When a national board meeting last Friday began with quick check-in comments from each member, I found myself uncharacteristically somber.
Yes, of course, I feel enormous relief that representative democracy prevailed over the very real potential for fascism represented by a second term for President Trump. Of course, I’m grateful that militias haven’t used guns to protect an unelected candidate. That the nation rejected a dishonest, coercive, racist, divisive, dismissive president, who clearly cares more about himself than the health and lives of Americans or than the integrity of government itself. I’m thrilled about electing the first Black and first woman vice president. Grateful the nation waited, mostly patiently, if anxiously, for votes to be counted. That all major news networks, including Fox, called the election clearly and unambiguously when electoral math became clear.
But I shudder at how close it was. How could 71 million people vote for such an unmitigated disaster of a president? In the middle of a pandemic where the United States has outstripped other nations in caseloads and ineptitude, what sources of information, what susceptibility to manipulation prompted so many people actually injured by Trump to see him as a protector of their interests? What does this portend for future elections? Could a less clownish, less boorish, but equally or almost equally bad candidate could win the most important post in democratic society?