Overheard at the polls —
Voter 1: “How long have you been waiting to vote?”
Voter 2: “Four years!”
It seems like everyone I know is dealing with some form of election day anxiety. With so much at stake, it’s hard not to be. We truly are fighting for the soul of our country.
In my lifetime, there has never been as stark of a choice to be made at the presidential level. I take some comfort from the fact that the polls show Joe Biden having a strong lead overall, and enough of a lead in swing states to have an 89% chance of winning the election. It’s even looking increasingly likely that Democrats could regain control of the Senate. And yet we all remember 2016, and the trauma we experienced when the polls were wrong, and Hillary Clinton — the more experienced, qualified, presidential candidate who won the popular vote — lost the Electoral College by a slim margin in just three states. Since 2020 has already been such a difficult year, how can this election be any less difficult? How can we have hope?
First, I want to share the strong, positive signs that I see, beyond the polling – there are many. Then, I’ll address how I’m dealing with the slim, but still real chance that Donald Trump wins.
STRONG, POSITIVE SIGNS
- There are many, many, many people in this country who do NOT want a repeat of the last four years, and they are organizing and showing up in ways they’ve never done before. Suburban women are some of the strongest examples of this in numerous states, including key swing states.
- Women led a blue wave of voter turnout and ran for office at unprecedented levels in 2018, which brought Nancy Pelosi back in as Speaker of the House. None of that energy has abated in the past two years – if anything, their success has emboldened more women to get active and get involved in politics.
- Healthcare continues to be a wedge issue that splits by gender. As more women show up to vote, and #votelikeamother, they are driving a more humanitarian agenda, which includes expanding healthcare coverage and ending this pandemic.
- We have seen a HUGE number of voters show up, and wait in long lines, to vote early. (In fact, we are on track to have a RECORD voter turnout in this election.) This early voting is favoring Democrats for the most part.
- And last, but certainly not least, there are numerous prominent Republicans who have endorsed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, including Cindy McCain (widow of Senator John McCain of Arizona) and Tom Ridge, former Governor of Pennsylvania, as well as retired military leaders and other influential figures. They don’t agree with Democrats on all matters, but they want to restore dignity to the White House.
PREPARING FOR THE WORST, JUST IN CASE
In spite of these positive signs, there’s still a chance that Donald Trump could win. Fortunately, it’s a slim possibility. But it can’t be ignored. I’ve forced myself to prepare for this possibility.
Preparation & Mindset
I’ve turned to the advice from self-help experts who typically tell us to address anxiety by asking ourselves “what’s the worst that could happen?” and then preparing for it. The problem is that another four years of Donald Trump’s destructive ways, if unchecked, is almost unthinkable.
Nonetheless, I’ve been preparing for this possibility by reading books about what people have endured in the past, including books about World War II and books about slavery and its long aftermath. They remind me that humans have a phenomenal capacity to endure even the most profound hardships. As Nelson Mandela said, “When people are determined, they can overcome anything.” I don’t want us to have to face more of these hardships, but I want to acknowledge that it’s possible to survive them. Our spirit is unstoppable, and the mindset we adopt is essential.
To that end, here’s what I know: I will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give up the fight for the causes I believe in. Universal healthcare is just one of them. Saving our environment, reducing inequality, addressing racism, helping immigrants, ensuring educational opportunity for all… the list is long. If Trump somehow wins, he will NEVER win over my heart and mind. If anything, he will steel my resolve to fight harder for what I believe in. Four years ago, this resolve drove me to write a book. It’s something I never thought I’d do, and yet I’m so glad that I did. What might four more years mean? I don’t know yet, but I can assure you that I won’t take a Trump win lying down. I will never forget the powerful, peaceful protests we have had with the Women’s Marches and so many other gatherings. Making change does not happen overnight, and won’t even happen in just four years. It took decades of activism to get to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and we’re still not done with that fight. We have to persist, no matter what.