October 23, 2020

Are We Done Yet?


Last Friday night set a new record: I saw 5 solid minutes of political ads on one of the channels on Sling, back to back to back: Trump-Biden-Mark Kelly-Martha McSally-Mark Kelly-Trump-Biden-Martha McSally-Mark Kelly. Which ones do you notice? Probably only the ones that support an already-made decision on your part. 

Less than two weeks to go and the avalanche of information, misinformation, exaggeration, mug-slinging, facts, and alternative facts increases daily. Considering an estimated 42 million people have already voted, you have to ask: "Has the horse already left the barn?"

Illegal ballot boxes or virtually no drop off locations at all. Early voting in Georgia produces 11-hour waits. There have been several reports of mislabeled, incorrectly printed, or ballots mailed to the wrong people.

Looking for an escape route? There was an article in Psychology Today a while back that gave ways to navigate the treacherous waters of political and social disagreement without alienating or enraging others. If you are interested, click this link. 

Frankly, I thought the suggestions were fine if arguing whether the Cardinals or Raiders are better football teams, or something equally mundane. But, our cultural conversational skills are too far gone for most of the issues riling us up at the moment to have these common-sense suggestions make any real difference.

Now, someone is likely to comment that the rift between us isn't as bad as the media makes it seem. The fringes are at war, but the majority of us want to live near Mr. Rogers and just be neighbors. After November 3rd we will all become civil again and recognize our common goals while singing kumbaya.

Don't think so.

If you had told me QAnon was a real thing, with hundreds of thousands of believers, I would have assumed you were playing a sick joke on me. Cannibalistic, satan-loving, pedophile, baby-killing deep state government workers are running things? Right. What is the punch line? 

The punch line is us. The joke is on rationality and intelligence. Conspiracy theories thrive on the majority's inability to take seriously such utter nonsense from members of the same human species.

I don't know about you, but I am so ready for this all to end. Of course, all sorts of talking heads say we won't have a definitive answer on the evening of November 3rd. Additional time to count mail-in, absentee, and provisional ballots could take days or even weeks. Expected court challenges to every decision, every result, every T that isn't properly crossed could easily push everything into the new year. 

Just when you thought 2020 couldn't be any worse: a tsunami of new Covid infections are now threatening to wash us all back to total lockdown, run-on-toilet paper days. Unemployment figures are up again, job losses continue to mount. Colleges are going back to online courses as student illnesses set new records. Heavens, even Disneyland seems likely to be shuttered until well into 2021. This fall is going to be downright miserable. 

So, I am just clinging to the edge with my fingernails, waiting for November 4th, and what happens next. We will have done our duty to vote, trusting that eventually, it will count. Even if all the uncertainty comes to pass, the drumbeat of political ads, signs on every corner, and a chicken in every pot promises will stop. And, we will have no debates. Thursday night in Nashville ended that painful exercise. 

Remember 2000 and all those "hanging chads" in Florida that helped determine the next president? Don't be surprised if we look back at the Bush-Gore election as a model of civility and decorum.

Are we done yet? I am ready for someone to stick a fork in it all and say, "Yes."


34 comments:

  1. This has been such a stressful summer and fall. I'm so sick of the lies and daily drama! I can't wait until the election is over but I don't think that's going to be the end of the political driven-stress because no matter who wins we still have to deal with all those QAnon believers who are willing to park their brains up their butts and all the mean-spirited racists out there who don't want to work towards fairness and civility. They will either become the new face and character of the U.S.A. or we'll have our hands full trying to keep their influences in check.

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    1. The more I read about the fringe conspiracy wackos, the more I come to understand they have moved out of the extreme fringes and into a much more prevalent, dare-I-say almost mainstream position. To be that far removed from reality, and to be armed and supported by hundreds of thousands of others is the scariest part of this political nightmare.

      There is no way, with a Biden win, that they will slink off into the deep woods where they came from. It is much more likely they will be emboldened to "take back" Americas, the one that is twisted and warped beyond all recognition. The election will actually just be the starting gate for the mayhem to come, I am afraid.

