I recall election night in 2016 vividly. I threw a drop-in election night party—remember group gatherings?—and watched as the results came in over the television. My guests and I were confident that Hillary Clinton would win that night, and I went to bed before the final results were announced.
As I write this, it has been exactly four years since that day. The results of this historic election are unknown to me, and I find myself reflecting on how much I’ve changed in that time. I feel weary and cynical. The world seems more dangerous, and not just because of the pandemic. Politics has become something to be overcome, rather than a vehicle for change.
Forty years ago, Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter, in part, by asking if Americans were better off then than they were in 1976. I’d like to pose that question now. Is this country in better shape today than it was in November of 2016? Almost a quarter of a million Americans are dead from COVID-19, and the commonsense ways of containing the disease have in some quarters been branded un-American and tyrannical. Millions of Americans have slipped into poverty and extremism at home runs rampant.
I don’t know how I’ll feel when I learn the results of the election. If Donald Trump is reelected, this country will face four more years of the same. I do not expect the man will suddenly take a real interest in improving the lot of Americans, or see those who did not vote for him as interesting or important as those who did. If Joe Biden wins, he’ll have to earn the trust of people who see him as a puppet of progressives, as well as those who view him as insufficiently progressive.
All I know is what I want: confidence in our leaders; safety, happiness and security for ourselves; and a collective sense that the system we have works for us. It seems like a lot to ask, but the road to American being in four years than it is today starts right now.
—Harrison Berry, Editor