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Updated: Dec 14, 2020

December 8, 2020

Photo: Tomas Eidsvold for Unsplash

In a year like 2020, it's hard not to love a day whose name is "Safe Harbor Day." It just sounds like, "OK, now everything is all right." Ha!

But perhaps things are finally looking up.

By federal law, this is the day marking the conclusion of any state-level challenges to the most recent Presidential election. It's decreed that Safe Harbor Day must fall six days before the Electors formally cast their votes, which this year is December 14. After that the election results really and truly are cast in stone, even though the President doesn't get sworn in till January 20.

Like many other Americans, I haven't taken much note of previous Safe Harbor Days, except in the contested 2000 election between George Bush and Al Gore.

That year the Florida results were squeaky close (a 0.5 margin of difference), plus there were mechanical issues with punch-card ballots (the famous "hanging chads"), so we, as a nation, had to consider the issues that led to the creation of the Electoral Count Act in 1887: namely, who the winner is, and if that result was reached fairly.

In this election the winner is clear, with the nationwide Electoral vote tally standing at 306 Biden, 232 Trump.

New York Times electoral vote map, 2020

And Biden won more than 7 million more popular votes than Trump. So there's also that.

Those numbers aren't close and they're not going to get any closer. The 48+ lawsuits so far filed by the Trump campaign and his Republican supporters have found no evidence of fraud. Zip. zilch, nada.

I'm writing this for posterity, and I'm sure future generations will marvel at the way our society brought such fierce and prolonged scrutiny this election, in order to determine whether the Democrats cheated.

"Wait — you mean, not the Republicans?" future generations will ask, scratching their heads. "Even though Trump complained about cheating before any voting even took place? Even though the GOP rammed through a Supreme Court judge so Trump could try to force a favorable ruling in case the election went against him? Even though the Trump administration had mailboxes removed from street corners???"

"Yes," we will have to say, still perplexed ourselves, "it was their side claiming the election was stolen."

And that claim still has some traction, despite everything Trump and his followers have done in 2020 … before, during and after the election.

Despite the constant cry of "fraud!" by the Republican Party, despite the massive suppression of minority voters by Republicans and their calculated misinformation campaigns, pushed through social media and TV advertising as well as by Fox "News," despite Trump being the incumbent, Biden still managed to win. And he won by enough votes, both popular and electoral, that no other candidate or party in the history of the U.S. would have questioned the final result.

Yet here we are in a situation where the loser of a free and fair election is trying to bully the nation into re-examining the outcome, re-counting the votes, re-playing the voting procedures … and now, as expected, simply demanding we overturning the whole thing.

Yes, really.

Today, on the now-ironically named Safe Harbor Day, the Texas state Attorney General, Ken Paxton, has filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court accusing Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin of committing election irregularities and calling for an investigation.

This is such a bizarre move that most people (future generations, yes! Also this one!) just keep saying, "I don't understand. How can one state sue another state over its election procedures? How can it make accusations of fraud? Basically, what business is it of theirs?"

Exactly what irregularities are those states being accused of, and why haven't any of the other lawsuits filed by the GOP uncovered them yet, after a month of trying?

And yet "Stop the Steal" is the newest Republican protest slogan, gaining popularity on Twitter and elsewhere.

We live in such irrational and bewildering times. I, personally, am ending 2020 in a state of greater stupefaction than I began it. We are going through a pandemic with countrymen who keep trying to get the virus, then give it to us, then fly into a rage when we object. We're being told that the person who cheats has been cheated upon, and even if there's no proof, anyway he wants a different result, so just give it to him. We're prohibited from accepting relief aid from the Congress we put in power because the dollars we supplied have been transformed into "handouts."

Up is down and down is up. Nothing makes sense and we will forever remember this period as profoundly self-destructive, willful, malevolent, and — oh, so confusing. Even those of us (hopefully I'm among the "us") who believe we still have some vestige of perspective left probably have less than we think.

We've been subjected to Olympic-level gaslighting by our top leader for the past four year, and now that we really, really need our sanity, and could definitely benefit from some common sense, almost half of our population is behaving with extreme irrationality — furious at those who are trying to protect them, enamored of those who keep pushing them in harm's way.

An already-iconic photo of a showdown between health care workers and "liberate" protesters. Alyson MacClaran, Reuters.

Five hundred years after the Reformation, science is scoffed at, provable facts are dismissed, and whole swaths of the population, including incoming Congresspeople, believe that the opposing political party not only molests but actually, um, eats children. (Especially Hillary Clinton.)

Yes, this is all happening. Yes, in America we are still flailing around in our self-inflicted agony today, proving to an aghast world that money and privilege can't buy sanity.

But it's Safe Harbor Day. Six days from now the interminable 2020 election season will come to a close, and we'll have a new President. And who knows, maybe then we will be restored to some kind of normalcy, stability or (dare I dream?) even civility — if not immediately, then little by little.

Twenty-three days left till 2021. Twenty more after that till the Inauguration. But wouldn't it be great if we could start rescuing ourselves and each other now?

Why wait?

Photo: Thomas Bormans for Unsplash

PS - Happy birthday to my mother-in-law, an angel while on earth and a safe and loving harbor for me at a time when I needed it. Love you, Raffaella.

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