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  2. I haven't watched anything with ads in months and have stuck to online for TV. I can attest in my travels though, that those of us in flip the Senate states like Colorado and Arizona are about ten times more inundated at that level than others are. Of course on Colorado its kind of hilarious because we got our ballots on 9 October and over two thirds of us have voted and the numbers are increasing so I'm really unsure who the last ten day push reaches...

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    1. Arizona must be one of the top two or three states with political ads. We are exposed to them primarily on the ad-based Hulu service. And, yes, 70% of Arizonans vote by mail and those have been available since the 9th. I know the ones Betty and i cast have already been tabulated.

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  3. Civility......can it be restored? Can we find a middle again? Who is the Leader to do it? Certainly not the Cheeto-in-Chief.

    2020 in the history books? I cannot even imagine what historians will say about this year! I hope to read that in 30 years as I turn 90yo.

    It's a good thing the election results are less than 14days away. I don't think my liver can take much more ;-)

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    1. 2020 has been the strangest, most unusual, most annoying, upsetting year of the 71 I have been on this planet. I am not sure 2021 will be a whole lot better but we will be missing political campaigns and hopefully, daily Twitter and factual outrages.

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  4. I confess to making things worse in other states. We made contributions to multiple candidates opposing senators that we cannot stand. Sorry about all the flyers and adds that have bombarded you folks.
    You are correct Bob, there will never be a kumbaya moment. This will not end in our lifetime. We are so far apart one side will have to dominate and control the other. I have ever confidence the Republicans can muster the will to do anything required to make this happen. I am much less confident that the Democrats can be organized and ruthless enough to stick with a plan from one election to the next. If I am correct we will continually lurch from one side to the other, until demographics finally catch up. The country will then get to find out if either party is still relevant. I fear we will not get to see how this turns out.

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    1. With Mitch McConnell already stating that if Biden is president and the Senate remains in GOP control, he will spend four years blocking every single thing the new administration tries to do. It doesn't matter what it is, or how it benefits anyone or everyone. He will personally exercise his power to frustrate the will of the people. With a mindset like that, we are doomed before we begin.

      Of course, recent pictures of 78 year old McConnell show massive bruising on his hands and face. His health (or lack of) may go a long way to rendering him no longer in the position to do much of anything.

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    2. If the Republicans manage to control the Senate this cycle (a difficult but not impossible task), they will have an additional tough battle in 2022 when they have to defend 22 of 34 seats up for election. Of course no one knows for sure how all this will play out, but my bet (guess, really) is that this year Trump wins, the Senate becomes a 50-50 split (meaning Republican control with the vice presidential tie breaker), and the House remains Democratic. Then in 2022, I would forsee the Senate going Democratic along with the House, which will mean legislative gridlock and additional investigations into Trump and/or impeachment attempts. How fun. If the Dems do manage a blue wave this year, I fear they will try to overreach in their grab for power (court packing, serious moves to end the electoral college, adding new states) and that will create a huge voter backlash in 2022 and 2024. Let's just get all of this over with!

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  5. Since I am 74, I suspect I will die with the spectre of covid and him ever present, even if I live to a 100. But, I am not going to succumb to depression or despair.

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    1. Me neither. However, if Trump does win I will have serious doubts about the future of democracy and America. A move may be the only course my wife and I can take to remain sane long enough to live out our remaining years.

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  6. The thing is there is danger in each outcome. If trump wins, will it be because the election process has been corrupted forever by Russian hacking and actually being able to change your vote, as some have suggested? And think of the horrific damage he will do to the environment, the less fortunate among us, science, health care, as he has no plan. And the virus killing more of us, corruption within the government, takeover of the Supreme Court by extremists, threats of war, more tariffs, more tax advantages for the rich and mostly every single act will be done to enrich himself and his wealthy cronies.

    If he loses, but it’s fairly close, we could see domestic terrorism with his white nationalist proud boys KKK and militia types and all their big boy weapons. But the biggest threat is the revengeful spiteful damage he will do for those remaining two months. It will be nothing like we’ve ever seen..executive orders, a corrupt Federal court system that will stand by him for their own selfish gains and just destruction and destroy for every state with a democratic governor or a state that went for Biden.

