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Batavick: With election over, it’s time for our nation to begin to heal | COMMENTARY

I breathed a sigh of relief when last week was over. Sure, I believe the better candidate won, but I was also proud that so many of my fellow Americans heeded the call to vote and did so in record numbers during a pandemic. I hope that all the younger participants continue to sustain this great experiment in democracy as it rolls through its third century. I was also relieved that the election day violence some had been predicted never materialized.

We achieved record voting levels despite the GOP’s coordinated and shameless attempt to disenfranchise voters at the national and state level. Hampering the U.S. Postal Service, minimizing the number of ballot drop-off boxes and slashing the days for early voting as some states did, lying about the safety of mail-in ballots—all this was old-fashioned vote suppression, but none of it could deter the will of the people.

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Lastly, I was gratified that we apparently have systems in place to neuter the mischief of Russian and Chinese bad actors. Aside from social media administrators taking down some troublesome foreign-ascribed Facebook and Twitter posts, there wasn’t much to report.

The great irony is that the biggest saboteur of our sacred electoral process proved to be the president. Setting the table early with warnings about mail-in ballots, tweeting a demand to “STOP THE COUNT,” and then making a baseless claim that the election was being “stolen and rigged” were signatures of his aberrant behavior. And now we have his senseless lawsuits and refusal to assist the transition process. Every American should condemn these attacks on one of our immutable rights and founding blocks of democracy. This is not who we are.

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Another underside of the election is our rickety and often broken in-person voting process. We are fortunate here in Carroll County not to have long waits, but others around the nation should not have to stand in line for hours to exercise their franchise. The problem is most common in urban areas and disproportionately impacts African American and Latino voters. Voting should take no longer than thirty minutes. The states urgently need more polling places, poll workers, and voting machines. If they and Congress are not willing to do what’s necessary, the new president should issue an executive order as one of his first items of business.

Trump had nearly 71 million supporters. How were they able to filter out his antic and often malevolent behavior? I understand taking a chance on him in 2016, but how can they be OK with his COVID-19 mismanagement, tax cheating, self-dealing, flagrant lying, and policy of ripping kids from their families at the border?

I wonder how many voters prefer Trump because he’s entertaining. Are they impressed by his ersatz glitz and glamour and find every put-down, insult, and off-the-wall statement at his rallies amusing? I can only imagine the votes that a Don Rickles or Rodney Dangerfield would get today. I like stand-up comedians, too. I just don’t think they should control the reins of government and the nuclear codes.

OK. I’ll stop. This is a time to heal, not offend, and we have a great deal of healing to do. The country is divided and brimming with enmity. Examples are everywhere. I have a friend who’s a veteran teacher. After a social studies lesson, she asked the class where they’d like to live in this wide world. One 11-year-old said, “It would depend on whether it was a red or blue state.”

How do we begin to heal? Not in tantrums and baseless claims of voter fraud, but in accepting the people’s choice of an even-keeled moderate who preaches unity. Joe Biden might be boring. He’s not driven to own every news cycle. He rarely tweets. These are good things.

The nation’s psyche needs a rest from the feeling that we’ve all been living in a pinball machine, careening from one noisy, flashing paddle or flipper to another. We also need someone with a real plan to combat COVID-19, climate change, a shattered economy, our diminished role on the world stage, and dozens of other challenges.

I’ll close with a quote from our president-elect: “All those of you who voted for President Trump, I understand the disappointment tonight. I’ve lost a couple of times myself. But now, let’s give each other a chance. It’s time to put away the harsh rhetoric, lower the temperature, see each other again, listen to each other again, and to make progress.”

I’ll try to do as he asks. Won’t you join me?

Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears every other Friday. Email him at fjbatavick@gmail.com.

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