Contrary to campaign slogans, Tuesday’s election is not a battle for the heart and soul of America, and no matter the outcome, Americans can rest assured they will wake up Wednesday morning to a country still intact.
For evidence, see 230 years’ worth of presidential elections, most of which have had their share of contention, baseless accusations and spurious threats. One was held during a war with half the country dangling in secession. The Constitution has survived, Americans have thrived and the republic has a way of moving forward.
For more evidence, consider the feelings of the country’s voters. Almost 7 in 10 Americans surveyed think politicians aren’t nearly as important as they think they are, according to a recent PoliticalIQ.com poll. And a majority believes culture leads while politicians lag. Put another way, most Americans think their communities are the drivers of change and that representatives come in later to codify the movement.
That’s a ray of sunlight in this year’s political thunderstorms: The country will emerge from Election Day because Americans choose to go on organizing their neighborhoods, petitioning one another for change and solving their own problems.
Don’t mistake us for glossing over the importance of voting or the issues at hand. The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November is a solemn day appointed for citizens to voice their preferences for the direction of the country. Health care, tax reform, immigration, and the national debt — these are national issues that need concerted leadership and compromise for officials to reach solutions. They in many ways touch the lives of individuals around the country, and they deserve the engagement of voters who should cast their ballots accordingly.
But those aren’t the issues that ought to describe the heart and soul of America, and neither should the prospect of a single person sitting in the White House define what the country is. America belongs to its people.
What is concerning, then, is that an alarming number of those people are turning their backs on time-honored principles — the peaceful transition of power and trust in enduring institutions.
About 18% of voters believe it would be appropriate for Donald Trump to refuse to leave office if he claims he lost because of widespread voter fraud. One in 10 would see a “great deal” of justification for violence if their candidate loses, according to a survey from Democracy Fund Voter Study Group.
Those are small percentages, to be sure, but they’re distressing nonetheless. That factions of the country believe winning or losing on election night is so important it merits physical harm to others is wrong, and no one should tolerate the hint of violence because of a political let down.
Analysts predict foreign actors — and any who delight in throwing the United States into chaos — will vigorously sow doubt in the election results. Don’t take the bait. Fact-check your sources, think before you share on social media and trust that the country’s judicial system can handle any necessary adjudication.
Experts believe this may be the most secure election in history, COVID-19 notwithstanding. So in the waning hours before Election Day, it’s incumbent on voters to cast their ballots and refrain from tripping into false narratives. The country will endure, thanks to its people.