Rogers: Election Day, a horror show | AspenTimes.com
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Rogers: Election Day, a horror show

Aspen Times editor Don Rogers
Courtesy photo

However the midterms go, the passage of Election Day will bring relief.

Democracy surely will toddle on even as half the country panics and threatens to move to Canada, New Zealand or Hungary maybe, the way some wax on.

At least there will be a pause in the nasty ads TV viewers and social media followers keep complaining about. I miss all that, skipping these dopamine and cortisol dispensers, yet manage to keep up with most of what we should from the news through more primitive means. Text, pages, online as well as in hand.



Perhaps that explains why I also skip most of the fear and divisiveness I keep reading about. I mean, I enjoy talking with Republicans and Democrats just fine. We don’t have to buy each other’s ideas. We don’t have to loathe the other for having them, either.

Almost no one in their heart wants to end America anyway. There’s usually some room at the heart to work if we put our minds to it. Yes, I know, that’s not the fashion of the moment.   




But then also, when were we ever not wringing our hands about America gone off track? Eisenhower maybe? I wasn’t alive then to know.

I think elections and politics generally fit the horror genre. We wail, we thrill, we have something to talk about, I guess. Point being, every election cycle is the worst ever. Well, so long as you’re not a history buff. But really, worse than pre-Civil War? Worse than true Jim Crow? Vietnam? Worse than when it was illegal for women to vote?

When was this golden era when this stuff wasn’t the “worst ever”? When the country was founded, and the only voters could be landowning, male and pale?

SO WHY DID LIFE IMPROVE?

Somehow, our world managed not to end with the elections of Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter et al. Nor Trump nor Biden, pick your bogeyman.

It kind of has gone the other way, actually. On balance, we’ve grown wealthier, healthier, cleaner, fairer, safer, better educated while we wail how we’ve never had it worse each election cycle.

Our quality of life has grown even as the stakes for our relative largesse rise and rise. We brag about “carbon-neutral” airports — airports! — as if buying some credits, planting some trees and cutting high-grade jet fuel with something plant-based did anything real.

I like the tickling of conscience, though. Like maybe some dim awareness of CO2 pollution and the long-term consequences may spur more of us to act beyond posing.

I thought about all that recently in a Snowmass lodge that makes a deal of sustainability in the way of furiously pounding one’s own back about it at 8,500 feet, furnaces blasting. Sure, I’m happy saving the planet by letting the beds go unmade another day, having a recycling bin in the room, and don’t mind that the lights go off when I pull my card key from a room slot, though I’m pretty good about turning off the lights myself.

This while wrestling with the extra thick plastic wrapping around a fancy Keurig pod to put in a mostly plastic coffeemaker, other grievous examples of fossil fuel pollution.

But these places require a certain stamp of distinctiveness, too, I guess. And isn’t this emblematic of the real world we live in? We’re not going without coffee. Sorry.   

I know, a real climate warrior would have skipped this brew, saving the planet from the ramifications of one less package tugged apart and quaffed. I drank my cup with too little regret and indulged instead in refreshed amazement at the steep rise in campaign funding. Now that is a most ever, a worst ever.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

There was a time when actual voter fraud ruled the metropolises, just as Jim Crow dominated the rural South, through Tammany Hall in New York City and the like in the other big cities, whether with improper influence or plain ol’ ballot stuffing and truly suspicious counting overseen by party bosses. 

An irony is that the cleanest election ever, with the best safeguards, procedures and ability to recount, well, that’s the one most doubted — at least by rank partisans who couldn’t abide the results.

But I don’t for a second believe that 70% of earnest Republicans distrust the counts. I’m more cynical than that. This is more about willingness to press a political advantage and to be in with the greater tribe. We’re humans, we have to belong. Screw logic. Now that makes more sense.

As always, the Republican areas will tend to elect Republicans, and Democratic areas will elect Democrats, counted by the same careful counters in professionalized election offices. Close elections get recounted, and often enough recounted again with amazing accuracy. Arizona’s ninjas for Trump found even more votes for Biden, though no bamboo. That was kind of funny.

The bigger payoffs for professional partisans lie in gerrymandering and current majorities in state legislatures passing voting laws to favor them and discourage voters from the other party. We’ll start to see the effectiveness of the latter this Election Day. Both are timeless arts practiced by Machiavellian Democrats as much as Republicans. There’s no cause to dab sainthood on one or the other. They’re equally ruthless.

But watch. Our horror show will play out again Tuesday, and then … relief. All the drama will fade in days, the happy ending for the victorious, the dark thoughts of bag packing for the vanquished.

Mainly, though, we’ll pretty much forget, at least for awhile. But of course you know there will be the sequel, surely the worst yet.

Aspen Times Editor Don Rogers can be reached at drogers@aspentimes.com