I don't know about you, but lately, I find myself lying awake some nights, just worrying about what's going to happen. I know it's not helpful to worry (or to lose sleep), but things seem so out of place and so uncertain. I'm not sure what to do about it. Part of it is the ongoing pandemic-- it seems almost everyone knows someone who contracted the virus, or we worry about getting it ourselves. Friends of mine are out of work, stores I used to go to have gone out of business, and even in states where the numbers of cases were declining, now they're rising again.
But it's not just the pandemic that has many of us worrying. I'll admit that what really makes me uneasy is the upcoming presidential election, only a couple of days from now. We may or may not not know the results on November 3rd, but what concerns me the most is what comes next. As a Democrat, of course I hope Joe Biden wins, but I have friends who are still supporting this president (for reasons I admit I don't entirely understand), and they hope the president is re-elected. In either case, large numbers of folks are not going to be happy with the result.
Normally, that wouldn't worry me; it happens after every election, and then we move on. But the past three years haven't been normal. This president has done little to bring us together. In fact, he has regularly made hateful remarks about Democrats ever since he took office. Every day, my conservative friends, who get much of their information from whatever the president says, amplified by whatever right-wing commentators tell them, hear relentlessly horrible stuff about those of us in Blue States. They also hear mainstream reporters attacked and demonized, along with anyone (Republican or Democrat) who doesn't show sufficiently loyalty to Mr. Trump.
To those who love this president, he's amazing-- he says he conquered COVID-19, and he says a cure is on the way. The rest of us see things very differently-- we believe he has no plan, and we wish he hadn't marginalized the experts. And we believe he is putting the health and safety of his supporters at risk by holding large rallies, even during a pandemic, as if to show that what he wants (and needs) is more important than protecting the health of the nation. And no matter what happens on November 3rd, he has so demonized mask-wearing (and social distancing) that large numbers of people now refuse to do it.
So, if he loses, will he leave peacefully? He has refused to say that he will. Will his supporters accept that "their guy" lost? Some are already making threats; I hope it's just talk, but what if it's not? And in a world where inflammatory rhetoric and conspiracy theories have been mainstreamed, will we as a country-- both sides-- be able to reestablish trust in government, and restore trust in each other? It may take time, but can we go back to treating each other respectfully, and not insulting each other when we disagree? Can we work together to address the pandemic and heal the problems this chaotic presidency has left us? These are the things that keep me up at night, and I don't think I'm alone.