More and more people talk and write as if the outcome of the election is no longer in any doubt and that a peaceful transfer of power will occur on Jan. 20, either with Donald Trump accepting the result and providing some minimal graceless level of cooperation, or with Trump still pouting and fuming but nonetheless evacuating the White House and relinquishing the nuclear codes.
I’m not there yet. It seems slightly more likely every day that something like that will occur, but I can’t really unclench until the transfer of authority has actually occurred.
But, I’m happy to report that Tom Friedman, the pride of St. Louis Park and the New York Times, has moved on. Biden will be president, Trump will slink off and pout, according to Friedman, who is not right about every single thing but is definitely smarter than me. So, I’ll just pass along an excerpt of Friedman’s look back at what just happened, and hope he’s right. Here’s the top of his most recent column, which I would describe as somewhere between jaunty and chastened:
So how do I feel two weeks after our election? Awed and terrified. I am in awe at the expression of democracy that took place in America. It was our most impressive election since 1864 and maybe our most important since 1800. And yet, I am still terrified that, but for a few thousand votes in key states, how easily it could have been our last election.
To put my feelings in image form: It’s like Lady Liberty was walking across Fifth Avenue on Nov. 3 when out of nowhere a crazy guy driving a bus ran the red light. Lady Liberty leapt out of the way barely in time, and she’s now sitting on the curb, her heart pounding, just glad to be alive. But she knows — she knows — how narrowly she escaped, that this reckless driver never stops at red lights and is still out there, and, oh my God, lots of his passengers are still applauding the thrilling ride, even though deep down many know he’s a menace to the whole city.
Let’s unpack all of this. Stop for a second and think about how awesome this election was. In the middle of an accelerating pandemic, substantially more Americans voted than ever before in our history — Republicans, Democrats and independents. And it was their fellow citizens who operated the polling stations and conducted the count — many of them older Americans who volunteered for that duty knowing they could contract the coronavirus, as some did.
That’s why this was our greatest expression of American democratic vitality since Abraham Lincoln defeated Gen. George B. McClellan in 1864 — in the midst of a civil war. And that’s why Donald Trump’s efforts to soil this election, with his fraudulent claims of voting fraud, are so vile.
I’m trying to get there. Most of the commentators have moved on from the question of whether Trump will go. I just need a bit more certainty.