Tuesday nears, after such epic ugliness. “It’s almost over,” friends say. “We’ll finally be done with this.” What a lovely thought. What a naïve fantasy.
There’s no end here, just a punctuation mark, a measly comma between the rancor that has built until this point and the fury to come. And there’s no way to un-see what all of us have seen over these last 18 months, to bottle up what has been un-bottled.
Election Day will redeem and settle nothing, not this time around. No matter who declares victory, tens of millions of Americans will be convinced — truly convinced — that the outcome isn’t legitimate because untoward forces intervened. Whether balloons fall on Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, there will be bolder divisions in America than there were at the start of it all and even less faith in the country’s most important institutions.
The person taking office will do so not on a wave of hope but amid tides of disgust, against fierce currents of resistance. Tell me how she or he moves forward. Tell me how America does.
Frank Bruni, “Why This Election Terrifies Me”, The New York Times (6 November 2016), SR3.