We woke up the morning of the election terrified for the soul of the nation. We were depressed and disheartened. But, we had a teeny, tiny bit of hope. As the election returns slowly trickled in election night, and our stomachs twisted in knots, that hope was squashed like a bug on a windshield. As the days went by, and as mail-in votes were counted, that hope slowly unfurled and tentatively poked its head back out and looked around. And, finally, on a dreary Saturday morning, we heard the news we had been waiting for — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won! It was a time for ugly crying by me (tears of happiness and relief, releasing a level of stress I didn’t even know I was carrying) and laughing and catching up with like-minded friends and drinking bubbles. For a brief moment, we (and people all around the world) celebrated the end to a long national nightmare.
But, that nightmare isn’t over just yet. More than 70 million Americans voted for Trump, a fact that we just can’t wrap our heads around. In other words, after four years of cruelty and racism and fascism and utter incompetence dealing with covid and other things, MORE Americans voted for Trump in 2020 than in 2016. Did those over 70 million Americans openly embrace his racism, his sexism, his homophobia, his xenophobia, his cruelty, his authoritarianism, and his lying? Do those over 70 million Americans really hate others that much? Do those over 70 million Americans really not care about the fundamental rights of people that look differently than them or worship differently than them or love differently than them? Or, did something else allow those over 70 million Americans to say “yes, he is a liar, but….” and “yes, he is a racist, but….” and “yes, he is sexist, but….” and “yes, he is homophobic, but…” and “yes, he is incompetent, but…” and “yes, he is cruel, but….” What on earth could possibly be the “but” in that analysis? What could justify voting for so much hate?
So, now, we have to ask ourselves, where does the U.S. go from here? How does this country heal itself and avoid a civil war? Why are Biden voters being told they have to reach out and try to understand Trump voters when nobody told the Trump voters that four years ago? How does the U.S. make voting more fair? How does the U.S. eliminate the propaganda that has huge swaths of people believing in ludicrous things like Pizzagate and microchips in vaccines? How does the U.S. make science real again? How does the U.S. become fundamentally decent? How does the U.S. reclaim its place in the world and, as Joe Biden said “lead by the power of our example”? We sure wish someone had the answers to those questions.
Watching with bated breath from north of the border, we Canadians were asking ourselves the same question: what could that “but” be? Surely it’s not simply economics, but …… ? As one of our political commentators summed it up: Biden being President is not necessarily “good” for Canada, when looked at from a foreign policy and economic standpoint, but we are all rejoicing at the return to working and negotiating with a “normal”, empathetic, reasonable leader again. Despite the inexplicable (to me) love affair that some right-wing Canadians also had with Trump, surely you could hear the collective sigh of relief coming from your northern neighbours when Biden’s victory was declared. Fingers crossed for a peaceful transition and a resumption of decency in the oval office. The United States’ people deserve it.
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