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(A) Politics / Government

2020 US Presidential Election time…the darkest election in our lifetimes

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How large does the Harris Vice Presidency actually loom on deciding who will be the next President in the country? This piece doesn’t directly explore the Harris effect…but it is something to consider, especially given some people’s visceral reactions to this election, and the continued nativist appeals made by ardent Trump supporters, and especially Trump himself.

For the life of me, I still don’t get how people near and dear to me in my life, can support one of the most divisive figures in our lifetime in Donald J. Trump(1).  The level of cynicism people I love actually have, the amount of anger and angst they have towards humanity…it’s heart-breaking. I don’t speak of all the Trumpers out there, or people who are ultimately perfect strangers to me. I’m speaking of people who I have broken bread with on multiple occasions. People who I have worked in close proximity with. It’s interesting, because – some people who I know are sympathetic to Trump, will say something like “well, I’m not voting on personality, but rather policies”. Unfortunately, in American politics, it’s very difficult to separate the two. 

Maybe if America had a parliamentary system where we had the figure-head who was the personality, and then the bean-counter, who did all the real legislative work, then maybe we could get away with making a claim like that. But in American politics the “figure-head” & the “bean-counter” is one and the same, and that’s the President of the United States.  Parliamentary system v. Presidential system(2).

The truth of the matter is, even the whole policy v. personality(3a) debate isn’t as simple as people would like to think. 2020 provides a year in more obvious contrast between two candidates and the conflicting views voters have with respect to policy v. personality differences, but if you go back to the 200 election, it wasn’t always as clear(3b).  Although, twenty years ago was a completely different era. 

It’s almost unfair to compare the 2000 election to this one.   Republican pollster Frank Luntz(3c) sums up the sentiment of the undecided voter sympathetic to Trump’s policies, in a nut-shell. “They’re judging on two completely different attributes and they can’t decide which is more important to them,” he said. “They don’t like Trump as a person, but they don’t feel badly about his administration or his policies. They really like Joe Biden as a person, but they are so nervous about what he’s going to do if he were elected. And they can’t figure out which is more important to them”. 

Yet, some very compelling studies find 2016 offers more subtle, yet disturbing reasons as to why we vote for who we vote for. If you google “Obama-Trump” voters, or  “Trump voters fear a black and brown America”, you see white people that were excited to vote for Obama in 2008 & even 2012 to a lesser extent, but now are fearful of becoming a minority demographic in America at large(4). 

I also get how truly and utterly f*d up we all have gotten by this society and culture(5).  Nobody is left unscathed. And I mean nobody. Everybody has been denigrated in some way(6).

The people who should be seeking healing and wisdom from, are often among our worst actors in the political arena. A Bob Dole type figure(7) is relegated to a different era, considered too old to know what he had for breakfast . The Clintons have been banished(8) to Siberia, of sorts. Go further back and look at Jimmy Carter. Nobody has taken Carter seriously even when he was in office(9). I know that’s a harsh assessment, but it’s sadly considered by and large to be true. 

Picture of our living former Presidents, from left to right Carter #39, Clinton #42, Obama #44, W. Bush #43

 People and figures we do have a tendency to look up to, have been painted by the all too harsh partisan brush. George W. Bush was often painted with such a negative brush (sometimes justifiably so), but then Bush picked up his own brush(10) and it’s as if his whole Presidency had a makeover, especially when measured up against Trump’s.  Could President Obama have done more to help prevent the partisan divide?(11)  Maybe…but a tidal wave is a tidal wave is a tidal wave. Maybe, he could have prepared the American people to have more rain gear…but I’m not too sure. 

Either way, once this election is finally behind us, honestly – there will be no winners. We will be a country of losers, battered and badly beaten down by our own rot and discontent. To think that we can just put the last four to five years behind us is plainly not recognizing(12) that the stress of things doesn’t just disappear but can in fact last for generations. If you need clarity on this, ask any African American who is educated on the history of his or her people(13), and how and why their people were originally brought to America, and what happened in the ensuing years, decades and centuries since.  I say this, not as a partisan or a liberal or even a person who dislikes people who are ultimately going to vote for Trump. I say this because I find this election to be one of the most depressing events that are about to come up in the history of this country.  Historians have to go back to the 1850s to recall a darker time for this country(14).

The American Civil War  “The Union vs. the Confederacy” Came on the heels of America’s darkest decade in history. April 12, 1861 – May 13, 1865. America’s bloodiest war with more soldiers lost in battle (618,222) than any other war prior to or since.

These next four to eight years will be so crucial for America, and the world. I just pray that, regardless of the result, that we can peacefully move on to a new term in office starting January 20, 2021, and that whoever the President is – he will be able to rise to the challenge and be able to heal all Americans from the pain and suffering so many of us have had to endure over these past number of years and months in particular. 


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PS –  Let us not forget how the Trump Presidency started(15). It has been 3 years and 9 months or so, and nothing about Donald Trump’s leadership has been stable, even-handed or comforting to the majority of Americans. We all deserve better! Even those who still support Trump,  you too, deserve better.



1-https://robertreich.org/post/184704874210 .

2- https://borgenproject.org/parliamentary-system-versus-presidential-system/ 

3a- https://economicpolicythoughts.com/2020/04/19/modern-politics-personality-vs-policy/ 





6- https://joshoffthepress.com/2017/10/12/crying-for-america/ .

7-https://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2013/05/28/186929221/why-bob-doles-advice-to-his-party-fell-flat .


9- https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/jimmy-carter-why-he-failed/ 




13- https://www.antislavery.org/400-years-slaves-america/

14 – https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/10/biden-2020-trump-election/616912/ 


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Joshua P. Jacobs


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