With one day to go, it should surprise no one that the election is the subject of today’s column.
I am not going to tell you how I voted, although I will tell you I did not vote for a third-party candidate for president as I did in 2016. There were a handful of other (state) races on my ballot, and I split my vote among Democrats and Republicans. That’s all I’m telling you.
With the onset of the pandemic in March, and with the ensuing quarantine, it took a while for the presidential race to gain traction as a news item. While President Trump was front and center talking about COVID, Joe Biden was holed up in his basement trying to get someone to listen to him.
(There are those who believe his confinement was a huge stroke of luck for him, allowing him less time to commit embarrassing verbal gaffes).
Once each accepted his party’s nomination (in a virtual fashion, although Trump managed to accept his in a rally-like setting on the lawn of the White House), the election became more newsworthy and each side began to campaign in earnest.
Tomorrow it will be over.
Or will it? Many believe we will not know the results tomorrow night. With record numbers taking advantage of absentee and mail-in ballots, votes could be counted for days to come.
On the other hand, with most polls indicating Biden has the lead, some pundits say we will have a clear winner before we turn in tomorrow night.
But we all remember four years ago when Hillary Clinton was all but measuring for drapes in the Oval Office. I suspect those predicting a rather easy Biden victory are not as confident as they might appear.
As I have previously written, I don’t like tired phrases such as “the most important election of our time” or “battle for the soul of the nation.” Every presidential election is important, and the soul of the nation has a habit of swinging back and forth with the pendulum of political cycles. So please spare me the buzz words.
I will, however, concede this year’s election is distinguishable from those in the immediate past. That’s because the entirety of this year has been nothing short of bizarre.
The pandemic has become one of the central issues, if not the central issue, of the race. I dare say if it had not happened and the economy had continued its upward trajectory, Trump would have easily defeated any Democratic opponent.
But the “China virus” as he calls it, to which he himself fell victim, has become a weapon for both candidates. It will go down in history as a definer of the Trump presidency, whether he wins or loses this time around.
The president says he’s handled it beautifully and we’re lucky we have him to lead us through it. Biden says the blood of 225,000 (and counting) is on Trump’s hands.
Before the pandemic, there was an impeachment, which now seems like ancient history if not a blip on the screen.
Over the summer, we once again dealt with the matter of racial injustice and faced the fact that, while we have made great strides, much work remains to be done.
As the campaigns were moving into the fall home stretch, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court. To be crass, her body wasn’t cold before Trump was talking about appointing her successor.
It would be difficult to say which party was more hypocritical in the handling of the appointment of Amy Coney Barrett. Going along with Trump and knowing they would have the votes to confirm, Senate Republicans said the nomination must proceed, election year be damned. With a collective straight face, they rhetorically asked why in the world an impending presidential election would prevent that from happening.
The president has a duty to carry out his duty under the Constitution, they said. Had there not been almost identical circumstances four years ago during Barack Obama’s last year of office, one might have believed them to have a point.
Obama appointed a fully qualified and distinguished jurist, Merrick Garland, to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. Because the GOP had the Senate majority, they were able to block the Garland appointment, pompously expressing how it was simply not appropriate to fill the vacancy so close to an election and with Obama leaving office – making the same argument the Dems made concerning the recent appointment (although, unlike Obama at the time, Trump could serve another term).
There are direct quotes from Congressional representatives from each side saying one thing in 2016 and taking the diametrically opposite view this year. Sometimes, as the citizenry, it’s hard not to believe they all think we either have super short memories and/or we’re stupid.
Moving on, the presidential and vice-presidential debates were, at best, an exercise in futility and at worst, an embarrassment, especially the first one. And just when you thought you had seen it all, President Trump walked out of an interview on 60 Minutes.
More than anything, I believe this year has served as a reminder of how divided we are, with little room for tolerating the other side. You might have your own ideas for where that comes from, but I’m an ardent believer that social media, which provides everyone a platform to say on a screen what they would never say to someone’s face, is the main driver.
I am exasperated hearing that, because I live in the South, because I’m a Christian, or because I am this or that, my choice is clear. It’s as if some folks believe they’ve received divine revelation not only as to how they should vote, but how I should. (And I don’t even have a social media account).
Finally, I am completely baffled by the growing fear of civil unrest (from either side, depending on the outcome) once the winner is declared. For 240-plus years in this country, despite bitter rivalries and disappointments, we have had peaceful transitions of power and election results have been honored.
Surely we have not descended so far that there would be any kind of uprising that would challenge the will of the people.
I’m hoping against hope, later this week, my thoughts on that will be confirmed.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at [email protected].