Excuse my naiveté; I thought this was a nation of decency.

At least I will never have to say, “Well, yes, but…” in discussions about the 2020 U.S. election. 

But on this day after the final day of voting, I take little comfort in that.

Vote counting continues in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania as I write, at 4 p.m. CST on November 4. Wisconsin has been called for the Biden-Harris ticket, but the vote margin is so close that Trump-Pence will request a recount, which means Wisconsin is still in play.

I will be delighted if Joe Biden becomes president-elect and Kamala Harris becomes vice president-elect, but regardless of what happens in the presidential race, this election has been demoralizing.

No matter what the final count amounts to, about half of U.S. voters have cast their lots with Donald Trump and Trumpism.

Section Break

Clearly, 2016 was not an anomaly.  

Anyone who believed Trump’s win in 2016 was the result of too many people being complacent or too many voters casting ballots for third-party candidates or whatever, they were dead wrong. 

Graphic of upside-down U.S. flag, representing patriotism that's upside-down. original by Dragana Stojanovic

The reality is that, even though about half of U.S. voters see Trump for what he really is and the danger he poses to our democracy, a different half of American voters actually like him, how he behaves and what he does. 

After all of his lies, his destruction of democratic norms and institutions, pandering to tyrants around the world, cozying up with white supremacists, degradation and vilification of women, veterans, black, indigenous and people of color, failures with Covid-19 and non-response to climate-change-driven emergencies in states that he didn’t carry in the 2016 election…

Even after all of that, about half of U.S. voters chose Trump. 

They expressed their tacit approval of bullying, criminal behavior, cruelty, dishonesty, duplicity, environmental and planetary destruction, marginalization of LGBTQ+ people, rampant racism, sexism and violence. 


Section Break

I hoped a considerable majority of my fellow U.S. citizens were still on the side of decency, honesty and integrity. That, like me, they wanted to protect democracy. I wanted – perhaps even expected – a repudiation.

There was no repudiation. On the contrary, this election was a validation. About half of U.S. voters went to the polls and said, emphatically, YES!, to everything Trump and Trumpism.

I know what they might say: 

  • “Well, yes, I think he should quit calling white supremacists ‘fine people,’ but I like what he’s done with the economy.” (He’s done nothing for working people.)
  • “Well, yes, it’s true his policy of separating children from their parents is disturbing, but I like that he’s been appointing pro-life judges.” (Women’s rights have indeed taken a beating.)
  • “Well, yes, he put kids in cages, but I like that he did everything he promised he was going to do.” (He didn’t).


Graphic by John Pavlovitz
Graphic by John Pavlovitz

In my judgement, a vote for a racist demonstrates one’s own racism. A vote for a misogynist reveals one’s own disdain for women. A vote for a fascist indicates disregard for democracy. 

I’ve been naïve. About half of U.S. voters have made that quite clear.

The reality is the United States of America I believed in does not exist. Probably never did. It is not a model of democratic government, not a thousand points of light and certainly not a shining city on the hill.

Biden-Harris might win, and I’ll be happy for it. Even so, I will always view this election as a crushing defeat. 

No, I’ll never have to justify myself with, “Well, yes, but….”

But today, that’s no consolation.

Black outlined graphic indicating copyright 2020 Martin C. Fredricks IV

Thank you for reading. Please consider supporting IV Words with a donation to the blog.

Featured image by Brandon Stivers via Shutterstock.

Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. “Red” Fredricks IV here. I’m husband to an amazing woman who is also my best friend, dad to three outstanding kids, Fargoan (North Dakota, that is), proud introvert, veteran messaging strategist/copywriter, blogger (https://ivwords.com) nonprofit founder (https://theclimateknights.org/) and big-time reader. As they say, if you're gonna write good stuff, you have to read good stuff. A ginger, too - ergo the "Red" - although some of it's going white. Cinnamon-Sugar, I call it. Tattooed to boot; seven so far. At age 54, I'm stilling crankin' AC/DC & Metallica, but now and again I spin some Eric Church and Black Uhuru, too. I love hanging out with my (much) better half, spending time with our kids, writing, hiking, riding my mountain bike and reading.


bz · November 5, 2020 at 10:47 am

“How Do We Fix This Mess?”

The news is dandy in that there are a lot of a sound ideas being passed around. Really serious messes, like the one this country is in, do not, in my experience, have simple, definitive solutions. And if they do, such solutions are politically impossible. We are looking for progress, not perfection, so anyone who tells you the entire tax code should fit on a postcard is a bona fide, certified, chicken-fried moron. […]

Uh, how about we address the problem that our entire political system is corrupt, that it has been corrupted by corporate money, and that we have government of corporate interests, by corporate interests and for corporate interests — and that we really need to change that, instead of trying to raise more corporate money than Republicans?

~ Molly Ivins speaking at Scripps College – November, 2005

Just some wee proof that there’s nothing new. We’ve been told & warned over and over.

jodeeb · November 5, 2020 at 9:30 am

I felt exactly this way yesterday. And I’ve thought a lot about things in the 24 hours since I said something at a business meeting that was true for me and got, well, pretty much scolded. While I took a hit for about an hour yesterday, I’m ready to stand back up. Not to fight, but to stand. I’d love to chat more about this …

    Martin C. Fredricks IV · November 5, 2020 at 9:35 am

    Thanks for your comments, Jodee. I’m with you. Living where I live for my entire life, I’ve learned the only thing for someone who thinks the way I do can do is stand back up.

bz · November 4, 2020 at 7:10 pm

Going forward i will very likely as who a person i may have to deal with this question:
“Did you vote for Trump or America?”
If they answer “Trump”, the next question is: “Are you ignorant or just evil?”
And then i’ll turn away and find someone else to interact with, because i can’t reasonably expect to have a good interaction regardless of which answer they give.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect suggests they can only respond with anger, expressed or not.

One must not happily suffer fools.

danielwalldammit · November 4, 2020 at 5:44 pm

It really is a sobering thing, realizing just how many Americans are willing to support this train wreck. I will not forget those that supported him. Never.

    Martin C. Fredricks IV · November 4, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    Sobering indeed. That makes two of us.

Paul Jensen · November 4, 2020 at 5:23 pm

At least we in the future will make ourselves no illusions. We know what we have to deal with, now it’s just about how. Profiles are clear. Every second person you meet when walking around is that profile. 🙂

    Martin C. Fredricks IV · November 4, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    You’re absolutely right, Paul.

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