A Time to Reflect, and Look Forward

Hi. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to the day in national politics. I’m Lisa Lerer, your host.

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We have spent a lot of time writing, thinking and talking about politics in this newsletter over the past 26 months. (A lot of time: This is our 995th edition since starting this little project on Sept. 10, 2018!)

No one could have predicted how this election would go: a deadly pandemic. National protests over police brutality. An economic nosedive. A hard-fought, contentious campaign. (OK, we definitely predicted that last one.)

With the election finally over, I thought it might be nice to share the stage. We asked how you were feeling after the tumultuous political season. And did you ever answer!

We got so many thought-provoking responses about the future of our country and its politics that I couldn’t resist sharing some.

For Joe Massaua, a high school senior in Villanova, Pa., the election made him feel excited about what the future could bring …

We have pressing problems to solve now: Covid-19, a recession, racial justice and climate change. America is on a path to be more unified than before; we need to see it through, with actions from our local leaders and those on the national stage. We are one diverse American community. I sincerely hope those on both sides will put politics aside to work for the good of the American people.

… but Drew Currie, writing from Colorado, says there may be no way to patch up the country’s differences.

It’s time to find a way to split officially into two nations. Let’s avoid civil war. Let’s use words to find our way through a peaceful division.

Kate Landry of Hickory, N.C., worries about President Trump’s lasting impact …

It seems like Trump has ripped the Band-Aid off a festering wound of racism, ignorance and all-around anger and hatefulness. I’m sad and discouraged.

… while Martin Sherlock of Naples, Fla., blames the news media.

I have listened to the media bad-mouth and call the president all kinds of names for well over four years. I am waiting to see how you bad-mouth the next president! The media does not have any conservative reporter or staff, which I consider a big problem of division. Mr. Trump is positively correct when he says that it is all fake news.

Lee Cross of Fort Smith, Ark., just wants to get back to not thinking about politics …

I am looking forward to getting off this political roller coaster that we’ve been on for the past week and getting back to the ever-growing stack of must-read journals and want-to-read books. And since the Christmas holidays will be very much subdued this year it is my fervent hope that for once we can observe the season of Advent the way it should be observed. All of us need time for peaceful reflection and — no matter what our beliefs — hopes and prayers for the Biden-Harris administration.

… but Tom Levy of Oakland, Calif., says the fight is far from over …

For those of us who wrote postcards and letters, and phone- and text-banked to voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia to get out the vote — the election is decidedly NOT over. That’s because two Senate seats in Georgia are still up for grabs in runoff elections scheduled for Jan. 5. Take a break. Sleep in. And rest up. Because those of us determined to do our best to help elect Democrats to the Senate in Georgia are about to jump in across the country.

… and Richie Feathers of Boston is already worried about the race after the runoffs.

Instead of basking in the victory for longer than a day, I’m already worried about 2022, which, if history is any indication, will now skew red. This anticipated rebuke of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be especially frustrating because voters will claim not enough got done, but turn in their votes for Republican senators who ensure not enough will get done.

Sam Fisher, of Katy, Texas, sees some hope for political dialogue close to home …

I’m looking forward to the knot hopefully disappearing from my stomach and my hair ceasing to fall out! I’m hopeful because my oh-so-dear friend and my oh-so-dear cousin have polar opposite views from mine, politically speaking, and through all of this, we are working hard to listen to one another, learn from one another, respect one another, love one another and find common ground. And dadgum it, if we can do it, the whole nation should be able to!

… and Darrell Sabin, of Moraga, Calif., sees the healthy functioning of a two-party system.

I look at this election and feel more comfortable than ever that our form of government will last the test of time. This election showed that we have two healthy parties. The Republicans and the Democrats set records in voter turnout. Our country fortunately has both Republicans and Democrats. Neither party has all the answers. Both parties are wrong and both parties are right “some of the time.” One party corrects the other party. Messy — but healthy.

But Jo Baxter of Palm City, Fla., sees hopeless divisions …

I don’t see much hope in this divided, mean environment, when both sides can’t even agree on the facts of a given situation. I am thrilled about Biden’s election, but scared by the sheer numbers of Trump’s support. Trump may eventually move out of the White House, but he has sullied the Oval Office forever.

… and Jeanne-Marie Lane of Everett, Wash., sees an uphill battle ahead.

I am not actually looking for stupendous, noteworthy moments for the next four years. I am hoping for a return to communication and actions resulting from willingness to compromise on both sides of issues, because Trump won’t be in the middle causing continual conflict and mistrust.

It may take the next four years for all of us to recover, even slightly. To return to respect for each other. We’ve been in a war zone and it may take more than years to feel better about ourselves and each other and recover.

Ginny Swart, of Cape Town, simply wonders whether the nearly $14 billion spent on the election could have been put to better use …

The mind boggles. They could have fixed climate change for that. Fixed Iran. Fixed the health service. All that money wasted.

… and Lynn Alvey of Milwaukee speaks for all of us — especially those of us at On Politics.

Has it really been a week since the election? Why does it seem like years?

Readers’ responses were edited and condensed. Thanks, as always, to my colleague Isabella Grullón Paz for her help.

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We want to hear from our readers. Have a question? We’ll try to answer it. Have a comment? We’re all ears. Email us at [email protected].

From Opinion: Trump’s loss and refusal to concede

Will President Trump eventually concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden? Or is his refusal the next act in an unending showman’s routine?

The Times columnist Thomas Edsall argues that Mr. Trump’s “refusal to concede, and the support he is getting from his fellow Republicans, is part and parcel of the sustained drive by the right, especially since Barack Obama won a majority in 2008, to constrain and limit political participation by minorities by every available means.”

Transition: Latest Updates

He writes that tactics such as “gerrymandering, voter suppression, restricting the time and place of balloting, setting new rules for voter identification and so forth” are not just part of Mr. Trump’s next act but the continuation of long-term Republican efforts. Yet they have not stopped Mr. Biden from securing commanding victories in both the Electoral College and the national popular vote.

All of this calls for “a reckoning,” says the Times columnist Bret Stephens. “Trump’s loss is entirely on him — albeit in ways that roundly indict the conservative movement that made him its hero.”

Mr. Trump lost not simply because of strategic failures, but also for “two main and mutually reinforcing reasons,” writes Mr. Stephens. “The first is that he’s immoral — manifestly, comprehensively and unrepentantly.” The second? “Conservatives never tried to check his immorality. They rationalized, excused, enabled and ultimately celebrated it.”

Mr. Trump needed reality checks in order to succeed, says Mr. Stephens, but he had only an echo chamber. And it’s that very echo chamber and lack of expressed disapproval from Republicans that has both sealed Mr. Trump’s defeat and enabled his refusal to concede.

— Adam Rubenstein

… Seriously

“Gritty est populaire à cause du nihilisme.” Sometimes what you really need is a Gritty explainer, en français.

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