We Will Know Shortly What Our Fellow Citizens Have Decided About America’s Future
Well, Here We Are
I suppose at this point we are all, whatever our political persuasion, tired of hearing and saying that “This is the most important election of our time.” But once again, this one does seem to qualify.
This blog is being posted on Election Day. Many millions – a record number for midterm elections – have already voted, by absentee and through the mail. Millions more will vote today, in person. We honestly do not have much of a clue of how the election will go, nationally and for the most part, locally.
We will have time and opportunity in a few days to talk about the outcome, but there are some things we know today. Hopefully, we took all of these into our considerations – and hopefully, we all voted. If you did not, shame on you; that makes you part of the problem. If it is not poll closing time yet when you read this, get up and vote NOW.
While we await results, some key points we do know:
Some Important Differences in This Election
A Midterm Election for the Ages – I cannot think of a midterm election as important as this one. Whether the country goes forward in some ways or increasingly is locked down and divided will be determined in large measure by this election. We know that democracy is messy, and people often come up short as citizens. But it always has the potential for self-correction. We will know shortly how many of us saw the core issues and voted accordingly and how many failed the opportunity to do something important for the country.
Polls are Worthless – Although they may not have been as bad as some of the critics claim, polls have become increasingly erratic and inaccurate. There are a lot of reasons for this. A system that for so long depended on landline connections has yet to catch up with mobile populations that may text but will not take a call.
An additional factor I have noticed in the last couple of weeks of this election is a proliferation of polls that seem to say the Republicans are on a roll, but take a closer look at those polls. A significant percentage of them are paid for by Republican advocates, using outfits we have never heard of in polling. They often poll really small numbers and give little information as to how the poll was conducted. These are essentially publicity tools, trying to convince people of an outcome.
Between this factor and the aforementioned problems with real polls, I am ignoring them all. We will know the outcome soon enough.
Four Continuing Realities
However it Goes, This is Not the End State– We will talk more about this in the coming days, but for now just keep in mind that as important as this election is, the fight goes on, at many levels forever. This has never been a time limited contest – it is continuous. That is actually as it should be in a democracy.
The Trends Toward Irreparable Divisions Continue – This is worrisome in the extreme. Americans less and less trust each other and have decreasing interest in finding common ground on anything. We will talk a lot about this in a coming post. But know that edging toward permanent civil strife is a losing proposition for all. I have seen this up close in other countries and it is a death trap for any civilization. Unfortunately, I do not believe we have yet bottomed out in this area. I expect this to get worse, no matter how this election goes, at least for the next 3-5 years.
Local and State Elections are at Least as Important, Perhaps More Important: Many of the important decisions in our lives are made at the local and state level. How elections are organized and supervised. What is invested in health care. What books are in our schools and libraries. Folks interested in a Christian Nationalist/ Koch Brothers model have recognized this and invested accordingly for a long time. The rest of us need to do the same.
By the way – a simple start is to attend your local council or school board meetings, support officials who are trying to do things right for all their citizens and let those present know that the person who just ranted on a fringe position does not speak for you or most of the community. Show up or give up
The Media is Failing Us Miserably, Social Media Remains More Problem Than Asset: This may prove to be a major factor in the weakening of democracy. Too much journalism is now more interested in the horse races than the substance. They are too shy about calling out BS. Not much of it is locally controlled these days. It is more of a business than a calling. We cannot afford this.
Social media is even worse. But having Elon Musk run Twitter will fix all that, right? A lot of good work is being done to address all this, but we desperately need some national dialogue, some standards, and determination to get this right.
Three Possible Futures
This election could begin to blunt the negative, extremist trends and begin (just begin) a return to civilization.
We also could enter a Mad Max era, where extremism becomes much more the norm. The House of Representatives and a few state officials are ready to show us the way.
Neither of those outcomes happen – we end up with an even stall and continue the messy paths we are on now.
Which one is more likely an outcome? I have no clue. We will see shortly.
More Next Week On Where We Are Going – And Lessons from Elsewhere
As long time readers know, this blog started in large part out of what I experienced travelling in the Middle East. There are specific lessons from that region that now appear more relevant to us than I feared. We will share some thoughts, hopes, and fears on all that in the coming days.
Last call – you did vote, right?
PS – Let’s end this post on an optimistic note. My good friend and excellent blogger Jeanne Finan (you should be on her subscription roster) posted a fine review this past weekend of her time as an Early Voting poll worker. Her experience matches mine – a lot of good people trying to do the right things for the right reasons. It is a fine read, just in time: https://coldcoffeewriter.substack.com/p/are-you-afraid?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email
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