Soon We Will Know

Election Day is upon us; all I can say now is, as the Grateful Dead once sang, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.” People will be writing about this election for as long as exhausted PhD candidates are in need of a dissertation topic, and no two people will quite agree on what this very odd election all meant—and what the long term effects on our nation will be.

Perhaps the last few months can be likened to the thrashing delirium that strikes just before a fever breaks. There can be no doubt there is an illness in our nation that begs for a cure. We may strongly disagree about the nature and extent of the ailment, but there seems to be a pervading sense that we’re well past the point where two aspirin will do just fine.

I cannot remember a moment in my adult lifetime when so many were so disgusted with so much—and had so little faith in our leaders and institutions. Perhaps this explains at least a bit of why those in each major party have tended to frame the possibility the opposing side will win in the most apocalyptic terms: We all understand that, whichever way we go, there will be no splitting the difference or turning back.

If one is to believe the exceedingly changeable polls, this Presidential election is now a coin flip in a hurricane, and no one is quite certain what unexpected and uncontrollable forces will buffet it before it finally lands.

Given that four words that should never be spoken together—“Presidential candidate” and “FBI investigation”—are now glued to Hillary Clinton, there is good reason to think that Donald Trump is in a position to shock the pundits and every polling expert in the land. However, Trump certainly has his own highly charged negatives trailing along in his wake like toilet paper stuck to his shoe, so there are a great many who will not vote for him—no matter what the circumstances.

If I were to be forced to bet a sizable sum of money on the outcome, I would certainly hate to do so. Two more thoroughly dislikable people have probably never gone head to head for the Presidency. Nonetheless, if only because it is positively un-American to not have an opinion, I’m going to guess the advantage falls to Donald Trump simply because it might be impossible for anyone to win an election when their name keeps getting mentioned in the same breath as Anthony Weiner’s.

Of course, those voting for Hillary Clinton are livid over the timing of the FBI’s recent public announcement that they have re-opened the investigation into whether her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State violated federal laws regarding the handling of classified information. However, I believe that the FBI was caught in an impossible position in this regard. Had they conducted their re-investigation without informing Congress, they would have been accused of complicity and cover-up. It stinks, but it had to be done (and how ironic is this?) to preserve the reputation of the FBI for impartiality in politically-fraught investigations.

Of course, much of what will happen—or will not—over the next four years will depend on what happens in the Congressional and Senatorial races. We are electing a President and not an Emperor, so the composition of the legislative branch will clearly indicate just how much change we can expect—and how fast. There is an old and largely accurate saying that all politics are local, but I am going to guess that a lot more voters this year will be casting their ballots with a nervous glance toward the top of the ticket.

No matter whether the winner of the election is Trump or Clinton, expect a howl of dismay to rise through our country. Nonetheless, I hope for at least a modicum of civility and courtesy from whichever side has to sit through a concession speech from their candidate.

The plate of the next President will be very full, and a number of difficult and disheartening choices are looming on the horizon. We will accomplish less if we dissipate our energies fighting among ourselves. We all need to remember that sometimes, as the Rolling Stones once sang, “You can’t always get what you want.” Nonetheless, we will still need to work together for the future of our country, lest we tear ourselves apart.

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