Silver Wordsmith: An author's journey
The weeks, and especially the final days, leading up to last Tuesday felt like the crushing anxiety experienced towards the start of the pandemic – what was happening to the world, and how were we going to get out of it. Opening Twitter and the news in general became downright unpleasant, the same crush of negativity I had identified years earlier and now was willingly succumbing to, like pressing “refresh” on the whole world. A single country was likely deciding the direction of an unwilling world – not a definitive path to the destination, but rather how close that path was veering towards the precipice of darkness.
My first mistake of the night was tuning into our local national channel, the CBC, instead of figuring out how to get access to CNN and all the juicy second-by-second analysis and glorious maps that I would hear later about. Instead, I had to make my own pundit room, which was basically just hitting refresh on the Associated Press results page. The first thing I focused on was Florida, which lit up light red with a relatively small margin, and I reminded myself that things were still early.
I was right, the pink margin shrank, and the state turned light blue. Florida was a good indicator, Florida meant that everything was going to be all right. Not sure how long that listed, seemed like a couple of heartbeats before that margin shrank, Florida descended into pink and then was called in favour of Trump with a comfortable margin.
Then came the other disappointments – the hope for a landslide had quickly fizzled, but then the Rust Belt results came in and there was no longer any breath left in us. Sure, there were the mail-in ballots – we knew there were a lot and we knew they’d heavily skew Blue. But we were also told Hillary was all but assured a win and that evening four years ago ended in crushing defeat and dwindling hope for the future.
Cynics would likely ask what do I care, that’s not my President. Well, who do you think I want running the world’s largest economy? The guy who wants to revive the coal industry or the guy who had the audacity to say, on a campaign trail, that we must prepare to phase out oil and gas? It may not be my president, but he’s still presiding over the future of my kids and my grandchildren.
So seeing Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin all show up red, even though they were not yet called, seemed to give very little permission to breathe. My wife and I, who’re normally so chatty in the evenings that we have to pause our TV every ten minutes or so, probably spoke a handful of sentences during the whole night.
Our CBC pundits, instead of finding rays of hope and providing hard-hitting analysis of mail-in votes and paths to the White House, seemed as hopelessly lost as we were.
And then, the mail-in counting started. It made no splash for our CBC commentators, but I watched the margin of Trump’s lead in Michigan change from 11, to 9.2, to 8.9. I didn’t want to think about what it could mean and reluctantly went to sleep, finding Wisconsin and Michigan switched blue in the morning and the elephant finally lifted off my chest and waddling towards the exit.
This last week seemed to all but solidify the true result, and I hope it stays after the country goes through all the motions it needs to ensure a fair process that arrived at an accurate result.
It was an odd sensation being on this rollercoaster ride with so many millions around the world.
Granted, both short-term and long-term, the journey isn’t over. The power hasn’t been transitioned, coronavirus still runs rampart in both our countries, climate change is still a crisis, and millions of voters who thought Trump was the best man for the job hadn’t miraculously changed their mind over night. The political, social and economic realities that created this mess are still simmering and ready to boil over, and the stewards of this unrest aren’t quietly going away either.
After a couple of days of confusion, it seems the staunch supporters of the darkest night are rallying their forces and positioning their pieces to make the next steps as difficult as possible.
Someone on Twitter had described this feeling perfectly – the monster in the horror movie had been defeated, but there’s still twenty minutes left. What we do with these twenty minutes, both America as a country, and the world as a whole being influenced by the ripples of the behemoth that is the States – need to firm up the direction they’re going to take.
The battle may not be over, but the election did something that had been sorely missing – provided a ray of hope, and as long as we don’t allow ourselves to become complicit, we can build that hope into something concrete.
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Michael is a husband, father of two, lawyer, writer, and is currently working on his first novel, at a snail's pace. A very leisurely snail. All opinions are author's own.