Well, election day in the US has finally arrived but of course, with the time difference of five hours between GMT and EST, the polls do not actually open until 7am at the earliest which is 12.0pm GMT. The news overnight is that some 100 million (actually 99.7 million) of US voters have actually already voted either by mail or by dropping off their voting papers in a ‘ballot box’ (which seem to have grown in popularity this election as a result of the COVID-19 crisis). There are already legal fights going on – first thing this morning, the Supreme Court in Pennsylvania was asked to overturn a ruling that any vote posted in time (according to the post mark) was a legal vote. The Republicans (naturally) suspecting that many of these mailed in votes would be Democrat was asking the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to declare these votes invalid – they failed in their attempt. I did see a clip on the MSNBC channel that the Attorney General of Pennsylvania was recorded as saying that the election authorities would stamp down hard on any illegitimate poll-observers engaging in voter intimidation (i.e. the Republicans giving the nod to some of their burley and well-armed quasi-militia to march up and down near the election venues to ensure ‘fair play’) He also announced that the election authorities would count every single ballot even if takes some days, thereby trying to forestall Donald Trump counting up the (predominantly) Republican votes that had been cast in person on Election Day itself and claiming that the election had been ‘won’ and trying to cast some doubt on the validity of all of the uncounted (and predominantly Democrat) votes. To UK eyes and the British sense of ‘fair play’ all of this seems absolutely extraordinary but ‘Hey! This is America! Land of the Free!‘ (i.e. free to intimidate, subvert and otherwise trick your way into an election victory.)
It was a most beautiful day today for Meg and I to walk down into town. We di not see any of our usual friends for a chat but we enjoyed a fine day where we could actually, at times, feel the heat of the sun on our faces. This was not too last – we ran into a little shower on the way home but it was more a really light drizzle rather than a full-scale rainstorm. We knew that we wanted to get home in reasonable time because as it was my Pilates Day (the last for until the end of the lock-down) I wanted to get most of the mid-day meal prepared so that it took just a quick microwaving when I returned just before 3.00pm. We had rather a doleful Pilates experience as we knew that whilst we could participate in some ‘Zoom’ classes organised by our teacher, we would not be meeting again as a group until the end of the lockdown – and we all suspected that the lockdown would ‘de facto’ last longer than the supposed four weeks. I suspect it will be extended by another two weeks and then we will run into a Christmas holiday period so we may not be ‘unlocked’ until January.
However, I did receive some good news in the late morning. I had a couple of telephone calls from the garage from which we hoped to collect our new car later on this week. Our salesman had some good news for us. The leasing company, perhaps armed with some more up-to-date advice from a government agency), had given us permission to pick up our new car next Friday, provided that all of the handover transactions take place outside the showrooms i.e. in the open air. I am sure we shall manage this OK – in the meantime, we are delighted that our original plans have not completely fallen foul of the new LockDown Mark II regulations.
I decided to have quick look at what Huff post (Huffington Post) were saying throughout the voting today. I was think it is fair to say that most of the commentary was apoplectic at the avowed intention of Donald Trump to ‘steal’ the election by force or by fraud. One comment that I read was illuminating:“He’s been laying the groundwork for this for months,” said Daniel Goldman, a former federal prosecutor and the lead lawyer for House Democrats during Trump’s impeachment over his extortion of Ukraine to help his reelection bid. “Mind-blowingly fascist.” I have noticed that many very serious minded and not particularly partisan commentators (not all of them Democrat by any means) have been observing that the whole of american democracy is on trial tonight and not just the election of a president. I think the feeling is that if you win an election by voter suppression, discounting or not even counting some valid votes, using militia to engage in voter intimidation, challenging at every point with an army of lawyers all the way through the various state legislatures, appeal courts and eventually Supreme Courts (even as far as the United States Supreme Court itself, packed with die-hard republican judges) then the whole American democratic ideal has been subverted.
I do not expect that I shall see anything like a definitive result tonight. But I hope at least that the tide of opinion is such that once we have Florida out of the way and some of the other faster-counting states that there might be an indication by about 3.00am which way the wind is blowing and I can crawl into my bed and get some well-earned sleep!