Sucker Punch Rebound

Dear All,  It feels like the clock is ticking in slow mo. But, the 2020 presidential race looks more and more like it will be a replay of the 2018 mid terms — where Democratic fortunes improved over time — and that Biden will win.

We were warned about the “Red Mirage." We were urged to be patient and wait until all the votes are counted. Yet, last night’s soul-crushing results still feel like a sucker punch. When we didn’t score an early knock out with Florida last night, the default 2016 PTSD kicked in and, as various pundits on TV joked, it was either time to "unlock the liquor cabinet" or "hide all the knives from Democrats.” Then, some of my favorite congresswomen like Abby Finkenauer, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala were among too many Democrats who went down to defeat. As Senate hopeful Jaime Harrison’s miracle in South Carolina vanished, it started a domino effect that put our fantasy of flipping the Senate on life support. Even though Biden still was very much in the race, we all had to wrestle with our dashed hopes for a blue wave that would reaffirm our faith in Lincoln’s better angels. In that moment I flashed on something historian Jon Meacham said when I interviewed him recently. When talking about the Trump administration's history of separating children from their parents, I noted people invariably push back and say, “but it’s not who we are.” Much to my surprise, Meacham dismissed that view as a misreading of history. “In fact, it is who we are right now. A human rights abuse is being perpetrated in our names and, even if we strenuously oppose it, that’s who America is right now." Similarly, a malignant narcissist president, who peddles false hope to the marginalized in our society, is who we are right now. Our hope for this election was that Trump and his enablers would be repudiated for what we see as their horrific policies. Instead, the results of this election reflect the hard truth of Trump’s legacy: that he has freed many not to just accept, but to embrace, that disqualifying behavior. And so far Democrats have not found a way to definitively turn that tide.  Regardless of whether Joe Biden wins, Trump’s America is, in many ways, who we have become and, as Meacham noted, who we often have been. Our history is the story of an ongoing struggle to live up to the country’s founding promises. There will be endless time to process how we got to this particularly painful moment. But culprits on yesterday’s ballot include the dawning of the post-truth era, waning faith in our institutions, and hyper partisanship — all set against the backdrop of the so-called burgeoning “Knowledge Age,” which stokes fears the continuing demographic shifts.  In too many cases, they won. For me, those victories are even more disheartening than the defeat of so many extraordinary public servants and the death of the dream of a blue landslide. Still, even as I write, Trump’s red mirage is crumbling bit by bit. Biden, now for the first time, has leads in states which add up to 270 electoral votes (including Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona and Nevada). And outstanding votes suggest the margins in those states – while still very tight – are likely to grow. Finally, of all the emotions I’m feeling this morning, regret is not among them. To quote an activist friend's signature line:  When you wake up on November 4th, will you be able to say you did everything you could have? I hope you can take comfort, as I do, in being able to answer with a resounding “yes.” What we didn’t count on is that there’s so much more work to be done. We’ll get to that together. For now, make your anthem this number from Hamilton, "Wait For It," performed by Tony-award winning actor Leslie Odom Jr. Then, turn to the passage that Joe Biden used to close out his speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president back in August: “The Irish poet Seamus Heaney once wrote:  ‘History says   'Don’t hope on this side of the grave 'But then, once in a lifetime 'The longed-for tidal wave  'Of justice can rise up 'And hope and history rhyme.’” Then, the former vice president added, “This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme.” Finally, keep calm and wait for all the votes to be counted. Every last one. Onward, Jane

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