An Election Day That Is Critical and Inconsequential


Nobody knows what’s going to happen, today, and it seems that most of those making predictions are mainly giving explanations for why what they hope happens will, in fact, happen. Trump supporters are looking at increased support among minority groups and the plainly displayed enthusiasm across the country. Biden supporters (or, more accurately, Trump opponents) are saying how the president is going to lose because he didn’t do enough to draw their votes. (Of course, having watched them over four years, one suspects there was actually nothing at all he could have done to successfully do so.)

Whatever happens, it remains unbelievable that people really want government this big, making elections this important. The word, “big,” is used in two senses, here.  Our government is big as in invasive and extremely powerful.  This fact makes it a matter of critical importance whether the people at the head of it agree or disagree with you.  We’re not merely electing managers or people to make decisions about a limited number of shared concerns.  We’re electing people who will determine whether or not — and how — to tell you what you can and cannot buy, sell, do, say, and (increasingly) believe.

This leads into the second sense of “big,” as in breadth.  There was a time when Texas could be Texas and California could be California. Increasingly, we’re being forced to choose.  People who believe it is important for the government to tell you to do or not to do a particular thing are apt to think it is important for government to tell people everywhere to do or not to do that particular thing.  Thus, every concern becomes a national concern.

With all of the above said, however, the sheer reality of the concern suggests one way in which it doesn’t really matter who wins today.  Economically and with respect to our short-term rights, yes, the election matters a great deal.  But even victories for freedom this time will be fleeting if we don’t start organizing and educating.  Whoever loses this battle, ignorance and tribalism are winning the war, and that is something we must remedy.

Even here in deep-blue Rhode Island, we can’t give up (if the election goes one way) or be complacent (if it goes the other way).  The civic disease is spreading quickly, and it is best fought locally, and it is arguably best fought where it is strongest.  We have to get like-minded people active and working together, and we have to get unlike-minded people thinking about what they believe and understanding why we think it is incorrect.  We have no other option.  Everything else is just buying time.

In the meantime: Go vote!

  • Rhett Hardwick

    It is hard for me to see it as inconsequential. Add two states and we have a Democratic senate for father than I can see. Pack the Court, granted FDR failed at that one, but success would shift the balance. I heat with oil, ban fracking and I could be looking at $3.50 a gallon again. Elections do have consequences.

    • Lou

      “Elections do have consequences”..sure do, the last on cost us 235K dead Americans (and counting) and 7% employment.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        So, I take it that if Mrs. Clinton had won, there would be no dead Americans.

  • Joe Smith

    Rhett – the fact Democrats failed to pick up House seats and control over the Senate (we’ll see I suppose with GA) will make it easier in the 2022 mid-terms, especially if Census projections hold.

    Packing the court will fade, especially if Breyer hangs it up and McConnell doesn’t make too much of show out of Biden’s pick in the end. Also, I bet the court doesn’t throw out Obamacare in total.

    Debt and a likely GOP senate along with lack of a mandate for much progressive real legislation – I suspect there will be some EOs for show and gestures like getting back into Paris Climate – will mean not much and then the mid-terms. No ability like Obama and Trump had to push through some major legislation. Pennsylvania was too close to go back on fracking promise.

    The biggest consequence locally is Gina likely has her get out of here card and leaves a turd pile for McKee without much hope for federal bailout and McKee on the hook to use the $1B vice plug holes. We’ll see if McKee can cobble together some coalition of business and GOP to stave off the progressives who will want their due with the speaker out. – even more so if RI is down to one seat and Langevin doesn’t get a soft landing from Biden.

    Second will be if a vaccine comes through if the election method of 2020 (full mail ballots and lengthy early voting) was an anomaly- hard to tell yet if mail brought out voters who won’t be as motivated if the option isn’t available and Trump is out of the picture.