biden victory. Although far from a panacea — we will need to address the poison that has metastasized beyond our hateful fringes — I am hopeful that Mr. Biden – by his very nature, inoffensive – will lance the mysterious spell gripping what I truly believe is the significant majority of Trump supporters, and we can move from the existential to a good faith debate about the best approach to address “mere” issues such as the Coronavirus, justice for all of our citizens, the global economy, the environment, our ballooning deficit, and America’s role in the world.
May God still have a modicum of mercy for the United States of America.
2 thoughts on “Election Eve Reflections”
Readers have probably not done enough to thank you for the Noise. It’s been a valued source of rationality for many months and we are indebted to you for your efforts. I trust it has also been therapeutic for you. I agree with your latest post that as a nation, we will need to come together to address the many imminent challenges. I don’t believe that can happen until the cancer threatening our survival has been removed. Should Biden win, it will be incumbent on his supporters not to gloat (ok, perhaps a quiet exhale of relief!), but to start rolling up our sleeves to work across the aisle(s) to address the major issues.
Many thanks for the gracious comments (you come through as “Anonymous” on my side of the blog, so I can’t address you by name). I do enjoy having a mechanism to express my views – it has indeed been therapeutic for me – but enjoy at least as much the personal interactions and alternative informed responses that posting has fostered. I obviously agree that no substantive progress will be made upon our nation’s problems if Mr. Trump is re-elected, but also absolutely agree that if – a view we share – our nation is fortunate enough to have Mr. Biden succeed Mr. Trump, our foremost challenge and opportunity among the legion of outsize issues his Administration and Congress must address is not the environment, or our deficit, or foreign policy, or even the virus; it is to heal our divisions – to get all but the fringes back on board. All but hateful Trump supporters deserve respect and should have their views and concerns taken into account. I truly believe that all of the other issues facing us can be effectively if not easily addressed if we regain some coherence of spirit; none can be if we cannot. If he wins, I think Mr. Biden and the Democratic command will be savvy enough to avoid gloating. At least – we can hope!