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.