Accepting Loss

Next week is not going to be a fun week for America. It’s sad to say that going into election day, but I don’t see any way around it. No matter who wins next week, 40% of the country is going to be very happy, and 40% of the country is going to be very sad (give or take a few percent). Emotions are so tied up in this election at the moment, and all of that compounds as you add all the other stressors going on in our lives. The economy. Unemployment. Protests. COVID.

I’m worried, and I know I’m not alone in my worrying.

I’m not just worried about how the people who lose are going to take their loss. We’ve seen mass riots over losses and wins in America over things as (let’s face it) inconsequential as professional sports. We’re already living in a reality where citizens have been showing up armed to protest for and against issues. I’m very concerned there will be actual street fights over the results of this election, as sore winners taunt sore losers, and everything spirals into yuck.

While the polls may be indicating a Biden win at the moment, I’m already steeling myself for what might happen if he loses. If that’s the way the cookie crumbles, then it is what it is. I (obviously) have deeply held beliefs about who he is and what he stands for, but if the majority of the nation on election day feels differently (or at least, as far as the electoral college is concerned), then that’s the reality I’m living in, and I have to push forward. It doesn’t mean all the people who agree with me disappear, but it does mean the fight needs to continue.

The thing is, the reverse is also true. Even if Biden wins, that doesn’t make all the Trump supporters magically disappear either. The election might make it easier to deal with some of the issues that have arisen over the last four years, but there will still be plenty of work that needs to be done, and that work will require as many Americans working together as possible.

In other words, whichever way we vote on election day, we’re still Americans, and we still have to face the immediate problems together. I know some Trump supporters believe COVID is overblown, and that all the trouble around it will disappear as soon as the election is over. I disagree, but it would be lovely if you were right. Even if you are, we’ll still have the fallout of the last six months to handle, and we have the best shot of handling that by uniting to face it.

Of course, it’s also very possible that nothing is solved at all by next Wednesday. That we move from this sort of limbo into a new one, where state results and votes are contested, and there’s fighting around “who won” right up through the end of the year. I tend to think that would be even worse, though I also think we need to make sure all votes are counted before we make any definitive statements. (In an ideal world, enough of the votes are in in enough of the states that have already counted for us to already know what’s going to happen, but this is 2020. What are the odds of that actually happening?)

I don’t have any big huge observations to make. I’m worried about next week. Worried about the winners and the losers, regardless of who ends up being in which category. And I’m hoping that if we can all see ourselves as both for a little bit, then we’ll have the compassion needed to get through November and December and however many more months we need to.

Wish us luck.


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