election observations. finally.

Now that we’ve had some time to take a breath and reflect upon the month of November — arguably the climax of this thing we keep calling “2020” — come. Let’s reason together as to what we learned as a nation…

First… Near 150 million persons exercised their right to vote. How encouraging that so many persons cared about the election! The numbers are fascinating… former Vice Pres. Joe Biden won a record low 17% of the nation’s counties but still received more votes than any presidential candidate in history. Pres. Donald Trump significantly increased his share of votes from black and brown communities and received more votes than any incumbent in history, albeit still in an assumed losing effort. 

Second… Love him or hate him or somewhere in the very vast, murky middle, Pres. Trump is a polarizing figure. “Polarizing” equates to two sharply contrasting sides, sides which can be understandably passionate. No doubt sometimes that passion on each side has evolved into a license for dishonor. Dishonor is never virtuous nor attractive.

Next… I struggle with charges of an election not being free and fair. As always, feel free to disagree. But from where I sit (which determines where I stand), it’s 100% clear that my perspective is limited; in fact, I am actually incapable of having a perfected viewpoint. I am also certain, with all due respect, that no 9 p.m. cable opinion host will help me get there.

Were mistakes made? Probably. Were there irregularities? Certainly. Is that enough to overturn the results? Highly doubtful. And one more thing… I’ve noticed in recent years that our individual belief in regard to whether an election was free and fair typically depends on who won.

Next… The pre-election polling was wrong. Now I am no pollster or political scholar. I am merely a current events observer and only a semi-humble one at that. But the closeness of this election was no surprise, as it had become clear in recent years that if a Trump fan shared their adoration publicly, they were subject to shame. Such a backdrop provides minimal motive to be transparent with the inquiry of even a pollster.

Next… While this election seems a repudiation of Pres. Trump, it also seems not an embracement of Democrats. Most presidential victors prompt down ballot support, meaning accompanying their win is the simultaneous victory from persons of the same party in races of lesser prominence. But that didn’t happen this year. Democrats surprisingly lost multiple seats in the House, split the Senate, and no state legislative body changed parties. Opined Nichole Remmert, campaign manager for Emily Skopov, a Democratic hopeful from the Pittsburgh suburbs who lost, “There’s a significant difference between a referendum on a clown show, which is what we had at the top of the ticket, and embracing the values of the Democratic ticket. People bought into Joe Biden to stop the insanity in the White House. They did not suddenly become Democrats.” In other words, while this election was a rebuke of Pres. Trump, it was not a rebuke of Republicans nor evidence of a country wishing to become more politically progressive.

A few added thoughts… This election shed light on the “unholy alliance” — an aspect, in fact, we may soon discuss more in another post, as I’ve toyed with it often. There were radical groups and thinkers who aligned with one party or the other, of whom partisans seemed at least semi-silent because they liked the way they vote. These groups did not speak for either entire party… like anarchists, Marxists, neo-Nazis, socialists, racists, etc… like those who demand to “defund the police” or those who crave endless more years of a President Trump. Friends, tough but sincere question… how is each of our semi-silence supporting the radical? Remember: the middle is vast. The middle is murky. But those in the middle would be wise to quit fueling the fringe.

A word on unity… Two weeks ago we posted a piece entitled “How Do We Heal.” It was a conversation about moving forward, wisely and well together. I would have written that post no matter who won the election. But one observation from the election of 2020 is that many have much riding on who wins. Friends, let me not invalidate your thought. But I will say this… where my peace comes from, where my hope comes from, and how I treat my brother and sister has zero to do with who’s in the White House. I believe we were made for more.

I also think it’s key we remember that however one voted, assuming they voted for one or the other presidential candidate, 70-some million people voted differently. That’s not cause to be puffed up. That’s not validation to go out and now demand the other think like us. That’s more a call to strive harder to understand those 70-some.

Hence, lastly… Just like every year, we took time to pause and give thanks at the end of the month. There’s something sweet about that — something humbling, something that takes the focus off of self, and something that seeks out the greater good. This year, in this thing we keep calling “2020,” may Thanksgiving not be that only day of the year. Let us give thanks, as we continue to learn how to do life well together.