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It's Both Worse and Better Than It Looks

It's Both Worse and Better Than It Looks

Oct 26, 2020

There’s a lot more pundits than there used to be.

Just like there are a lot more hikers, a lot more joggers and a lot more failed soufflés, as well as abandoned sourdough starters.

I started writing this column, back in April, because it fills my need to speak my mind, writing calms me down and it helps me to make sense of the world. Turns out, in a country of several hundred million, there are few million other like minded people pumping out similar thoughts, information and spurious gossip.

I’ve now read two articles pointing out how much most Americans agree about certain topics - abortion, birth control, gun control, LGBTQ rights, health care, environmental issues, infrastructure needs and the right-to-die laws. Two-thirds to three-quarters of our population concurs and - yet - all we see and hear via our social media feeds are those who disagree. All we see and hear via all of our general media feeds are the polarizing views. All that we hear from the most tiresome human being on the planet is how the much the world conspires against him. (At least, that is the only thing I took away from the 60 Minutes interview yesterday evening.)

I know that outrage sells and agreeableness is boring. I know that no one wants to be in a car wreck, but everyone likes to rubberneck when they come across one.

It’s enough to make you desire a nation wide referendum on all of this malarkey, so we can get down to brass tacks. Skip over the backroom deals, smoky rooms (or, I guess they must be vape-filled these days) and thousand dollar lunches with lobbyists.

I’m sure there are all kinds of reasons it wouldn’t work, for instance someone would still have to dig into the details, funding would have to be appropriated and all kinds of other things would have to be parsed before the sausage gets made, but the polls showing this unanimity is out there and we still have never-ending partisan gridlock.

This must be where all of that ‘dark money’ goes into fouling the system and skewing the courts and preventing the will of the people to come to the fore.

As for the locomotive bearing down on us in the guise of an election, one of the Lincoln Project founders - meaning a former Republican operative now serving as a mercenary to help get someone other than the current occupant of the White House elected - has written a sunny essay about how the election is in the bag and Biden/Harris supporters should not take a victory lap but they should definitely refrain from skulking about with their heads hanging low. I don’t recall what he specifically said but the gist was that we should behave like the victors we will soon be. (Here’s another article he wrote about how Gen Z will be the death of conservatism. It can’t happen soon enough!)

I am too cynical, superstitious and shell-shocked from 2016 to do that but I mention it only to illustrate the wide range of opinion floating about out there.

I saw another article about the integrity of our voting systems, and how the very fact that every state handles their own elections and the vast majority of people who work within that system are sticklers for good government, makes the likelihood of shenanigans happening on a large enough scale unlikely. I listened to a podcast that interviewed election officials in states like Wisconsin stating that, despite the increase in voting enthusiasm playing out as anticipated, those charged with handling the chaos are doing it with aplomb and taking it as seriously as you would expect someone charged with safe-guarding a sacred act. And - they are feeling one hundred per cent confident a fair election will be held.

Of course, you can brace yourself for the barrage of stories about tossed ballots, lost ballots and ballots turning up in ravines. In addition, the usual stories about voting machines switching names, missing names or highlighting certain names. Just as there are black transgender Puerto Ricans voting for you-know-who, and seventh generation crew cut cowboys voting for Joe Biden, there are going to be some of these apocryphal tales of misdeeds and unfortunate affairs.

You may have heard that the Texas governor - a Republican through and through - only allowed one ballot drop box per county in Texas. So, Harris County the home of Houston and four million residents, depending on whether they have a tropical depression hurtling their way or not, has one ballot drop box as does Billy Bob County in West Texas that only has Billy Bob, his family and a couple thousand head of cattle.

Very unfair, right?

That story along with the fake ballot drop boxes in Los Angeles were going round and round and round in social media recently. Whipping up voter suppression angst.

Turns out it was also true that the thoroughly Republican Texas governor extended early voting by a significant amount of time (for some unknown, inexplicable reason). It is also true that Texans could drop their ballots in a convenient mail box, rather than making the long trek cross-county to the lone ballot box. (Of course, if paranoia got the best of them in regards to whether or not the mail service could be trusted with the task this time around, they were going to have to GPS where that box is located and drive, walk, run, bike, scooter, public transit or Uber themselves over to it.)

My point being that, in the end, it may have merely been one of those outrage messages to help keep us motivated and divided simultaneously.

All Votes Matter. Even if only so we can say that we won the popular vote but lost the arcane Electoral College vote once again.

No Polls Matter. We learned that lesson the last go around. Regardless of what you hear, good, bad or ugly, use your god-given right to vote. (If guns are a god-given right, so are votes.)

One last note on this, surveys also show that a significant majority of Americans believe every vote should be counted and it is not necessary to announce a winner on Election Night. That tidbit of information will definitely be dismissed by the major channels that will all be apoplectic trying to read the political tea leaves that night.

Hang tight. We are in the home stretch.

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