A few cards for my birthday would be nice, and maybe some phone calls from family and friends. I wouldn’t mind a cake, and a few candles on top would be all right.
But please, please skip the fireworks.
This year my birthday happens to fall on Election Day. This occurs every few years, but until this time around I really didn’t give it much thought. But like so much else about 2020, this year is different.
Any inclination to celebrate takes a back seat to my concerns over the deep unrest, the hate and division I see all around me in this country. I very much see the election bringing this all to a head, and dread over what the day will bring has settled over me like a cold, heavy, dark fog.
A big part of me – my inner innate optimist – struggles to fight off that fog and believe that all will be peaceful at the polls, and as the votes are counted. But I also am deep down a realist who can’t easily accept such a rose-colored view of events.
I was deadly serious when I said we can skip the fireworks on Election Night. This is very much out of character for me. I am not a worrier, I refuse to be cowed by fear, but my lifelong immersion in history and experience as a journalist leads me to conclude violence and unrest is a very real possibility in the days after the election.
Until the last handful of years, and especially the last few months, I never dreamed in my worst nightmares that such could be the case in America. But my gut tells me, and the writings of many intelligent observers concur, that we should be prepared for that very possibility.
Over the last few months our leader has levied unfounded accusations of voter fraud involving mail-in ballots. Those baseless accusations are designed to do only one thing – to undermine the election, and cast doubt on the outcome should the candidate making those accusations lose the election.
We have dedicated, competent, patriotic elections officials in all 50 states – a mix of both Republicans and Democrats – working very hard to ensure that the election will be conducted and ballots counted in a fair and accurate manner. Those officials have stated unanimously there is no evidence of any widespread election fraud, and that the mail-in voting process is safe and reliable. Our national intelligence agencies unanimously concur.
Mail in voting has a storied history in America, dating back to the Civil War when the practice allowed Union soldiers in the field to cast their ballots. Today, in the midst of a deadly pandemic, mail-in voting has the potential to save lives.
To call into question mail-in voting is aiming a dagger at the heart of our democracy. It threatens the backbone of our incredibly resilient country, the sanctity of elections and peaceful transition of power.
Regardless of whether our particular candidate wins or loses, we all need to let election officials do their job, respect the process and accept that result. Should the election be tight and the results delayed for a few days, restraint and respect for the process becomes all the more important. Anything less threatens our very democracy itself.
My fervent birthday my wish is for country to be more important than candidate, and democracy to reign supreme.
I hope and pray that Wednesday morning finds us peacefully celebrating the strength of our democracy. I sincerely hope we have a clear winner and a populace and political leaders at peace with that result.
Right now that optimist within me is getting a boost, an early birthday present of sorts, in the record-shattering numbers of early voters. It warms my heart to see that so many Americans really do care, really do want to make a difference, and are willing to stand in line for hours if need be to cast their ballot.
So when I am eating leftover birthday cake on Nov. 4 I hope all will be well and I will be telling myself I was wrong to anticipate that this Election Day would be any different than those of the recent past.
Yes, laying my concerns to rest would be the greatest birthday gift of my life.
Don Allison is an author, historian and retired editor of The Bryan Times. He can be reached at www.fadedbanner.com.