It seems that democracy in America will live to see another cycle, and it’s such a relief to see that the system is still working. It may not be working amazingly well, granted, but at least it’s worked again this time. We all owe a debt of gratitude to state and local election officials across the country. Given the challenges, from a pandemic and foreign interference to the distrust sowed by the President himself, they’ve performed admirably.
We’re not out of the woods yet, however, not by a long stretch. Not in the short term, and definitely not in the long term. First, we’ve got to make it through the next few days of inevitable challenges and recounts. Then, assuming all goes will with that, there’s the next few months. Given President Trump’s unwillingness to deal with the reality of the election process so far, it’s hard to imagine that, even if he does concede, he will cooperate one bit in executing the transfer of power that America has managed to do so many times before.
Whether the Secret Service has to escort Trump from the White House on Inauguration Day, or less dramatically, that Trump will just disappears from the office to retreat to one of his golf courses, almost any reasonable scenario leaves the incoming administration in the very uncomfortable position of taking charge of the American government during a global pandemic without a clean handoff.
That’s going to be rough. Once we make it through that, we’ll have to consider ourselves incredibly lucky that America made it to 2021. Then, Democrats, Republicans, and independents of every stripe are going to have to come together do something to walk our country back from the brink. We have to recognize that the differences that have brought us here have so very little to do with policy and almost everything to do with absolute partisanship. If we want America to make it past 2024, there’s a lot of work to do, now. Otherwise, the next aspiring authoritarian may indeed manage to break everything.
First, however, let’s make it through this interregnum.