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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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Featured image by Brandon Stivers via Shutterstock.