Editor's Note: Our least structured thoughts are published regularly as "Notes." These include germs of arguments, random musings, and updates on what we are reading and writing. If you like this post, consider becoming a member to support our work.
Damir — (11:55): OK, not sure we're getting more Shadi tonight. Collective spirits low here in my living room. Still, as I type, Biden retook the lead in VA, with all those early votes hitting.
John King looks on the verge of tears, but I sometimes wonder if he's just manipulating his audience for the ratings. If he was honest and told everyone that we won't know what's going to happen, we'd all go to sleep.
Damir — (11:35): I'm hate-watching CNN.
Damir — (11:15): I guess I'm not there with you, Shadi. On some pretty fundamental level, democracy is just a legitimation mechanism for me. I have my preferences, for sure, and I still think four more years of Trump is spectacularly bad for this country, and on the balance for the world. But I've never been under this delusion that the collective horse sense of voters gets you to better outcomes.
That, perhaps, is also why I haven't been so outraged by Trump's nastiness, and I haven't been troubled by the idea that Trump is a legitimate president. To me, in theory, there's nothing so outrageous about the thought of a people collectively picking him.
I still think Biden's got this. I'm finding it difficult to imagine that the fundamentals about the economy and the pandemic can be marketed away. I could be wrong. I will be disappointed if I am. But I will not be disheartened in some metaphysical way. Democracy is not, and never has been, a guarantee of good governance.
Shadi — (11:06pm): Hypothesis: Americans break for the more "authentic," exciting candidate in the final week
Shadi — (10:22pm): I'm thinking about my mom, and how she was volunteering all day at the PA office where they were preparing to process ballots. This is going to be hard for a lot of us. But my mom believed that democracy works, that it self-corrects. And now it's dawning on us that it might not
Damir — (10:10pm): So time for me to start taking some stock. My instinct was that the country is in a palpably, almost objectively, bad place, and that voters would be in a "throw the bums out" mood. Perhaps what I didn't probably appreciate is that Trump supporters have genuinely been more positive and enthusiastic than Democrats. I've heard this from my reporter friends who have gone to rallies. You can see it in Trump's supercut video released this morning.
Maybe this is how politics works.
Shadi — (9:46pm): Okay, we've been trying to do gallows humor here to lighten the mood. But the sense of dread is starting to really descend upon us (me personally but also at the election "party" I'm at). It's funny, but it's also not funny.
Damir — (9:40): The big story could be the Senate not flipping. Also a very good thing. Still think Biden's gonna do it.
Damir — (9:35): Overheard at the party: "What are you gonna do after NATO is abolished?"
Shadi — (9:30pm): It's offensive honestly, and I think I'm allowed to take offense on election night, no? Your brownness decreases the more your ethnic compatriots vote for Donald Trump. Got it.
Shadi — (9:26pm): If Biden wins, it will have been because of white women. If Trump wins, it will have been because of Hispanics, Blacks, and Muslims. It's that kind of night I guess 🤷🏽♂️
Damir — (9:24pm): Whatever else happens, it will have been worth it:
Damir — (9:20pm): Nerves abound in the room here, but I'm still not rattled. Ohio seems to be bearing out my confidence in Biden pulling this out.
Shadi — (9:05pm): The needle has apparently vanished.
Shadi — (9:03pm): I guess people *really* want to test this whole "Is Trump a fascist?" thing and just go all the way on it for political science purposes.
Shadi — (9:01pm): So it appears we're entering the "Well, we're going to lose again!" portion of the night, as one text message I just got gently suggests.
Damir — (9:00PM EST): I got off Twitter at around 1pm. I couldn't take it. People's nervous energy was driving me nuts, and I had work to do. Now I've got a few friends at my place, Shadi Hamid among them. I'm still staying off Twitter, but friends are reading things out loud. We've got CNN on the TV, watching results trickle in.
My prediction—and I still think it's the best outcome for America—is holding up well:
I saw that Greg Sargent has interviewed Ruy Teixeira, author of the Emerging Democratic Majority, earlier today. I haven't read it yet. But if Trump loses, while outperforming every previous Republican candidate with people of color, I do wonder how that thesis will age.