In a contest some years ago to give a motto for the US in six words or less, the runner-up, and the one I’d have chosen, was “Caution! Experiment in Progress since 1776.”
And I would have subtitled it “still in beta version”.
That “experiment” has been playing out over the last few months, or four years, or even longer. And “caution” may be appropriate.
I’m writing this as Americans are voting. By the time you read this, we may — or may not, know the results.
Regardless of those results, though, I’m so glad right now that I am living in Canada, not the (dis)United States.
– my country is more united. We tend to vote centrist parties into office, a compromise of sorts, and leave the more extreme parties and ideas on the fringes. Down South, the parties are drifting further and further to the extremes, leaving a vacuous centre;
– I don’t have to pass by a line of gun-toting vigilantes when I go to vote;
– I don’t have to spend an hour voting for everything from the president to the local dog catcher;
– I don’t have to worry about violence following an election; and I don’t have to worry about contested results that may take weeks of court rulings;
– I don’t have to worry about public policy lurching back-and-forth, not only between contrasting leaders and philosophies, but (as we have witnessed over the last four years) by the leaders themselves;
– I don’t have to face 88 days of stupid policy pronouncements between Election Day and the swearing in of the newly-elected leader;
That said, there are a couple of things about their voting process that I like:
– the opportunity to split the vote. They can vote for one party’s nominee for president, and the other party’s nominees for the Senate or Congress. Had we had that opportunity, I might have split my vote in our recent election;
– they get to vote for the Senate. I don’t agree with voting for the dog-catcher or Sherriff, but I do think we should vote for our Senators.
Now that those things are off my chest, what do I anticipate over the next days and beyond?
– several states will still change colour between election day and the final count of ballots.
– if Trump loses, an attempt to retain the presidency anyways; he won’t step aside graciously.
– if Trump wins, even greater disdain for procedure and further denigration of respect for the White House, as he will consider it vindication of his style. If the Senate goes Democrat, this will be heightened, as he will not be able to count on the Senate to support him.
– if Biden wins, respect for process and the integrity of the White House will return, but he will be one of the weakest presidents in their history (especially if the Senate stays Republican). America’s standing on the world stage will not return to its former leading role.
– if Trump wins, a further widening of the gap between the parties, and an increasing disunity in that country.
– if Biden wins, a modest return to centrist values in the first term but, should he be elected a second time, a reopening of the divide in that term, as he then caters to the more extreme elements of the party.
– if Biden wins, a likely one-term presidency, due to his age and weakness, and a voluntary stepping aside in favour of Harris after four years (Now that’s a bold prediction, isn’t it? But remember: you read it here first);
– if Trump wins, an effort to change the policy (or breach it), to try and secure a third term.
We may be able to set aside some of these prospects by the time you read this, but more likely not before Friday, or perhaps the end of the month, or even January.
Election Day (this year “days”) is a lot like the last minute of a football or basketball game. It’s never over until the final horn sounds!
And this time, we’re not even sure when it will sound.
At least, that’s how I see it . . .