The Country Takes a U-Turn

Four years ago, I remember the pits of despair at the election of Trump. Having friends who had worked on some of Trump’s projects, I knew what kind of man he was. I was afraid for the country. I was disappointed in my fellow citizens. That day, I was driving up to South Dakota, so had nine hours alone in my car to grieve and ruminate on how best to deal with what I knew was coming. I hoped I was wrong. I wasn’t.

But I do know the anger and despair so many Trump supporters are feeling today. Four years ago I didn’t believe there was any way enough people would fall for his con, or that he could possibly be elected. I trusted the polls. I trusted my fellow citizens. It’s part of why it was all so painful. So I get it. His supporters trusted Trump. They trusted him when he said the only way he could lose was if the Democrats cheated. His supporters surrounded themselves only with those that believe the same things and avoided anyone and anything that said anything different. They’ve believed everything he’s said for years. So to learn that he was wrong about this, is a gut punch. I saw their posts pre-election. They were 100% sure they were going to win. Been there, done that.

There are charges of fraud. If you have proof, then tell the proper authorities and let’s sort that out. I want a fair vote. I have no problem with a recount in Georgia or any other state where it’s necessary, because I want the count to be right, even if that means my candidate might lose the state. But that’s not good enough for his supporters. They only want in-person voting… so my friend who has a compromised immune system and rarely is able to go out in public, because she lives in South Dakota, where their complete lack of leadership has the virus raging out of control… she shouldn’t be allowed to have a voice? You’ve already taken away her freedom of movement, now she doesn’t get a vote?

And if you then say, “okay, she can vote by mail,” then what about me? I work with people who would likely die if they contracted the disease. I even have risk factors for getting a bad case msyelf. Should I be allowed to vote by mail? Yes? Okay, then we’re right back where we started. Each state did what they thought was best for their people, and they did it within their laws.

Trump fought to keep states from counting their mail in ballots early, counting on the anger and frustration his people would feel when they first saw him pull ahead with in-person voting, then day by day falling behind when the early voters’ ballots were counted. Those ballots were predominantly cast by Biden supporters because Trump told his people not to use mail-in ballots.

The fact that you weren’t prepared for the red-mirage, doesn’t mean you get to ask for a re-do and only count the ballots that went your way. Those votes were cast legally by the laws of each state, and if not, they have processes in place to catch those ballots. They are legally cast ballots and are valid. The only real way to commit fraud on the level required to alter the vote, is to reprogram the vote counting machines, and yet that’s not where we’re focused. Mail in voting has been done for over a hundred years, and is not the issue, regardless of what lies Trump spews.

The next few months are a bit scary. I see people posturing on social media, saying they’ve got the guns, and they’re going to war. Really? Have you thought it through? I mean really thought it through. Think about all the people you love. Your kids. Your parents, siblings, cousins, best friends, neighbors. Now pick a handful of them. Think about how much you love them. Now imagine lowering them into the ground and never seeing them again. Imagine your wife or husband being killed by a sniper as they went to buy groceries. Imagine your teenage son, who thought he would prove to you how tough he was, dead in the back of a pickup truck. Imagine going to bed at night, not sure if you’ll wake up, because your neighbors, who you once had barbecues with, might come over and kill you and your family in your sleep. Imagine never knowing if when you get in your car, there might be a car bomb strapped underneath. That’s civil war. People on your side die too. That’s what you are salivating for? Really?

I know the despair. I know the pain. When we were faced with a similar reality four years ago, when we were in despair, we held a march and we began to mobilize voter registration and a get-out-the-vote movements that lasted for the last four years. More people voted for Joe Biden than have ever voted for any president, so it clearly worked. If you don’t like the results, then get more people who think like you do, to vote. That’s how democracy works. That’s the American way. Ignoring the votes you don’t like is the authoritarian way.

When Obama was elected, I was so naive and looked forward to being a year into his term, knowing all those screaming that he was a Muslim, a communist, and a socialist, would see that he was none of those things and we could move forward together. I hadn’t factored in the disinformation machine that is Fox News.

This time I’m not naive. I no longer hope that a year into Biden’s term, the Trump supporters will come to realize that he’s not going to turn this country socialist. He’s not a communist. He’s not a pedophile. There are people who will continue to trust the latest conspiracy theory, even though the last 100 conspiracy theories they bought into, were proved not to be true. There are those who will never come around. But for those who begin to shake off all the lies they have heard in the last few years, we can move forward together, and hopefully the rest won’t go too far off the deep end while we make progress.

There was a joke going around the internet before the election. It went something like this:

There was a long line of people in line to vote early. Someone driving by slowed down, rolled down the window, and yelled, “How long have you been waiting?” And someone in line yelled, “Four years!.”

It’s been a long four years full of a great deal of pain for many, many people. Covid-19 is raging, and didn’t go away just because the election is over… yet another conspiracy theory proved wrong. We are going to suffer a great many more deaths before it gets better. It is going to take extraordinary effort by all of us to get it under control so we can get the economy and our lives back to normal. Our relationships with our allies are in tatters and trust is a difficult thing to rebuild. Authoritarian leaders around the world have been emboldened by our lack of leadership, and we’ll have to rebuild our reputation in order to deal with that. We need to rebuild our state department and intelligence agencies. Police and justice reform need to be tackled, and race relations repaired and strengthened. Our economy is struggling, with the poorest people suffering during this pandemic. It will take some incredibly remarkable policy and cooperation to end that suffering. We need to resolve our immigration and border problems. Climate change is causing disasters like we’ve never seen before.

I don’t envy Joe Biden and the mess he’s inherited, but I am grateful he stepped up and took on the task. I’m grateful we have leadership that believes in science, doctors, and facts. I’m grateful a man of morality and empathy is now leading our nation. I’m sorry if that upsets you. I wish it didn’t, because we have no desire to make conservatives cry.

Those of you willing to help, let’s get to work!

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