Uncertainty is not something I cope well with. But this is where we find ourselves. I made myself go to bed last night, because I knew we wouldn’t know anything useful for quite awhile, and not sleeping wasn’t going to make facing that reality any easier. And I actually did manage to sleep, mostly thanks to singing the “Next Right Thing” song from Frozen 2 to myself inside my mind. (I really love that song and that movie, y’all. Which is so bizarre because I’m generally NOT a Disney person, and I wasn’t especially into the first Frozen.)
It should not be this close. If we were the country we tell ourselves we are, it would not be this close. We can’t call those who vote for Trump in ’20 “protest voters” the way we did in ’16. This time, there was no “well, let’s just see what he does”; what he’ll do has been on display for 4 years now, and it’s horrifying to see that a significant portion of my country looked at that, and said, “yes, this is what we want. More of this, please.”
But is it surprising? I don’t know. I’ve been thinking back to my earliest political memory. It was 1990, so I was 7, and my family was supporting Harvey Gantt against Jesse Helms for US Senate in North Carolina (which is where we lived until a year or so later). Harvey Gantt, for those who don’t know, was a Black man. Anyway, while I don’t remember things word-for-word at this point, I remember the Helms campaign running an ad that was to my young mind so explicitly racist; my memory of it is that it basically said, “hey white people? You didn’t get that job you wanted because they gave it to an unqualified Black person.” In my young mind, this was so blatant that I was *sure* that when people saw it, they would realize how racist Helms was and vote against him. Oh, sweet Baby Me. So naive.
My young social justice warrior self had a lot to learn. It wasn’t that people didn’t realize how racist Helms was; they knew damned well, but viewed that as a feature rather than a flaw. And one of the lessons I took away from this was to never underestimate the ugliness that exists in this country. Which is why I’ve always resisted when people try to say, “this isn’t who we are” or “we’re better than this”. No, it’s exactly who we are if we don’t make efforts to change it. And I’m not sure I’ll ever feel confident that enough other people will participate in those efforts. But I’ll always want to be proven wrong.
We don’t know yet what the outcome of this election will be. It seems like the likeliest path is one in which Biden wins the presidency, but the Republican party retains control over the Senate, and that has always seemed to me like the path most likely to push this country to its breaking point; does anyone believe that Mitch McConnell will actually allow Biden/Harris to govern? But we just don’t know yet. (I like Anand Giridharadas’s take on what we DO know as of right now.) We need to be patient, and we need to be diligent about ensuring that all of the votes get counted. As someone who was just a few months too young to vote in the 2000 election, our current circumstances feel awfully familiar; my teenaged-self’s commitment then, which caused a major rift with my conservative uncle that Thanksgiving, was to ensuring that all votes were counted, and it remains my commitment now. (Another thing I was committed to then and still am: the elimination of the Electoral College, and expanding the use of ranked-choice voting.)
It should not be this close, but it is. We are a country with racist rot at its core, and with a political system whose flaws are now becoming wildly apparent. We have so much work to do.
5 thoughts on “into the Unknown”
I liked reading your blog years ago, and I’m trying to get back into reading knitting blogs, so I’m glad you’re still blogging. And I appreciate this thoughtful post. I’m pretty scared of the outcome of this election, and I appreciate the way you laid it out. We need votes to be counted. Disenfranchisement is not the way to win an election. Hopefully, we’re heading in the right direction.
Thanks for these steady words, and also the Giridharadas essay link.
Well said. Patience and persistence, I think those are our keywords for a few years.
I also grew up in a very liberal home in Baltimore. I am thinking all will be well and going forward to work on the 2 senate campaigns in Georgia. I am just trying to ignore all the noise from GOP—as that’s all it is. However, I don’t understand why they have absolutely no integrity but I doubt I will ever know the answer to that.
I too am perplexed with the … well with many things. But on the Hallowe’en front – love your daughter’s costume choice – and how you made it! Thanks for posting about all the topics.