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  • Glenn Sonnenberg

Musings from the Bunker 11/4/20


Friends,


The above hardly does justice to what we collectively have been through this year.


Needless to say, I pretty much had to trash my original Musing for today. That Musing contained some "first 100 days" hopes for a Biden/Harris administration. Needless to say, that's on hold.


I'm writing this in front of the TV at nearly 11:00 PST. It is very well possible that what you read here is superseded by news in the wee hours.


First, mea culpa. I was wrong. I seriously misread the polls, the news, the mood and, most importantly, the effect of the Trump years. I felt this would be a seminal election and a definitive "blue wave." That's not the case--not by a longshot.


I am dumbfounded that there are so many people in our country who must believe that Mr. Trump has done a good job. On the COVID-19 response alone he should be defeated. On the economy, positioning on racial injustice, and so many other issues it should not have been a close election.


Mr. Trump has never been above a 50% job approval (most of the time hovering in the low-40s), he has been the subject of endless controversy, and was impeached, What a mess.


It seems that the Senate will remain in Republican control and, while the House should remain under Democratic control, albeit with less of a gain for the Democrats as was expected.


IF THE DEMOCRATS LOSE THE SENATE (AND PERHAPS THE PRESIDENCY)


What would it mean? Fear of the far left agenda? The misstatement about fracking by Vice President Biden? Continuing feeling by working class of being left behind? People buying into the misinformation they've been receiving endlessly on social media? Too much of the "political correctness," particularly on college campuses? There will be plenty of time to digest, dissect and analyze the data. But the message might well be that 2020 was just a rerun of 2016.


Win or lose, the Democrats are going to need to figure out how to speak to whole swaths of the country that don't read the New York Times and the Atlantic, but instead get their news on-line, from friends, or from Fox News. 


THE PRESIDENT IS STILL UP TO HIS ANTICS


His tweet today that was flagged as untrue/misleading by Twitter:


"We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed."


Just to be clear, no one wants to cast votes after the polls close; there will be days of counting of mailed-in votes. It takes time. Indeed, as I write this, over 2,000,000 ballots have not yet been counted in Pennsylvania. The fact that the President of the United States continues to lie about the electoral process and lie about what is being done, consistent with all past elections, is reprehensible behavior.


CONCESSION WITH GRACE


We have been electing presidents for 232 years. The elections were often intense and sometimes acrimonious. But in the end, we elected a President (well, maybe not so cut-and-dry in 1820 and 1876). And when we did, the person defeated engaged in a ritual of national celebration, bonding and hope called the “concession speech.” This election likely will be followed by anger, invective, demonstrations, and, perhaps, violence.


Here are some of the thoughtful words of some past also-rans. They offer food for thought as we count the votes in an election derided by our current President for being fraudulent and fixed long before it happened. Someone will win this election. I can imagine a message of unity from Biden on a loss. Can anyone imagine such magnanimity from Trump if he loses?


Here are John McCain’s words of concession to Barack Obama 12 years ago:


“Sen. [Barack] Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day — though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her Creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise. . . . And my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude . . . to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Sen. Obama and my old friend, Sen. Joe Biden, should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.”


Or eight years ago and these words from Mitt Romney:


“I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory. His supporters and his campaign also deserve congratulations. I wish all of them well, but particularly the president, the first lady and their daughters. (Applause.) This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation.”


Or 16 years ago and John Kerry:


“I spoke to President Bush and I offered him and Laura our congratulations on their victory. We had a good conversation, and we talked about the danger of division in our country and the need -- the desperate need for unity, for finding the common ground, coming together. Today I hope that we can begin the healing.”

A great article on concessions over the last fifty years comes from Newsweek: https://www.newsweek.com/brief-history-presidential-concession-speeches-518527

Finally, Stephen A. Douglas conceding to Abraham Lincoln 160 years ago, shortly before shots would be fired on Fort Sumter:


"Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I'm with you, Mr. President, and God bless you." 


Wishing for better days ahead,


Glenn

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