Fall Leaves—Leaves Fall

Fall Leaves—Leaves Fall

As the country rages around us, in both a political and metrological sense, the outlook from here is fine. Fall colors along with fair weather will give us yet another glorious week of Indian summer. We are past Halloween now and are on the eve of a even more truly scary (sort of, kind of) holiday, Election Day. A lot of hopes and fears ride on tomorrow and likely for days afterward. By all accounts a time of uncertainty and chaos await us in the days to come.

For Election Day, the Whitehouse is building an even bigger wall around itself. Stores are boarding up their windows. The FBI is on high alert. Even Facebook is deploying its internal tools that are normally reserved for “at-risk” countries, the likes of Sri Lanka and Myanmar. People are expecting trouble and why shouldn’t they? Passions are riding high. If tempers flare, egged on by inciteful rhetoric, all that will be needed next is a spark and a conflagration will erupt.

I am reminded of Michael Brown. Killed by a Ferguson policeman, his death sparked a summer of protests here that spread across the country. It was this month of the year that the grand jury announced their decision on whether to charge Darren Wilson for the murder of Brown. I am reminded that on that eve too, stores barred their windows and the authorities were on high alert. The whole town hunkered down and held its collective breath. Trouble was expected and after the grand jury failed to indict, quickly erupted.

If an indictment had been issued, trouble probably would have been averted that night and the county prosecutor would have likely saved his seat, which he lost in the next election. I doubt in the end though that justice would have been well served. This election offers no such convenient offramp to avoid immediate violence. Neither side is willing to accept defeat. Both sides believe that the only way that they could possibly lose this election is if it is stolen from them.

What we need is for everyone to take a breath and take a step back. It is unlikely that any decision will be reached on election night. This could be a close election and if past close elections are any indicator that fact alone will delay any final outcome. More importantly, because of the plague more Americans have voted absentee than in any other election. Those votes must be counted too. An expected heavy Election Day turnout means that those ballots will have to wait to be counted. In person tallies could show one candidate leading, only to see that lead disappear after all of the votes are counted. This is not stealing the election. Stealing the election would involve not counting every vote.

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