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The Day After Election Day

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An Anticipatory Memoir

I went to bed at 2:30 a.m. the night of Election Day—actually, the morning after Election Day. I’d spent the night glued to the T.V. (MSNBC, occasionally flipping to CNN). By 10 p.m. Tuesday night, Brian Williams made it official: NBC news analysts were calling the election for Biden. Moreover, they were predicting the Blue Tsunami that had been widely expected.

I might have gone to bed then. But memories of the 2016 election kept me up. Was this real? Had the American people finally come to their senses? With a few glasses of red wine inside my belly, I was getting sleepy. I actually had reached for the remote and was going to switch it off and stumble to bed when the BREAKING NEWS red alert flashed on. Rachel Maddow this time: Trump had tweeted. It was after 1 a.m. Eastern time. My T.V. screen put up his tweet. “DEMOCRATS TRYING TO STEAL ELECTION!!! I WILL NOT ALLOW THEM!!! GET READY FOR A FIGHT!!!”

Well, if that wasn’t enough to bring me fully awake, I don’t know what would have been. Maybe a 7.2 magnitude on the Hayward Fault. Trump had evidently taken to twitter in a frenzy; the tweets were coming faster than MSNBC could put them up. I went to @RealDonaldTrump but couldn’t get in: the screen simply froze. I suppose a billion people or more were trying to find out what he was saying.

“I HAVE ORDERED NATIONAL GUARD TO SEIZE POLLING STATIONS!!!” MSNBC aired another of his onscreen tweets. And “TO MY WONDERFUL SUPPORTERS!!! LOCK AND LOAD!!!” The MSNBC hosts were now getting frantic. Rachel: “We’re not sure what to make of this, folks.” Brian Williams: “The election results evidently have caught the attention of the President, although we can’t be sure what he has in mind.” Steve Schmidt, a guest panelist, knew. “I don’t mean to sound the alarm”—

–“Yes, you do!” Rachel interjected—

–“But it looks like Trump is not going to accept the results of this election. He’s calling on his armed supporters to get ready for their marching orders. This evil sociopath looks like he’s fomenting an armed rebellion.”

I poured myself a steadying glass of cognac. This was going to be a long night.

At 2:27 a.m. on the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 4, Rachel and Brian Williams, both looking haggard and frightened, went off the air, replaced by Lawrence O’Donnell and Joy Reid. “We still have no idea what’s happening out there,” Lawrence said. Added Joy, “We have correspondents across the country. We’re finding stuff out as it happens. Stay with us.” But I just couldn’t. As I said, I went to bed at 2:30 a.m.–collapsed into bed is more like it—but after fitful, crazy dreams I didn’t remember, I awoke at 6:05 a.m. Rushed to the T.V. and turned it on.

Still Joy and Lawrence, now joined by Steve Kornacki, who was at the Big Board. “To call this a Blue Wave or Tsunami is putting it mildly,” he accounced excitedly. “Look at the red states that flipped blue: Pennsylvania. Ohio. Michigan. Wisconsin. Florida. Arizona. Georgia. Biden is ahead in Texas, although our election analysts are still calling that race too close to call. Huge Democratic victories for the Senate in swing states. There’s no doubt about it, Joy and Lawrence, this is turning into a rout of Republicans of historic proportions.”

Suddenly, more BREAKING NEWS. It was 9:20 a.m. in Washington, D.C., where NBC now turned for a Bill Barr announcement. Live, from his desk in the U.S. Department of Justice, the Attorney-General told the American people that “We are actively challenging the results of this election, which has been compromised by massive fraud, especially in mail-in voting, where it is likely that millions of fraudulent ballots were submitted.” There were no journalists to ask Barr any followup questions. “President Trump has asked me to assure the American people that he has no intention of submitting to a fake election. The President himself will address the American people later today from the Oval Office.”

The screen switched back to Joy Reid. “Wow,” she said, shaking her head. “Just wow.” “What we’re seeing,” Lawrence O”Donnell said, “is a coup.” Suddenly, more BREAKING NEWS: Joe Biden was speaking live, from what appeared to be his study or living room. “We Democrats have won this election in a landslide, as the American people have decisively rejected the anarchy and insanity of a rogue regime. Sadly, the current occupant of the White House is unable to accept the reality that he, through his criminality and incompetence, has brought upon himself. I urge the American people to be prepared to resist Trump’s attempt to undo the result of a legitimate election.” Exactly how he expected the people to resist, Biden did not say.

And so, as I write these words mid-morning here in California on the day after Election Day, the country has been thrown into absolute chaos—even as the number of infected Americans exceeds 15 million and deaths are mounting. The streets outside are strangely empty: I suppose everyone else is glued to their T.V. sets. A few minutes ago, CNN reported that “a mob of gun-toting Trump supporters” attacked the State House in Jackson, Mississippi, claiming to have seized control of that state and established a new Confederate State for Trump. And I just got an email alert from the Oakland City Manager stating that protestors have planned a huge march and rally to begin today at noon.

Gus looks up at me with wide eyes from his little bed. He knows something’s up. He can always feel these things. I nuzzle him. “It’s okay, pups,” I say soothingly. “Everything’s cool.” If only I could convince myself.

  1. Yep. That’s my nightmare scenario exactly.

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