History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.
– Seamus Heaney
It’s November 3rd 2020 and the stakes for the next 10 days (or so) could not be higher. Trump has already declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power should the election not go his way. Shops across the capital are closed and the barricades are up around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It cannot be overstated that this election will be a defining moment for America’s future. It will shape the world which we will go on to inherit.
Yet, Trump should never be underestimated. 2016 taught the world that politics is changing. You don’t have to be a career politician to gain office. You need a clear message – and that message does not necessarily need any founding in the truth. “Take Back Control” in the Brexit referendum was followed by the equally ambiguous “Make America Great Again” in the US election. What were we taking back ‘control’ from? What did it mean to make America ‘great’ again? Trump outlined his plans for America in his first presidential campaign. Whether or not those ever came into fruition, or whether they are what people needed, is for the 2020 electorate to decide.
Over the past 11 months, The Guardian has kept a national poll tracker. Each day, the Guardian’s national poll tracker takes a 14-day average of national voting intention polls. As things stand (1/11/1997), Joe Biden’s chances of winning the election and becoming the 46th POTUS are 51.6%. Trump’s chances stand at 43%. In 2016, according to the BBC‘s polling averages, Clinton had a 48% chance of winning, compared to Trump’s 44%. On the one hand, this would mean that for Trump to beat Biden, the polls would have to be even more inaccurate than 4 years prior. But on the other, 2016 should have taught us that the polls are not everything. We can take some hope from the fact that Trump isn’t polling ahead of Biden – but we should exercise caution. Let’s not make the mistake of getting carried away again.
But like Heaney said, when the “longed-for tidal wave of justice rises up, hope and history rhyme”. For those of us who’d rather change and hope, over fear and division, we need to holdfast onto those basic human principles that have encouraged progress over the history of time. Your vote is your voice. Get out there and decide on the world’s politics for the next 4 years.
Biden needs you. And so do we over here in Blighty. President Obama remarked in Miami that Trump ‘lies every single day … the fact-checkers can’t keep up, it’s like, just over and over again’. Well those lies affect hundreds of millions of people across the globe everyday. They begin to give voice to the sort of division we hear about from our Grandparents and the 1930s. Such division is too often dismissed as a story or part of a history that’s no longer relevant to our daily existence. I fear that 4 more years of Trump will create a whole new load of stories which will draw far too many parallels to those of past generations. Democracy is at stake.
So what can we do? Let’s make today the day when we took a stance for progress and hope. Let’s save western democracy and restore to the world the basic virtues of decency and truth. Let’s press on.
President Obama can say it better than I ever could:
“The president wants to get credit for the economy he inherited and zero blame for the pandemic he ignored,”
On the presidency: “kindness, humility, responsibility, helping somebody else out” used to be “the definition of manliness, not strutting and showing off. Acting important and bullying people,” Obama said. “It used to be being a man meant taking care of other people. Not going around bragging.”
“And with Joe and Kamala at the helm, you’re not going to have to think about the crazy things they said every day. And that’s worth a lot. You’re not going to have to argue about them every day. It just won’t be so exhausting.”
To all those Americans who’s backs are against the wall today. To those who live in fear and darkness. To those who are quite honestly exhausted with it all. We will support you. Better days lie ahead. I truly hope that the voice of progress comes out on top and progressive values take hold and change everything for the better. Let’s get this.
“I’ve been mad. I’ve been frustrated. But I haven’t lost hope.”
– Barack Obama