Can We Save November?

politics-bierceIt is only September, and it may be a bit early for such a concern, but November, which generally is a fine month, promises to be terrible in 2020. As our traditional month of national Thanksgiving, November has terrific things going for it. And the colors in North Georgia are magnificent.

Personal reasons make November delightful for me, and foremost is a wedding anniversary. We are disappointed that we likely will not celebrate at the location we hoped, and it may not be as golden as we anticipated. At the same time, we continue being grateful for making it this far together.

Another good thing about November is birthdays—mine and my oldest child’s. Each birthday is special, but after a certain age, the likelihood of making it to the next one diminishes. My chances have been decreasing for many years, making each one more special. I hate the idea of something spoiling the upcoming celebrations.

And there are too many spoilers lurking.

Those are selfish thoughts, but as my face-to-face contact with other people has diminished, that kind of thinking creeps into my mind. But less contact also increases my thinking about the importance of friends and neighbors, particularly those who do not have a loved one living with them—someone to talk with or give comfort during this unusual period.

Optimistic is my preferred term, but more than one friend has called me Pollyanna. Simply put, in my mind, most people are good people and will cooperate with and help others unless they believe helping others will, in some way, cause harm to themselves. And the possibility of harm is increasing.

The pandemic is amplifying my concerns about a terrible November. Don’t tell me how well we may be doing compared to other nations. What good does it do to compare how America deals with the virus when so many, many people are dying? The death toll exceeded “too many” months ago.

And we continue to politicize it—shame on us.

And politicization is my other big fear about November. The pandemic and the complications it will bring to voting and vote-counting mechanics make November 2020 potentially more indecisive, and therefore scarier than any other in America’s recent history. Politically driven divisiveness stoked by both parties reduces the likelihood of conclusive election night, week, or month, or worse.

Indecisiveness is not a traditional American characteristic. How we grew so divided that we cannot move forward is a good question, but it has no value unless we use the answers to solve it. And we are not going to solve it if the people we elect continue focusing on reelection. And they will continue doing that as long as we, the people, continue to let them tell us that people who look or think differently from us are our enemies.

September 2020