So here we are again. It’s the morning of Nov. 6, 2018, as The Observer writes this, a cup of coffee going cold on the edge of the desk, Election Day just a flush of light at the edge of the world. The Observer, in our long years of doing this job, has had a few moments like this, those times where you, Dear Reader, know something we don’t. Where we are, we’re resisting the urge to pour some bourbon in this coffee and eat all the leftover Halloween candy in the house. Where you are, meanwhile, Election 2018 is done and hopefully settled, a few hanging chads and runoffs notwithstanding. Though we want to fill this page with pleas for you to vote, to take a friend, to grab your grizzled granny and Dutch uncle and mailman and take ’em with you, that deadline is already blown and the die is cast. Where you are, this country has already rendered a verdict on this man and the political party that has celebrated his lawlessness and division for two long years, selling America’s principles, moral authority and respect in the world for owning the libs, a rich man’s tax cut, Neil Gorsuch and Justice Rapey McBeers.
The past two years have been both so much better and so much worse than we imagined, the best and worst of this country on full and daily display. As Spouse has said a time or three, it is good that the man in the Oval Office is willfully ignorant and wholly self-centered, for we would be well and truly screwed if he was brilliant and ruthless instead of grabby and addled, unable to string together a coherent sentence much less the true authoritarian government of his neo-Nazi fanboys’ squalid dreams. Lucky us. Even so, it has been — and we think a lot of you will back us up here — a nightmare from which we cannot awake, seeing our great nation stripped and ravaged before our eyes like a chop-shopped Camaro. How many such outrages would have brought down any other president? How many hopes dashed? We forget. The past two years are a blur of shameless depravity.
On the other hand, though, there are the activists and the marchers. There was Sen. John McCain flashing that thumbs down, a hero’s last heroism before the grave. There has been Robert Mueller, carefully constructing prison walls brick by brick. There has been the Resistance that rose up to fight the dragon, even as white supremacists marched and mowed down peaceful protestors in Charlottesville, even as law enforcement sworn to uphold the Constitution stuffed little brown kids in cages, even as the despair was like a soggy blanket that covered everyone in America except his cruel and jubilant cult. To those who made signs and marched and gave money and raged against the dying of the light for the past two years: We are proud of you, no matter how it all turns out today. Let them call you a mob if they like. I’m sure George III saw the pissed off colonists that way as well.
So here The Observer sits, once more, on the precipice of an Election Day. Two years ago, we wrote: “Even if the vision visited upon us by The Ghost of Election Day Future doesn’t come to pass, we worry strange creatures have been loosed from chaos to stalk the land. … But we’ll worry about that later. Right now, we’re thinking about Wednesday. Good luck, America. We’ll see who you are tomorrow.” And so we have seen who America is over the past 24 months of tomorrows: splendor and awfulness, patriotism and treachery, greed and generosity, fear and love. What’s that about “May you live in interesting times” being the most dire imaginable curse? We get that now.
The Observer doesn’t really do hope for this country anymore, not after all that has happened. We thought hope had been burned out of us. Since Election Day 2016, we have been in survival mode, gone to ground, our dreams of a brighter America where Junior will live and raise his family wrapped in a blanket and buried under the toolshed for safekeeping. But, as we write this, we can’t help but feel the warm glow of hope in our heart, the idea that today might bring a ray of dawn after two years of gloom, on to full daybreak two years hence and a U-Haul in front of the White House. But we can’t let that hope take root. Not now. Not when Tomorrow is still a day away. Stuck here in the past, all we can do is tamp down that weak ember and say: Good luck today, America. We still love you. Give us reason to hope again, if you can.