    And third, if Biden is elected by a wide and obvious margin, trump will still have those two months and the job for Biden and any other decent president that might have been elected or elected even after Biden, will have an almost impossible task to rectify all that has happened in the last 4 years. The cult will still be there, QAnon and the deranged followers will still be there. Racists will still be there and most of all Fox News will still be there spreading lies, fear and hate.

    Think I’m extreme...well I hope so..time will tell.

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    1. I don't think you are extreme; you are being realistic. No one could have lived through the last 3+ years, watch what has been happening, and not come to the same conclusions.

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  7. We watched a few minutes of the first debate, none of the second. So far here in Pennsylvania the early voting has gone smoothly. There was a "women's rally" and a Trump parade in our town at the same time ... and no violence, no incidents. I'm thinking that things are not as bad as you fear. Do I have my head in the sand?

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    1. Maybe your community is an outlier...filled with tolerant, pleasant people who respect each other's right to opinions (but not their own facts). Maybe you should share the name so we can move there on November 4th!

      It would be so wonderful if that world is the one that survives this fall.

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  8. My fear is that we are being set up to have a contested election with probable violent results. I'm not sure the Russians are so much trying to change the count (although I believe they would if they could) as sow the seeds of doubt. Back when we had a reasonable federal government, this would be worrisome enough but with trump and his enablers fanning the flames, I fear for our country. My husband and I have contingency plans to move to a different country - even for a little while - if our worst predictions come true.

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    1. There are several ways to undermine our system. You are right: sowing doubt and confusion will be just as effective as affecting the vote totals.

      I know it is part of the country, but we have discussed Hawaii as a place to get out of the way of what may be coming.

      The people there are very big believers in community, family, and a multi-racial culture. Being 2500 miles away from the mainland helps.

      Oh, and Social Security and Medicare still work, at least for now.


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    2. Oh, interesting thought! And, we speak the same language!

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  9. I don't think your concerns are exaggerated. Militias are arming, there are plots to kidnap or assassinate leaders, and the Proud Boys are marching in Portland. This feels different to me than earlier examples of political contention. I know you have recently read the book Caste. I wonder how many German people looked back at the early days of Hitler's rise and wondered where they missed the warning signs.

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    1. Less than half the American people agree to wear masks in public, as new cases and deaths spike to the highest rate since early summer. How pig-headed and misguided are we? The answer is pretty obvious. Roughly half the population is willing to get very sick or die for absolutely no valid reason. It is beyond any logical explanation.

      Being one of my favorite cities, I have been following the very distressing events in Portland since all this started. It has become a very dangerous and unstable place to be, but it is not alone. When armed groups take active steps to kidnap governors, harass voters, or disrupt daily life with threats, we are at a tipping point.

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  10. I have thought and thought about all this and I truly think the game plan is to thin out the population in the US. Trump and his republicans in power with the help of the conned and brainwashed base, want to see social services cut, so that money can go to enrich themselves and the already 1% of the wealthiest among us. What better way to achieve this than let herd immunity run amok, knowing that it will kill the elderly, the poor, who lack decent health care by design, Latinos and Blacks due to poorer health care and inferior disabled and immune compromised among us. Eugenics anyone?

    Also their religious extremism push will eliminate freedom from religion and freedom to be any other religion but Christianity. Sharia law anyone? Goodbye women’s rights, gay rights, minority rights.

    Corporate welfare will replace citizen welfare and we will become like medieval times when the kings had all the wealth and everyone else was dirt poor and expendable.

    In their minds, this will leave a mostly white country with no diversity and no government help for the less advantaged. It’s a form of wealth utopia for a much fewer numbered population. That’s their goal.

    Thing is, it won’t work in the long run, but we’ll see much damage and destruction as they try. And in the meantime, climate change will make it a moot point, in all probability.

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    1. To follow your lead, we are becoming a country of feudal lords and serfs. All the benefits go to the dominant caste; all the spoils go to the lowest caste of peoples, determined by color, race, and wealth. Religion is state-controlled and required. Your drawing a parallel to the Middle Ages world situation isn't' far off, and terrifying in its consequences.

