It’s ironic to write about the election aftermath when doubts are sown by people who don’t believe math. While it’s bad enough not to believe in science, math is definitive.
There is no alternative answer for 2 plus 2. There is no wiggle room in 270, the number of electoral votes it takes to win the office of president of the United States. As a bonus, president-elect Joe Biden garnered almost 6 million more popular votes than his opponent.
The campaign was relatively civil, except for that wacky debate. But, who knew counting the ballots would turn into a cage match? We were warned, that because of the unprecedented number of mail-in ballots, election night would turn into election week. We were advised to be patient.
Americans are not patient.
You’d think when the votes are tabulated congratulations would commence and a concession speech would occur. That didn’t happen. Here we are, trapped in a Twilight Zone of disbelief, denial and discord. We’re in a leadership vacuum where the president watches his power melt away.
The evidence-free charade of voter fraud conspiracies circulates like urban legends. Baseless court cases challenge the legitimacy of the results. Citizens claim the election was stolen and protest in the streets. Millions of ballots are re-counted by hand to assure accuracy. Hurt feelings are palpable. Unprecedented, spiteful non-cooperation substitutes for the orderly transition of power. With a COVID vaccine looming, the president-elect’s team is denied access to crucial information and coordination.
America looks dysfunctional, like the wheels are coming off the world’s greatest democracy.
Homeland Security put out a statement with state and local officials that countered fraud claims. A broad coalition of top government and industry professionals declared that the Nov. 3 voting and the following count unfolded smoothly, with no more than the usual minor hiccups. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency repudiated efforts to undermine the integrity of the contest and echoed repeated assertions by election experts and officials.
Tuesday, Chris Krebs, director of the agency was fired by Tweet, by the loser of the election.
I know what it’s like to be disappointed in an election outcome. I’ve also held my nose and voted. In 1971, the Twenty-sixth Amendment to the Constitution lowered the minimum voting age from 21 to 18. I voted in my first presidential election in 1972.
Incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon ran against Senator George McGovern, (D-SD). McGovern stumbled early. He selected Thomas Eagleton as his running mate, only to learn later that the senator from Missouri had undergone treatment for mental illness. A political firestorm erupted over whether a man with a history of mental illness should be next in line to become commander in chief in the nuclear age.
McGovern declared himself to be “1,000%” behind Eagleton, then dropped him from the ticket. If selecting a vice president is the first presidential decision that a nominee makes, by choosing and then rejecting Eagleton, McGovern, had admitted he made the wrong decision. Although Sargent Shriver, John Kennedy’s brother-in-law and architect of Kennedy’s Peace Corps and Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, replaced Eagleton, the damage was already done.
Nixon’s reelection victory — the largest Republican landslide of the Cold War — leads some to ask why the president ever got involved in the Watergate cover-up.
I voted for McGovern, the lesser bad choice. Nixon’s reputation as Tricky Dick made him a “no” for me. That he resigned from office in disgrace two years later validated my decision not to vote for him.
In 1992 I proudly voted for Bill Clinton and his running mate Senator Al Gore, (D-TN). Clinton was a baby boomer just two years older than me. He played the saxophone on Arsenio Hall’s late night talk show and represented the promise of new leadership. Clinton/Gore defeated Republican incumbent President George H. W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quale.
When Clinton ran for a second term in 1996, I didn’t vote for him. While his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky didn’t bother most Clinton loyalists, the sordid episode offended my sensibilities. The stain (pun intended) removed the luster from his image and was a deal-breaker for me. My protest vote went to Ross Perot, the Reform Party candidate.
The 2020 election raises questions: How long will it take America to heal? Do we want healing? Is something in our election system broken?
We usually use “fix” to mean we want something to go back to how it was before. We use “mend” to describe something easier and quicker to fix. We also use it to describe relationships, often in political situations, with the phrase “mend relations with.”
Can America fix what’s broken, mend our fractures and heal the country? Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company and chief developer of the assembly line technique of mass production emphasized how much attitude determines success or failure when he said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.”
I believe we can fix our differences and heal. Americans can do anything.