By the time you read this, we may officially have chosen a president of the United States for the next four years. Or not.
As I write this column, the election is over, but the vote counting continues. The challenges, the lawsuits and the recounts could take a while.
Today, whether you are reading a freshly-printed newspaper, or have found me online, it’s possible that the losing candidate has already delivered a concession speech. It was surely filled with words of hope and unity.
It’s also possible that I have won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. By now, you know which is more realistic.
On “The Day After,” I invited a couple of my friends for a postelection visit. I baited them with the promise of an outdoor lunch on a beautiful day. As soon as we sat down, I revealed my true intentions.
You see, politically they’re red and blue. They have much in common despite their political leanings, so they get along fine. In the past, we have largely avoided such talk, but I wanted to get their take on the election. I promised them total confidentiality. So for this story, they are truly Red and Blue.
“Let’s say your guy wins reelection,” I said to Red. “Now what do we do?”
“More babies will be protected,” he said. “We will keep our guns, prices will remain low, and more conservative judges will be appointed to keep us on the right track.”
“And if he loses?” I said.
“Well,” he replied, “that would be a disaster. All this progress goes down the drain. You’ll have no support for law enforcement or the military, and the rioters will call the shots.”
Blue wasn’t about to let that go unchallenged. “OK,” he said. “Let’s move away from the Fox News narrative for a minute. Nobody’s coming after your guns. And (Joe) Biden has had nothing but praise for the military, and for police officers. He served under (Barack) Obama for eight years, you still have your guns.”
After a few laughs, they agreed that the recent barrage of cable TV shouters and political attack ads had distorted reality, at least a little bit.
Red convinced Blue that President (Donald) Trump is responsible for a strong economy, and Blue assured Red that former Vice President Biden wouldn’t defund the police.
Amid all the partisan potshots, it’s easy to forget that our nation has survived some serious wounds and bruises over 240-plus years. Our parents and those who came before them fended off world wars, a civil war, other deadly foreign conflicts, a massive depression, some awful recessions, pandemics, diseases, organized crime, disorganized crime, assassinations, race riots, crooked presidents, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, natural disasters, droughts and disco. Surely we can handle another four years of Trump, or adapt to four years of Biden.
Red joked that if Biden won the election, he might move to Canada. Of course, Red isn’t moving to Canada, he has never been north of Dollywood. If I had a nickel for every celebrity who has “threatened” to move to Canada after an election, I wouldn’t need that sweepstakes money, would I?
I will admit that after one particular presidential race, I was depressed when the results were announced on election night. I finally went to sleep, and when I woke up the next morning, the sun came up, and my dog still loved me. Life goes on.
Our lunch conversation soon veered away from politics, and touched on things that matter. Blue’s grandson just earned a baseball scholarship. Red’s daughter just told him she’s expecting a second child. Blue wondered what was being built where that restaurant used to be? We’ve got enough apartment buildings already. Red asked if school buses ever going to have seat belts. He can’t believe it hasn’t already happened, while Blue thinks that’s a bad idea. They’re both looking forward to the holidays, and they agree that COVID-19 will make it all weird this year.
We went our separate ways with elbow bumps (a poor substitute for hugs), and we loved each other just as we did when we arrived. By now, one of them has surely celebrated a presidential win, and the other probably said some unprintable words about a loss.
We likely won’t see each other until after Inauguration Day, and whoever ends up being sworn in will surely be a topic of conversation. Red will look at it one way, and Blue will see it totally different.
Each will still love his family, and one another. I wish more Americans could agree to disagree, no matter who is in the White House. Hopefully the pandemic will soon fade, we will get our lives back, and the shouting will subside. Frankly, our country could use a nap. I bet we’ll feel better when we wake up.