Living in Society

Final Week

Autumn Blaze maple tree.

More than 66 million voters already cast a ballot in the general election that ends a week from today. For perspective, Donald Trump’s popular vote in 2016 was 62,984,828, Hillary Clinton’s was 65,853,514.

The coronavirus pandemic is driving the high number of early votes cast. We won’t discover who won until election staff around the country finish counting according to their local laws.

Nate Silver’s puts it this way:

We’re in the last full week before Election Day, and as we’ve been saying for a while now, President Trump is running out of time to mount a comeback and close the gap Biden has opened in both national and state polls. We’re way past the point where a normal polling error alone could hand Trump the win. Still, Trump has a meaningful chance, per our forecast — a little worse than the chances of rolling a 1 on a six-sided die and a little better than the chances that it’s raining in downtown Los Angeles. And remember, it does rain there. (Downtown L.A. has about 36 rainy days per year, or about a 1-in-10 shot of a rainy day). election forecast, Oct. 26, 2020.

If the electorate fails to recognize the mistake made in 2016 and correct it, I don’t know what to say. Well I do have some things to say, but I’m keeping them to myself for the time being. It’s an uncertain year made worse by a pandemic that people, including the Iowa governor, can’t agree about. It’s been a public health crisis and a failure of political leadership. There is no separating ourselves from the impact of the coronavirus as it spreads without significant constraints. I don’t know anyone in Iowa who has not been affected in some way.

If Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win the election it’s hard to say what’s next. There is a lot to do. If Biden summed up the challenge succinctly by saying “Build Back Better,” the resolution of challenges facing the nation are complex. At a minimum we must implement a better plan to contain the pandemic and immediately reduce the number of ongoing infections and deaths. Simultaneously, damage done by the Trump administration must be undone if it can be. Biden may rescind many of the executive orders Trump signed, and rejoin international treaties where possible, yet there is more to it. We won’t know until the election results are known and Team Biden has a chance to look under the hood of the car wreck the current administration has been. Then we will discover the extent of the damage.

I’m optimistic there will be better days. Because of the resilience we’ve built into our Midwestern lives the last four years have been tolerated as well as could be expected. Having a Democratic president who has support in the legislative branch of government would be positive. Positive enough to provide hope after a long, dark period in American history.

Let’s hope it isn’t raining in Los Angeles on election day.