AS ELECTION DAY NEARS, A KEY CONTEST IS FEAR VERSUS HOPE
I’M REALLY AFRAID.
Actually, afraid doesn’t really describe it. I’m terrified, frightened, heart-stoppingly, stomach-churning scared stupid at the prospect of the nightmare that will occur if Republicans win next week.
If the they take over one branch of Congress or both, if they win election-controlling posts in the states, then our fragile democracy may be on its way to ruin.
Which is not to say the GOP will win on Nov. 8.
I’d like to believe that enough Americans care about their country, and understand the horror that malevolent governments bring about in other places of the world, voters won’t let that happen to the United States of America.
Most people I’ve met in my 80-plus years are, at their core, nice.
They help out in homeless shelters; contribute to fund-raising campaigns for sick children. They care about their children. They coach their kids’ teams, go into hawk for their college educations, buy them cars. Some jump onto subway tracks to rescue people who have fallen off. Others volunteer to fight in Ukraine. Lots of people adopt dogs facing death in over-filled kennels.
There are just millions upon millions of people who want to make their country better, and a lot of them are voting right now and will turn out next Tuesday.
As to the other half of America, I’m at a loss to understand why they are devoted to Donald Trump and his attempt to overthrow the last election; why they demonize children struggling with gender identity; why they don’t want other people to have medical care, homes, good educations; why they want to ban books in school libraries; why they make fun of an 82-year-old man who’s had his skull hammered just because he’s Mr. Pelosi.
So, with the 2022 election only days, really just hours, away, I’m an emotional wreck.
I WONDER HOW PEOPLE who already are in desperate situations cope – the people who are in Ukraine, fighting off the Russian invaders; people who don’t have food; people already facing the devastation of climate change, their homes destroyed by fire and floods; people who already are seeing their reservoirs go dry; people who’ve already lost their children to bullets on city streets and in small town classrooms.
One way that I’m trying to cope with election anxiety is not to predict the election or listen to other people’s predictions, until the votes are counted.
I’m doing a few small things that I’m not sure will make a difference, but that at least might, theoretically, possibly. My wife and I wrote 355 letters for the Vote Forward campaign, which asked volunteers write brief, non-partisan messages simply asking folks to vote, without suggesting whom or what party to vote for.
I’ve been canvassing for the Democratic candidate, Seth Magaziner, who’s the Democratic candidate for the Rhode Island’s open Congressional seat. Most people I visit aren’t home or not answering the door; some have lost faith in the “system” and aren’t voting; a few have voted already; some won’t say who for, which probably means they’re voting for Seth’s Republican opponent.
These are very, very limited things, these steps. My Vote Forward letters were hand-written, which means in my case, they were hand-scrawled-printed in a barely readable script you’d expect to find in a ransom note. It’ll be a surprise if many recipients open them and a miracle if even one goes to the polls as a result.
I have friends who are doing the very same things.
ONE THING I'M NOT DOING in these final seconds leading up to Nov. 8 – and I am a journalist by trade – I am not following the news, listening to NPR, watching TV news, hardly glancing at the two newspapers that land on our bushes or those that show up online; I'm not tuning into the liberal cable network,MSNBC or downloading political podcasts
Our house is in a news blackout.
Because I don’t want to hear that the polls aren’t looking good or that they are; don't want to hear that the Democrats have botched messaging; that the trends are terrible or terrific; that history of midterms disfavors the “party in power,” that Joe Biden’s favorability numbers are a drag on the rest of the Democrats or what the shocking results of the latest focus group of barely interested voters are telling us - or not.
I know the reporters and the analysts and the pundits have to write and talk about something, and that many of them are doing their best to provide a running account of where things stand. But right now, they don’t really know – not absolutely – what’s going to happen.
I’m not letting anyone take away my hope.
I know that underdogs win in politics as well as in sports. I know if I get discouraged, depressed, and down in the dumps, I’ll give up on carrying out the little, but actual, things I can do before election day, things that may influence the outcome in a close race.
I need to keep focused on working, on winning, because I’ll despise myself, looking back, if I don’t do the little I can because I gave up too early, and I got talked out of hope. I happen to live in a tiny, terrific state whose motto is “Hope;” it’s right there on on the Rhode Island state flag.
I know that if “we” lose on election day, that the fight for democracy will not be over, because the evil forces that are at work today will be still at it tomorrow. I know that if “we” lose the election, that the fight for democracy must continue; it will be just that much harder.
So, until the long-anticipated Nov. 8 that’s now just seconds away, I’m listening to music, watching mysteries on TV and ringing door bells -- hoping at least one person will answer and agree that their vote counts.
BRIAN C. JONES