When the election doesn’t fall your way
Elections That Don’t Go Your Way Hurt
Let me start by saying — as I write this, I have no idea who will win the national popularity contest. I haven’t checked. I’ll follow that with the caveat that I’m not sure it matters. Whoever wins has an economic and societal mess on their hands and I think they might go down in history as the last president of the United States (but that’s a topic for another post).
We did it again.
We participated in a democratic process to choose who gets the biggest megaphone for the next four years. One side will win. The other side will lose. We’re all certain our side is the right side and must win “the most important election in our lifetime” or the world as we know it will spin out of control and dogs will start mating with cats or something equally calamitous. We’ve put a lot of our souls into the last year, fighting with our now-former friends and now-estranged family members, to try to save the galaxy from the Orange Man or the Senile Hair-Sniffer. Democracy is at stake, after all. The world is watching and judging us and our vote truly matters on crucial days like today.
And tomorrow or next week or January 2021, we will know whether we won or not and if we lost — well, then, we’ll see whether we are as committed democrats as we pretend. Let’s face it, if my side lost, that means the other side won and, that’s unacceptable to me.
You see, that small “d” democrat means we participate in an election and we agree to accept the results of the vote count as determined by the Electoral College, which is another discussion for another time. When committed democrats lose an election, they are supposed to accept the results of that election. They aren’t required to sit down and shut up. They’re allowed to lobby their congressional delegation and post memes all they want, but they aren’t supposed to plot insurrection because, in a democracy, we accept the results of elections.
You Can Be Forgiven for Not Knowing That
Americans haven’t done that for a while. In 2000, a portion of the electorate decided not to accept the results of an election and insisted the presumed adult voters of Florida couldn’t figure out how to properly execute a ballot.
For the record, butterfly ballots were one of the easier things I’ve done in my life — certainly easier than driving myself to the polls or walking and chewing gum at the same time.
Ever since, some portion of the electorate have had difficulties with accepting the results of democratic processes. Democrats fumed for the entire eight years and right through the second election of Bush 2 because they were certain if their candidates lost, it had to be fraud, or stupidity on the part of the voters who defeated their candidate. Republicans were less vitriolic about Obama’s two wins, but they suspected Obama voters were motivated by something other than common sense. And in the last four years, we’ve quit mincing about and we now declare evil anyone who disagrees with us in the ballot box.
Some of us are so convinced that, if democracy didn’t uphold our will, that gives us a right to assault those who took that result away from us.
Don’t they see how important it is for the world to align with my values? The universe hinges on it. If I can’t get my way, I should be allowed to make all those hateful people do what I want anyway.
So tomorrow (or possibly January 2021) we’ll find out whether our values are acceptable to other people in the country. Will democracy work or will it fail us once again? If the Big Bad Orange or the Senile Hair-Sniffer wins, the world is over, folks. This is the most important election of our lifetime.
Take a Deep Breath and Consider … What If It isn’t?
Maybe we need a better way to decide such important issues. Maybe these issues shouldn’t be that important. Maybe we should all take a deep cleansing breath and consider whether it is worth it to alienate friends, family, and neighbors over the results of a popularity contest to determine who will be our “leader” for the next four years.
Maybe there’s something a little crazy about rotating power between two parties based on an election result.
Yes, it’s a better alternative than war for selecting “rulers”, but take a pause and think about this from a not-so-committed-democrat position. Why do we need rulers? I’m an adult. You’re an adult. We make major decisions every day without consulting Donald Trump or Joe Biden. Can’t we rule ourselves?
Maybe if we weren’t so fixated on a democratic result that we have deemed the crux of the universe, we’d consider how our individual choices affect the world. Maybe instead of using a political cudgel to force our neighbors to do what we want, we’d sit down over coffee and discuss our differing viewpoints.
I know, radical thinking.
Possibly one of those coffee discussions, repeated millions of times, would address whether the lives of 330 million people should be subject to the whims of a single ruler chosen by a popularity contest.
Democracy is a better choice than war for deciding how to organize society, but it isn’t the only choice and, if we stopped wasting so much energy on a democratic battle every four years, possibly we could develop some of those other choices.
Lela Markham is an Alaska-based novelist and blogger interested in a variety of topics often from a libertarian and/or nonpartisan position. It is certain her candidate didn’t win the 2020 popularity contest.