Over 70 million Americans have spent the week holding their breath. We remember how confident we were four years ago. How we arrogantly assumed that the rest of the country saw Donald Trump for what he was: a hateful, racist, incompetent, misogynistic narcissist who would run the country into the ground.
I watched the numbers roll in on CNN and compared it with the New York Times website. And by 7 PM PST, it was clear that Clinton did not have the votes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. It was shocking, but true. Numbers don’t lie. The trend was obvious.
My Chinese-American mother-in-law was visiting. She didn’t understand why I was upset. “It will be fine,” she said.
“It will not be fine,” I told her. “With the Senate also Republican, there will be no checks on that man.” I fled to my bedroom.
The cat followed me. Normally, Boss Cat wasn’t allowed in our bedroom at night, because she heaved stuff off the bedside tables if she felt peckish (usually at 4 AM). She slept in Baby D’s room instead. Boss Cat continued sleeping in that room when my mother-in-law took it over during her visit. Sunny complained. We removed Boss Cat and reminded Sunny to keep the door shut. Yet every morning the door was open and Boss Cat was sleeping on the bed with her.
On the utterly awful Election Night of 2016, I told Andy the cat could sleep with us. “Then your mom won’t complain. My sleep is wrecked anyway, and her warm purring is a comfort.” (Boss Cat purrs the same way she does everything else—aggressively).
Andy turned out the light. 10 minutes later, someone tapped tentatively on our door.
Sunny’s voice called, “Is the cat with you?”
Andy called back, “Yes, Ma. Don’t worry, she won’t bother you.”
Sunny opened our door and announced, “I have gotten used to the cat. She keeps me warm and your house is so cold.” (Our house was 70 degrees.)
I surrendered the cat. Andy carried her to his mother’s room. Sunny commenced cooing, “Hel-lo, Boss Cat!” as Andy returned and shut the door.
“Ma really likes the cat. Who knew,” Andy chuckled. “That was nice of you, honey.”
“Might as well be all the way miserable,” I told him. I tossed and turned all night, thinking of how our country was going to be destroyed and looted.
For four years, I watched the Trump Administration reach—and sometimes exceed—my worst expectations. The Muslim and refugee ban. Trying to bring back coal and leaving the Paris Climate Agreement. Children ripped from their parents and put in cages. Supporting white supremacists in Charlottesville. Filling the courts with incompetent Federalists. Starting a trade war with China that only hurt American farmers and bailing them out with taxpayer dollars. Cutting taxes for the rich and corporations. Alienating our allies and cozying up to dictators. Vilifying the free press while spreading outright lies.
The only good thing was his administration’s utter incompetence, which limited the damage.
Until COVID-19 hit.
The states did the best they could, but, handicapped by the lack of a national strategy, the United States lost a quarter-of-a-million citizens. Compare our government’s response to that to Taiwan, New Zealand, and South Korea and weep.
It did not have to be this way. A competent administration could have used the National Defense Production Act to manufacture PPE and ramp up testing. Or enforced a national mask mandate and lockdown. Or put money in the bank accounts of its citizens, instead of the pockets of wealthy and Trump cronies.
And yet, on Election Night 2020, it became clear that even more Americans voted for Trump than in 2016. Would science, sanity, and decency prevail?!
As the numbers rolled in, the trends became clear. Democrats voted early and by mail. In states where the mail-in ballots were counted early, Biden was already ahead, especially in populous counties with more total votes.
I had multiple friends call or text, sure that Trump was going to win again. I did my best John King impression, pointing out the numbers. “We’re going to win,” I told them confidently. “Wait and see.”
I put Boss Cat in Baby D’s room and slept better than I had in four fucking years.
I woke up the next morning to find Wisconsin, Nevada, and Arizona were blue. “We just need Michigan!” I reported to Andy, before singing, “On Wisconsin/ On Wisconsin/ Plunge right through that line!”
Michigan went blue at 6 AM PST. I shrieked, both out loud and virtually along with all of Sane & Decent Twitter. And still I got calls and texts from people who did not dare believe. “It’s done,” I told them. “Game over. While all the votes need to be counted, the majority of the rest will go for Biden. Don’t even worry about Pennsylvania. Trump has no path.”
Four days later, the media agreed.
And there was great rejoicing.