Last week, I wrote about the rather dismal mood in America on election night. On Saturday, though, we got a break, or, those of us who voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris got a break, anyway. The election was called for Joe Biden on Saturday, and it turned into a national day of celebration (for some of us). I went out into my neighborhood and celebrated and laughed and bumped elbows with strangers. The mood reminded me a lot of the night the Cubs won the World Series in 2016. That event also happened in the middle of a terrible time in America, but for just a little while we enjoyed a respite from the doom and gloom of our political reality. That is what Saturday felt like—respite, a brief break, a moment to celebrate. You have to let joy into your life when it comes, or else you’ll go crazy. Saturday was a joyous day, and there will be more joyous days to come (inauguration day 2021, for example). But this doesn’t mean all of our problems are magically fixed.
We’re still an incredibly divided nation. And more distressingly, the division seems insurmountable as so much of it is rooted in conspiracy and magical thinking. Trump hasn’t conceded, and he probably won’t—he TOLD us he wouldn’t commit to a peaceful transfer of power. I don’t know why people still won’t take this dude at his word, he has at every twist and turn been exactly as awful as his entire time on this planet suggests he is. But worse, he’s fanning the flames of conspiratorial voter fraud and undermining the democratic process that has to keep working once he’s gone. There has been no viable evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, at any level. A simple clerical error briefly caused confusion in Michigan, but it was quickly corrected—the system WORKED, but yet conspiracies abound. Meanwhile, Republican mouthpieces are spreading misinformation, and GOP leaders are not en masse signaling they accept the results and getting on with the transition.
This is what I mean when I say America is probably irreparably broken. In 2016, 48% of eligible voters didn’t vote, and while voter apathy is a serious issue, it can at least be addressed through policies and candidates that excite people (as Barack Obama did in 2008). But in 2020, amid record-high voter turnout, the story is less about apathy and more about alternate reality. The number of conspiracies circulating about this election are insane. How do you overcome that? How do you overcome millions of people who don’t see reality—who don’t WANT to see reality? That’s the kind of problem even a “normal” Biden presidency can’t fix. We’re increasingly polarized but it’s not really about which side of the aisle you vote for, it’s about which reality you choose to live in, the actual one or the one with all the voter fraud and a democratic cabal who eats babies (QAnon: It’s insane!).
There are still lots of reasons to be pessimistic about America, even with President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris waiting in the wings. But as I said at the top, you have to let joy into your life as it comes, and this weekend offered a lot of joy. The joy of Black and South Asian girls across the country seeing themselves in the seat power, the joy of ending one of the cruelest and least humane presidencies in American history, and the total, overwhelming joy of Four Seasons Total Landscaping. I cannot describe to you the sound I made when I read that Trump’s people booked a press conference in the parking lot of a landscaping company sandwiched between a crematorium and sex shop, it was somewhere between a sob and a bray, I was so overtaken by the absolutely absurd, unintentional comedy of it.
I will leave you with this: American democracy is in danger and one election will not fix that, but also, Four Seasons Total Landscaping is a joke so good you could never write it on purpose. I’m going to laugh about that forever. It will pop into my brain at random intervals and elicit a chuckle for the rest of my life, like all the best jokes do. Was the Trump presidency worth this one, perfect, unintentional joke? No, of course not. But I will laugh anyway, and let the joy wash over me, because joy can drive progress as much as fear drives hatred. I will never stop fighting for a fairer and more equitable America, and Four Seasons Total Landscaping will never not be funny.
I work at Four Seasons Total Landscaping in PA pic.twitter.com/cX6bIMkag8— Christine Nangle (@nanglish) November 8, 2020