No One Could Have Predicted...
The one constant of this election year has been uncertainty. Maybe that isn't such a bad thing?
When Justin, Greg, and I started talking about doing a newsletter around the transition we both recognized the need and acknowledged that what the newsletter would ultimately cover was a complete unknown. Would we be looking at a Biden blowout or an election where Americans wouldn’t know the results for weeks? Would there be violent terrorism during and after the election or no? How would the candidates prepare for an orderly transition if the results are unclear? And what happens if the losing candidate (OK, well what happens if Trump) refused to accept the results of the election?
One question we didn’t ponder was what happens if the President gets infected with COVID-19 in the final weeks of the election. Nor did we, or at least I didn’t, consider what happens if multiple figures in Trump’s orbit were also infected. Or what happens when the sitting President potentially exposes the Democratic nominee and his family to the virus?
Last week I wrote that the Trump campaign had long since stopped trying to win the election, opting instead to attempt to win by any other method and sowing as much chaos and uncertainty as it could along the way. We’re seeing this strategy in the President Trump’s illness as well. The White House and the President’s doctors have changed their story so many times that no one knows what to believe and we’re all left to fill in our own theories of what his prognosis actually is. The Trump campaign, apparently not content with how many of their people these rallies have already infected, have announced that despite this week’s events rallies will continue and the safety protocols won’t change at all.
The one constant of this election year has been uncertainty. No one can predict what’s going to happen or how things will shake out. Every time we think we have a handle on it, things change. I’m not a hopeful person by nature but accepting this uncertainty gives me some hope. I spend so much time attempting to game out worst-case scenarios, but it’s easy to forget that worst-case and likely to happen aren’t necessarily the same thing.
Here’s what I do know: Americans are exhausted. We’re tired of this, and most people (if you believe the polls, which I’m inclined to) seem to want a President they don’t have to think about constantly. The chaos and uncertainty we’re living through is less about America’s partisan divide and more about one man and his devoted army of enablers, who want chaos, violence, and unrest.
No one can predict how the rest of this election or a potential transition will unfold, so I won’t bother trying. What I will say is that for the first time since Election night 2016 I’m cautiously optimistic about the future. We can and should be ready for a worst-case scenario, but we can also be open to the possibility of a better than expected outcome.
Driving the Conversation
“Trump's ego, coupled with his disgust for any kind of physical fragility — this is the man who sneered about wounded war veterans that "nobody wants to see that" — has been a major reason that the coronavirus pandemic spiraled out of control in this country.”
The White House Wages War on Transparency: Trump’s Health Edition (Columbia Journalism Review)
“Unsurprisingly, all the lies, contradictions, and obfuscation went down poorly with the Washington press corps. “What is the actual state of President Trump’s health?” a palpably-exasperated Jonathan Swan, of Axios, asked on Saturday. “It’s one of the most high-stakes questions in the world, and I cannot answer it, despite having spent since 5am on Friday on my phone with sources inside and close to the White House.””
“If Trump becomes incapacitated before Election Day and Republicans need to replace him on the ticket, the decision of who to pick is entirely up to the 168-member Republican National Committee.
The major wrinkle in all of this is that we are currently in the middle of an active election. Trump’s name has already been printed on millions of ballots around the country. Early voting has commenced in multiple states, and millions of mail-in ballots are being sent out to voters in multiple states.”
Voters Dread Election: ‘It’s Going to Be Hell No Matter What’ (New York Times)
But as the days lurch toward November, there is a remarkably bipartisan sentiment: dread.
“Just stick the knife in,” Marlay Shollenberger, 33, said of the looming election and all of the terrifying discord that could accompany it. “That’s kind of where I’m at.”
Calls To Action
Today is the last day to register to vote in several states. Be sure to check your registration and make sure it’s updated. There are several sites to help you do this but this one is my favorite.
The next step is to make a plan to vote. This year, with so many hurdles, it’s more important than ever to know your options and have a plan to cast your ballot. Here’s my plan: I applied for a mail-in ballot that I’ll drop off at an early vote location. What’s yours?
Your Moment of Cute
Thanks so much for reading. Don’t forget to forward to friends and colleagues who might be interested! Enjoy today’s moment of cute. You’ve earned it.
American Interregnum is a pop-up newsletter covering the Presidential transition period from November 3rd, 2020 to January 21st, 2021. It is written and edited by Justin Hendrix, Greg Greene, and Melissa Ryan. Got questions or comments? We love your feedback. Reply directly to this email. We read all responses and respond to most.