Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln . . .

It’s taken rather longer than expected for the ship to come in but come in it has. From what I hear on social media, people not only across the country but around the world are cheering, setting off fireworks, and dancing in the streets. The election of Barack Obama in 2008 was big, but this is bigger, because even more is at stake. Bush II was a terrible president, true, but Trump and the current Republican Party are a serious threat to the Constitution, the rule of law, civil rights, and basic decency.

Election night I went to bed around midnight, read for about five minutes, then fell asleep. I very, very rarely have trouble sleeping, and I’m one of those insufferable people who bounds out of bed in the morning — once I’ve persuaded Tam to get out of my way — wide awake and ready to go.

Tuesday night was looking good for Trump, but I expected that and saw no reason to stay up. Wednesday morning, however, I had to screw up my courage to wake up Matilda (laptop) and check out the news. When I did, it was looking pretty good for Biden-Harris, disappointing for the U.S. Senate, and all too obvious that going on four years of Trump’s incompetence, ignorance, corruption, and hatred-fueling antics haven’t budged his base one bit. They had voted in droves. Fortunately we had too.

Nov. 5, some Americans, including the soon-to-be-ex president, were celebrating Guy Fawkes Day by trying to blow up the election. Trumpers were attempting to intimidate ballot counters in Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Trump, who doesn’t understand how elections work, continues to tweet demands to “stop the count.” What’s interesting about Guy Fawkes is that the bonfires and fireworks celebrate a plot that failed, or, rather, the failure of a plot.

It won’t become official till the Electoral College meets on December 14: the Monday after the second Wednesday in December. Because of the goddamn Electoral College we’ve been biting our nails for weeks, and we were still biting our nails when the Democratic ticket was ahead by 3.5 million in the popular vote. As been said in various ways in recent days, “I didn’t get this far to be tearing my hair [biting my nails, losing my sh*t, etc.] over Pennsylvania.”

Around noon today, once Pennsylvania was called for the Democrats, NBC, MSNBC, and AP projected Biden-Harris the winners. Fox soon followed suit. Arizona and Nevada have been declared firmly blue, with only Georgia and North Carolina still in play. Here’s what the Associated Press (AP) map looks like at 1:30 p.m. ET, Nov. 7. Biden’s ahead by well over 4 million votes.

And here is a cool GIF about where people actually live in this country.

The Democrats have won the popular vote in 6 of the last 7 presidential elections (the exception was 2004, when Bush II ran for re-election against John Kerry), but in 2 of the 6 (2000 and 2016) they lost in the Electoral College. To put it politely, 2000 was a hot mess because it all came down to Florida’s electoral votes. Which is how we got the Iraq War, Dick Cheney, and an economic meltdown.

About what we got, and are still getting, and will be living with for quite some time now, from 2016? Let’s see: A raging pandemic, obviously, and a crashed economy. White supremacy unleashed, often with guns. Escalating police violence against people of color. A gutted State Department, EPA, and other agencies. Corruption of the Department of Justice. Courts packed with judicial conservatives, many of them less than competent. Loss of world standing. I could go on.

I won’t say I’m exactly shocked by the number of U.S. voters who are OK with Trump’s incompetence, corruption, ignorance, bellicosity, and hatred, but I am disappointed. I’d hoped for better.

On the Atlantic website, Tom Nichols, a fairly conservative guy, published a piece headlined “A Large Portion of the Electorate Chose the Sociopath.” The headline says it all, but Nichols elaborates:

Nearly half of the voters have seen Trump in all of his splendor—his infantile tirades, his disastrous and lethal policies, his contempt for democracy in all its forms—and they decided that they wanted more of it. His voters can no longer hide behind excuses about the corruption of Hillary Clinton or their willingness to take a chance on an unproven political novice. They cannot feign ignorance about how Trump would rule. They know, and they have embraced him.

That’s not going away. At the moment Trump and his minions are doing everything they can to stop the count, undermine confidence in the process, and fire up “the base” by making legal challenges, circulating disinformation, attempting to intimidate election workers, and even threatening violence.

But we’ve won. We’ve won the opportunity to continue to perfect the democratic experiment, instead of flushing it down the toilet into the Trumpist swamp. The way forward is going to be grueling, a challenge that will almost certainly demand more of us than just defeating Trump. But that is worth celebrating, so celebrate we did, on Eastville Beach last night.

Most of the heart of the Vineyard resistance. From left: Kathy Laskowski, Carla Cooper, me, Lorraine Parish, Holly MacKenzie, Cathy Walthers, and Maria Black.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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