By Ken Ripley
Saturday was a great day for a majority of voting Americans — after four days of tense vote counting, Joe Biden was projected by all the networks as winning the Electoral College as well as the popular vote to become the next president of the United States.
The American people have fired Donald Trump. Although the president refused to concede and vowed legal challenges to what he falsely claims is election fraud, no credible evidence of any fraud has been uncovered and veteran election lawyers say the vote totals are high enough that it’s highly unlikely any lawsuits or recounts will overturn the projections. When all the states finish counting and certifying their races, our sociopathic and narcissistic president will officially be a loser.
After four years of chaos, corruption, cruelty and controversy, particularly during the last year thanks to both Trump’s impeachment and botched response to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the election was not just another routine clash between Democratic and Republican policies. Many if not most Americans saw the election as a pivotal moment in American history and a direct referendum on Donald Trump.
The proof of that is that this election’s turnout broke records. According to preliminary figures, the Nov. 3 election had a turnout of 66.9% nationally, the highest turnout rate since 1900. Biden defeated Trump by a healthy 75.4 million votes to only 70.9 million for Trump, huge numbers on both sides, but a decisive 4.5 million margin for Biden that Trump or his supporters can’t lie away.
North Carolina had an even bigger turnout, 74.6%, and Nash County did even better at 75.7%, the biggest election turnout I’ve seen in my long lifetime. And while Trump has a small but real lead in state totals, Nash County by the slimmest of margins picked Biden over Trump as well as supported U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham over Thom Tillis and county native Gov. Roy Cooper over challenger Dan Forest.
Another sign of this election’s importance is that on Saturday, news of Biden’s victory over Trump was greeted by hours of Americans’ dancing in the streets of our biggest cities, crying out and waving signs that made it clear they were less celebrating Biden’s win than Trump’s defeat. Most world leaders, who have generally been appalled at America’s abdication of leadership and untrustworthy diplomacy by this administration, sent fervent congratulations on the change of leadership.
Because both sides did a great job of turning out their voters, millions of voters were also disappointed in the outcome. The gun-toting and true-believing base, gullible to the end on Trump’s lies, haven’t accepted the reality Trump lost the election fairly and firmly. Trump has been trying to stir them up to violent protest, and such danger is serious right now. But for most people who supported Trump, especially those who say they don’t like the man but prefer his policies, their disappointment is political and can be assuaged by positive and constructive moves by Biden.
Most voters, whether happy Democrats or disappointed Republicans, deserve praise for doing their patriotic duty of picking a president. And they’ve earned the right to complain for the next four years if they don’t like the result. Everyone should be proud at all the people who took the time and effort to participate in the world’s biggest democracy. That alone makes the election a success.
The next few months until Jan. 20 may be very difficult, even dangerous. Trump’s flawed and vengeful personality, wounded by his defeat, is unpredictable. His legacy would be best served by being graceful in defeat and cooperative in the transition, but don’t count on it. He’ll mount his legal challenges, however futile, which is his right. He will certainly tweet out more venom and lies, unfortunately. But what other damage he might inflict during the next few months is unknown. If the country is lucky, Trump might spend his remaining days in office in a sullen mood, content to play golf and leave the work to others. But I’m not counting on that either.
Biden, for his part, will have his hands full preparing to take office. With or without the administration’s cooperation, he’s got a lot to do even with all his experience. The states will complete the election process and the machinery of government will grind along. Other Republican leaders will gnash their teeth for awhile longer, but eventually they’ll find their spines and move on, secretly relieved at no more Trump.
My recommendation for the rest of us is that, election over, we try to tune out the politics, ignore Twitter and Facebook and go about our daily lives, trying to avoid the coronavirus and figuring out ways to enjoy the holidays ahead without risking our lives. That should be enough to keep us busy. I’d suggest we start smiling more at each other again, but with masks on, who can tell?
Soon enough, Jan. 20 will get here and the Bidens will be in the White House. And I am looking for less drama: no horrific tweets, no scandals, no more torrents of lies and abuse. Joe Biden is honest, decent and sane. He may not have the power or ability to fix all America’s problems, but if he can just fix the presidency, all of us will be much, much happier and better off.
Let’s give him that chance.
Ken Ripley, a Spring Hope resident, is The Enterprise’s editor and publisher emeritus.