I slept until 6:00am, later than I thought I would. Trump carried Florida and Ohio easily, and a scroll down the list of the battleground states read Trump Trump Trump, some by sizeable margins. Robert Reich tweeted to stay calm and “drink water.”
Rough math on my phone calculator as CNN went county-by-county through Pennsylvania indicated to me that Biden could close the gap there. Trump misspelled “polls” as “Poles” in a tweet. Lot of jokes along the lines of “Poland has enough problems” on Twitter. Rick Santorum appeared on CNN talking about signatures on mail-in ballots in PA. I could see where this was headed.
The doorbell rang and it was the pest control guy who comes to our building every few months to pour pesticide from an enormous jug down the kitchen drain. L and I call him “Monsieur Cafard” (“Mister Cockroach”), which we find very funny for some reason. He is polite and friendly, and before he left he told me not to use the kitchen sink for the next 2 hours.
Trump was still up by 700K votes in PA, with 69% of the vote counted. All the horror of 2016 with all the slow-drip torture of 2000.
Trump’s lead in Georgia dropped to around 100K votes. He stepped to the podium in a room packed with people who were not wearing masks. Standing before a phalanx of American flags, he riffed about all the states he’d won and the victory party he’d been planning, then pivoted to the “sad group of people” who are evidently “stealing the election.” “This is a major fraud on our nation. We want all voting to stop. We will be going to the Supreme Court.” Mike Pence concluded, kind of sheepishly, “We will make America great again again.”
I got back in bed for a while. My (German) wife asked me how it was possible to declare a winner when the votes haven’t been counted.
I had a Zoom call with our General Manager in Italy. We talked about business and COVID-19. He didn’t bring up the election, and I didn’t either, and it was reassuring to know that there were people in the world with other things on their minds.
By 11:00am, Biden led Wisconsin by around 10,000 votes.
My employer’s stock price rose 3.6%.
Then, an online service for the Church of Scotland Geneva, for which I play Zoom technical director. The scripture lesson was from Matthew 18, the parable of the unmerciful servant. The king forgives a big debt from one of his servants, who then turns around and roughs up a few of his fellow servants who owe him money. The king catches wind of this and has the servant hauled off to prison to be tortured until he pays up. The metaphor being that God is the king and we are the servant, and we should “pay forward” God’s mercy and forgiveness to others, even (especially) those who are indebted to us. Or else.
Trump’s lead in Michigan closed to fewer than 30,000 votes. There remained around 200,000 uncounted votes in Wayne County, where Biden was leading by 36 points.
As I did work Zooms, primary blue and red polygons flashed on CNN on the other laptop.
My home state of New Jersey voted for legalizing recreational marijuana use.
By mid-afternoon, Biden was leading in Michigan by ~8,000 votes. Tweet of the day: “No matter what happens today, the United States of America is the country that made Donald Trump its President, and it always will be.” (@Vinncent)
I headed to my doctor to get the flu vaccine with a spring in my step.
Upon my return, I put a bottle of champagne in the refrigerator, in the hopes of opening it at around 11:00pm during my Zoom call with my college friends, thereby guaranteeing that the race would not be called.
My employer’s stock price finished trading up 6.21% for the day.
The Election Commissioner for Wisconsin, a woman named Meagan who looks around 28, with straight blond shoulder-length hair and a northern midwestern twang, explained on CNN how they officially tally votes. Election officials from several states appeared on television to do the same, and I found it inspiring and comforting.
Watching American TV was a novel activity for me, and generally I think the cable news stations on both sides of the spectrum are toxic and harmful on many levels, but I couldn’t resist watching. After following John King for several hours, I felt pretty confident that I could operate the interface on the “Road to 270” screen. CNN announced that Biden would speak “soon,” and I spent the next hour or so mentally drafting the speech I wanted him to give: celebrating the voting process, calmly calling for the remaining votes to be counted, projecting confidence in the outcome—but not claiming victory. At around 10:00, Biden walked onto a stage in Delaware and gave more or less that speech, and I was buoyed by the probably illusory feeling that civility might still be possible in my home country.
I Zoomed with several of my friends from college who are in DC, Boston, California, NYC, Zurich, Tokyo. I left the champagne in the fridge and cracked open a beer instead.
UPDATE, 7 November 2020 10:23pm