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  11. No wonder you are feeling overwhelmed with ads https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/17/us/politics/trump-biden-campaign-ad-spending.html Arizona is one of the leading markets with about $20 m in national ads alone!
    We get hit by the Penn ads- but we stopped watching most regular broadcast about two weeks ago. We do watch local news (both Phili and Delmarva) to keep up on where and where not to go for lock downs. Netflix and reruns are our friends. I am prepared to "hold up" for a week while things are counted. Safety first.
    As I read comments--- it seems that depending on the bend of the individual depends on who is going to riot in the streets when this is done. As an independent- it has been interesting to watch the back and forth. Dover had a pro and anti Trump march at the same time last weekend. No one hurt. Pretty typical political stuff- very much like Tom. Have you seen ugly stuff in the Valley??? We have had more door knocking, on both sides, this time then ever before. That I have enjoyed.

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    1. The Phoenix area has been rather calm. Yes, there are been marches and shouting matches. A particular street corner not far from my home is the scene of two opposing groups shouting at each other from different sides of the intersection. But, compared to several other urban areas, thankfully no major flarups to this point.

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  12. Forgot to add- no matter who gets in---I look forward to most of our troops (including my son) to be out of the Middle East. Whoo Hoooo!

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    1. Our endless wars ending? Wouldn't that be a blessing for everyone.

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  13. Here in our swing state, we are the lucky recipients of back to back political commercials whenever we try to watch TV. Last night a pharma commercial came on and we were both shocked. And I agree that whomever the winner is, we're in for a tough stretch. Crazy times. And the spikes in the pandemic are so discouraging. People I once thought rational seem to be in total denial about the seriousness of this situation. It seems until someone contracts the disease or loses a loved one to it, they just don't want to see it. Of course, having Dear Leader poo poo it doesn't help. He is a super spreader himself. And ridiculing Biden for saying he'll listen to the scientists, like it's a bad thing? It's like a bad movie. Make it stop.

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  14. We all have a bad case of the "ain't it awful?s" Waiting is hard. But we the people are probably pretty much the same as we've always been. We just know all about it now.

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    1. Any stories we have been telling ourselves now longer sound quite as believable. It is as if a scab has finally fallen off and we can all see the wound underneath.

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  15. So much money has poured into our Maine senate election to fund negative ads on both sides so dirty and dishonest that I don't know if anyone can vote for either candidate at this point without holding their nose. I've started streaming the local 6 p.m. news later in the evening so that I can fast forward through all the awful ads.
    While I am looking forward to the election being over, I hope those of us who are hoping for a Trump defeat will not feel like our problems are over if that happens, especially if the Democrats sweep the presidency and both houses of Congress. I don't think that civility will be automatically restored with a different tone at the top; we are going to have to work hard at it. Listening to Chuck Schumer's rhetoric does not reassure me; it sounds like he could easily be just as imperious and obstructionist as McConnell has been.

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    1. Susan Collins has some major problems in Maine. It has been as nasty there as anywhere.

      No, the election will not end anything. It may start the long, slow, healing process, but I would expect a Biden win means several years of attempting to rebuild a sand castle that half the country keeps kicking over.

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  16. November 3 has come and gone, and although the counting and recounting is still in process, Biden is president-elect. Thank goodness. I am not American and I had no vote. But this election was important to me and to many other non-Americans around the world because of the political and economic power your country wields worldwide. I am both astounded and angry that the result was even close. That nearly half of your citizens would vote for such an incompetent and dangerous narcissist after four years under him boggles the imagination. As others have said above, it shows that the problems in the USA are far deeper than who the president is.

    Jude

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    1. Yes, it does. Like you, I can't grasp how 71 million thought he was worthy of reelection. The depth of racial and ethnic hatred and fear of "others" is depressing and scary. I found the white evangelical Christian support particularly upsetting. When a major religion becomes political and transactional, it has lost me.

      As we watch Trump's administration's death throes play out, I will be looking for any signs that a human heart actually beats inside the GOP. So far, no pulse.

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