by Joe Courter
Jimmy Cliff’s “Sitting here in limbo” comes to my mind. We had the election we’d been waiting for. Four years of the not normal, the not even imaginable, taking place every day.
Looking back, it is like the progress we’d made as a society was being taken away; the hard-fought-for rights, the long-struggled-for environmental regulations, even the trust we had in governmental functioning in the public interest seemed to – was – being taken away by an occupying force. Was there anger, even hate, for the perpetrators of these actions?
Yes, damn right.
So we fought back as we could, with humor and satire, with organizing, with embraced ideals that another way might be possible. Even prior to the 2016 election, in the campaign of Bernie Sanders, we could see better policies we could work toward; climate crisis, income inequity, institutional racism being addressed as well as desires for Medicare for All and tuition relief. Topics already in people’s minds were inflamed by the events taking place, most notably the maltreatment of people of color by police, and then all that the Covid-19 virus showed us, who was suffering the most, who was willing to take it seriously and listen to science, and who wasn’t.
Trump’s utter incompetence in leadership was simply glaring for all who had a mind to look, to see. As the election approached, so many notable people and organizations came out to support Joe Biden. And while he was not their first choice candidate, the idealistic progressive left that backed Bernie Sanders organized, and backed Joe as well.
We made it through to the point of voting, and many thought we’d see a major repudiation, even a landslide. But no, instead we learned over 70 million Americans were fine with Trump, giving him a pass on all we were appalled by. Astonishing.
But thankfully, due to a ton of organizing, Joe Biden prevailed in both popular vote and in the Electoral College. Disappointingly, because enough Republicans came out to reject Trump but not their party, the Senate did not swing Democratic, and the Democratic House lost seats.
So the limbo continues: Trumpian claims of fraud, of crooked vote counting, and Trump not willing to concede. Look, Biden won despite the repeal of the Voting Rights Act, overt sabotage of the Postal Service at a time when vote by mail became important due to Covid-19, the purging of voter eligibility lists, and an ongoing pattern of closing polling locations especially in minority areas. These claims of fraud pale in comparison to these suppression of votes by the Republicans.
Actually, the response to the above voter suppression was quite effective. People learned from the long lines in the primaries to cast their ballot by mail. Because of Covid-19 many more resources were put toward vote by mail, which meant it was handled better.
Roadblocks to pre-election counting of mailed-in votes provided the drama of those urban Democratic vote totals coming in late. They were visibly and heroically counted under pressure, and secured the winning margin with Electoral College wins, as well as about 5 million in the popular vote.
Borrowing from a cartoon image I saw, it is like we have just extracted ourselves from a pit of mud we’d tumbled into and gotten up on solid ground, but are looking up at a hill in front of us that we’ll need to reascend. Maybe we can go up a new path and get to a better place, partly due to changes brought by Covid-19, and partly by embracing science and new ideas. But it will be a hard climb.
So here we are. As of this writing, Trump is not giving up. And all those people who voted for him, those who were out with guns, who were revved up with fears of some imaginary antifa uprising, what will they do? The toxic spew they feed on from the internet will continue. January 20 is a long way away. We are a long way from normal. Huge election in Georgia January 5. And still, Covid lurks. Stay safe out there.