We have never been exposed to something as dominating as next Tuesday’s vote, a scant four days away. Much hangs in the balance and our mistrust of information — all of it — has us holding our breath. The memory of four years ago holds us hostage. There is no space for unrestrained confidence.

The polls have Joe Biden comfortably ahead. And we’re told he leads in voting cohorts beyond what Hillary Clinton had in 2016.

Cold comfort. It’s not over until it’s over and there in our minds is the shadow that lurks, even if Mr. Trump loses what is he capable of doing between next Tuesday and January’s inauguration? How do his supporters respond? What we used to regard as expected, can’t be.

In a longer view of our circumstances, the real question is how we emerge from Mr. Trump’s shadow?

We won’t know until it happens and even then it will take time before we can tell which forces will prevail and with what message.

With a Biden victory the good news is that the American people will have shown that being liked matters, that unity trumps division. It may be that we are simply exhausted by the tower of lies and exaggeration of the past four years.

There is also the upside of a massive voter turnout, far in excess of what we saw in 2016, which is interesting, and encouraging since Mr. Biden is every bit the establishment candidate that Hillary Clinton was.

This year, in contrast to 2016, the Bernie Sanders’ forces will vote and not sit at home sulking. [Most probably have voted already.] No one took Mr. Trump seriously four years ago, including mainline Democrats. They were complacent, arrogant and dismissive. It was a defeat of historic proportions right up to this week’s Supreme Court confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett.

Should Mr. Biden prevail, there will be lessons to be learned on both sides of the political aisle. Democrats will need to heed the public’s clamor for unity and to figure out improved ways to communicate with the American public. Reason and thoughtfulness will be the currency most valued. Republicans will need to understand that if they are going to succeed as a party that they will need to reach beyond its ever-narrowing base of old white men who live in rural America.

For Republicans, a Trump loss may be what frees them from the far right. That’s the hope. Republicans looking at 2022 and 2024 have to realize they can’t win elections without carrying larger population centers, a more diverse constituency, and the money that comes from both. It’s basic math.

Should Mr. Trump lose, the question is how long it will take before Republicans emerge from their hang over and pursue the obvious. [Figuring out how to resurrect the stimulus bill to combat the pandemic would be a start.]

If there is a common denominator hope from both parties it should be the declaration that the enemy of both is the polarization that has paralyzed us. Next Tuesday can’t come soon enough.

by Emerson Lynn

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