It is early morning on election day, 2020, as I write these words. Many have called it "The most important election of our lives." It is hard to dispute that notion.
Joe Biden leads narrowly in final polls, both nationally (remember how well that worked out for Hillary) and in battleground states. We need to get rid of the electoral system which utterly distorts our elections. A state with half a million people gets two senators, while a state like California with forty million people gets the same number. Early voting turnout approaches 100,000,000, a record. Final tallies after election day may approach 150,000,000, which will also be a record.
Still, Democrats, burned by the 2016 election, remain worried. President Trump has broken all norms as president. He has lied more than 20,000 times. Virtually no word escapes his lips that is not a lie or distortion of the truth. It has been an amazing display and further proof, if any is needed, that he is a con-man of the first order. Add in his other character traits: racist, bigamist, white nationalist, misogynist, accused rapist, tax cheat, corrupt businessman...the list goes on and on...and voters know he will go to any lengths to lie, cheat and manipulate the election results. His need to remain in office is existential. The list of federal and state charges that will be brought against him the moment he is no longer protected by the office he holds, is long. He could end up in prison.
One could hold that Trump's one saving grace is that he is really stupid. He never reads. He has no idea how government works. He knows nothing about history. But the result of that is that he does whatever he wants to do. He breaks laws, fires anyone who opposes him, has taken over the Justice Department, ignores his own intelligence officials. He has pointed out as we have never had pointed out to us before, how strong the office of the presidency is and how few controls there are on that institution for someone who simply ignores the law. His admiration for dictators around the world is well known. He clearly would like to emulate them, destroy our democracy and establish his own family as an autocratic dictatorship. And he has managed to pack the courts on every level all the way up to the Supreme Court with his own sycophantic supporters.
Virtually the only resistance to Trump at this point comes from the fourth estate. Here, he has another backstop. Fox News gives Trump his own arm of the media, essentially state run media. Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers and other billionaires try to manipulate in his favor. And of course, all those foreign dictators work around the clock to interfere in our elections, including, most importantly, Vladimir Putin, the man who helped swing the 2016 election to Trump and who put bounties on the lives of American troops. And we shouldn't forget social media. Facebook, Twitter and the rest have made it much easier to spread the lies and misinformation and to enlist conspiracy theorists to further strengthen Trump supporters. Expect them to be out in force today, strutting about carrying assault weapons and "guarding" poll stations. I will consider it a minor miracle if some crazy doesn't shoot voters waiting in line somewhere.
So today will be crucial in deciding whether or not the American democratic system will survive. Like everyone else, I will be glued to the TV tonight watching returns. High voter turnout suggests people are tired of Trump. Lord, let it be true. But win or lose, we can expect months of watching Trump lawyers try to undo the results of the election. Meanwhile, Covid will kill hundreds of thousands more in our country.
How did we ever get here? We have dropped the ball in so many ways. Millions of Americans are tired of government that never seems to affect their lives. Income inequality has become endemic. Workers see no way to get ahead. Higher education has become prohibitively expensive, blocking the only way forward for many. The lack of leadership on things like global warming has led to the displacement of people all over the country because of floods, super hurricanes and fires. The failure to at long last end racial discrimination is another major problem. Having an avowed racist in charge for four years has only exasperated this. And the loss of millions of jobs and hundreds of thousands of businesses threatens us all with another Great Depression.
It all comes down to voting. That is our last chance. If Trump gets four more years, none of us will recognize the country that we will have to live in...or die in.