By Samir Shukla
I was recently thinking of the three monkeys of wisdom, you know - speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil. Not sure why those came into my mind, maybe it's because this unhinged and disorienting year is slowly but mercifully coming to an end and I'm hopeful for a sunnier other side.
The pandemic, protests, political pandering, posturing and pillaging all converged this year and now we crawl into the final month of the final year of this social media-warped decade.
Social media has degraded into a defacing force in society, where in an alternate universe it can be a blooming exchange of ideas, solutions and progress. But I digress, that's a discussion for another day.
Throughout the political madness and shenanigans of this year, on Election Day, it was instructive to see masked voters streaming in and out of the precinct after casting their ballots.
Casting a secret ballot is the most powerful way an average citizen can make his or her voice heard. This year, on Election Day, there was nearly universal mask-wearing at the precinct in North Carolina where I was a poll worker. Masks added to the aura of that secrecy and the image of “speak no evil" while voting during the final day of the most toxic of all elections. During that 15-hour workday, while doing my assigned duties as poll worker, I thought of all the folks coming in to vote in person. I saw just one mask-less couple, there may have been others but I didn't notice.
It is said that facial expressions can tell tales, leak out emotions one maybe feeling, even hiding. It was befitting this year that, during the most equalizing democratic action of all, voting, essentially all faces were masked. It was a stream of dutiful citizens coming in and leaving their mark on the continuing experiment that is America. After a deafening campaign and political season, the masks evoked a meditative quiet and a reaffirmation of democratic process.
A record number of Americans voted and Election Day still ended with uncertainty. It took several days before it was clear that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris had won. Recounts, litigation and disinformation about fraud and stolen election have seeped into an unfortunate norm of American elections. There is no evidence of widespread fraud in this election cycle. Elections results will be certified and the Electors will cast their votes. Litigation and nonsense about fraud and stolen elections will go on for a spell. There will be a percentage of people that will always believe this election was stolen. Let them. Who cares?
The reality is that America spoke and now we have clean results, not a Blue wave, or a Red wave, but a divided, dare I say balanced, government. It really doesn't matter if President Trump concedes. It would be nice and could be his peace offering before he strolls out of the White House on January 20, 2021, but self-reflection is not something he does.
Election workers around the country are hardworking, largely transparent and want to avail the value of voting to all citizens, no matter what their political leanings maybe. I have seen this over the past few years working as a poll worker for every election. Volunteers and Poll workers do their assigned duties quite diligently. There are also observers from both parties at every precinct. It's a travesty that their work comes into question. Sure, there will be mistakes and maybe even bits of attempted fraud, but elections generally have proven to be transparent and fair.
This was also the case this year, even in this age of extreme divisiveness. The wonderful thing is that the system has largely worked. Even with the massive numbers of mail-in ballots cast this year in many states, claims of possible fraud have been made, but none of those claims have been proven. Fraud allegations must be investigated, of course, and brought into transparent view if any proven.
The national election may have wrapped, but an unfinished battle continues in Georgia where there are two Senate runoffs that will decide which party rules the Senate. Georgians will see an avalanche of negative TV advertising now till the runoff election day in early January. My sympathies are with them. Every vote matters. This simple statement continues to prove ever so essential, especially in these close, divided races.
In the meantime, as the rest of the country breathes a sigh of relief from the dissonance of election fading in the rear-view mirror, President-elect Biden is assembling his administration. Just like almost every event or occasion this year, his inauguration will look different.
We are now in a period of transition; the voters have spoken.
It's time to move forward.