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OH THE WAITING

November 6, 2020


As I type this, I have one eye on the upper right corner of my screen. When notifications come in, that’s where they appear. The one I’m waiting for is, “Joe Biden has been elected President of the United States.”


Most of the Americans who have been glued to their TV or phone screens for the past three days and nights can’t see any way this race doesn’t go to Joe. Technically, he is still frozen in place at 253 electoral votes — or 264, according to Fox, Apple News and the Associated Press — while Trump languishes at 214. That’s a huge gap, and it will probably widen since the ballots still flowing in seem to keep favoring Biden.


We were told there might be an announcement at 1:oo p.m., so I held off writing this. Now it’s 3:30, I have to be somewhere at 5:00, so … I share with you how things stand right now.


Screen grab, FiverThirtyEight.com


The whole country is on pins and needles. The slow drip-drip-drip of this year’s returns have tried the patience even of those who knew that the unprecedented level of mail-in voting this year would slow down the process. We were told, “Trump’s numbers will be high at the beginning, because the same-day votes will be voted first. Then Biden’s will start to come in, and they’ll probably come in bigger numbers.” Sure enough that’s exactly what’s happening.


But having gotten advance notice doesn’t make the waiting any easier.


For the first two days, I was a marvel of composer and self-restraint. Yesterday Stephanie and I treated ourselves to lunch at the lake. I ordered a glass of Sauvignon blanc for my nerves. I then kept my phone on the table so I could keep sneaking peeks at it. Drinking at lunch and looking at my phone during a meal are two things I seldom do. The night before, and last night too, I woke up at about 4 a.m. and checked the election stats. The waiting is getting to me.


I’m not the only one.


Last night our President called a press conference that the major networks refused to cover. Even MSNBC, not a news network per se, cut away almost at the beginning of Trump’s remarks.


“If you count the legal votes, I win. I easily win,” he said. But the “illegal ones” (e.g., those for Biden) had to be stolen.


This isn’t exactly a new angle from Trump, who spent the entire last year sounding the alarm of a “rigged election” to whomever would listen.


In the interim he was impeached for trying to persuade a foreign country to smear his opponent. He repeatedly attacked the validity of mail-in voting while authorizing the head of the Post Office (hand-picked by him) to slow down mail service, discard mail sorting machinery, and even remove the blue post boxes from street corners in swing states.


Did anyone truly believe that Trump would NOT cry “unfair!” in this election?


But doing it now, while votes are still being counted and, most notably, without any evidence to support his accusations amounts to a coup. Because if he is no longer the person at the top of the government, then he is trying to topple the person who is.


We are in a gray area at the moment, of course. Donald Trump is still President, but then again his conduct at this moment may very well be subject to different standards than an ordinary citizen’s.


In a USA Today Op Ed this morning, columnist Tom Nichols wrote, “

[Trump] showed his complete contempt for the Constitution, the rule of law and even the semblance of respect for American democratic traditions …

This is the authoritarian we knew would shred the last vestige of the rule of law in an animal panic, and hope for disorder and chaos if it turned out that the American people rejected him.”


If that sounds like a call to violence, it probably is. It wouldn’t be the first time Trump used the power of his office to claim the public attention, then send out messages carefully worded to incite the reaction he wanted to see.



It is one of the things about this year that haunts me — that actually almost left a scar on my psyche, it was so brutal and unfair. Trump first refused to head up a coordinated federal response to COVID, throwing it on the governors. Then when those governors (especially those in “blue states”) exercised their authority, he publicly criticized them, sometimes even inciting reaction against them by homegrown militia groups. Sometimes a tweet from the President like “Liberate Michigan!” is all that’s needed to get the ball rolling.


Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Associated Press


We already know that groups like the “Wolverine Watchmen,” who devised the plot against Governor Whitmer, are seething with rage. We know they’re armed, and we know many of them would follow Trump no matter what he told them to do.


Today as America awaits the results of an election Trump is convinced was “rigged,” we know his supporters are standing by. They have been showing us for weeks that they’re ready to act. It’s just a question now of what will set them off.


I’m guessing their leader’s distress, voiced in a press conference so potentially dangerous that the major networks wouldn’t air it, is plenty of provocation.


So today — it’s now 4:26 — we wait to hear that Joe Biden was voted into office by the citizens of this nation.


And then we wait to see what comes next.




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