The Rationalist Papers (31): Election day

We’ve reached the end of this maddening election cycle. Three things:

First, if you still haven’t decided, ask yourself one question. Are you better off today than you were four years ago? That’s the question that the challenger Ronald Reagan asked the audience, a week before the election, in his final debate with President Jimmy Carter in the 1980 campaign cycle. I guess you know who won that one.

When both candidates have a track record and one has been president for four years, it’s a fair question.

Second, it’s been a frantic, angry, and falsity-soaked election. If your nerves are shot, I feel you. Even with the court challenges taking place in states like Pennsylvania and Texas, I believe we’ll have a fairly counted election without major controversy (and yes, I lived through the 2000 Bush v. Gore election). So be good to yourself. Take a walk. Call a friend. Make soup. Hug your children.

I recommend this calming experience from the New York Times. (Totally non-partisan, I promise.)

Finally, gratitude.

I earned your trust over five years writing about books, authors, and writing clarity. Then I hijacked things by talking about the election in the calmest way I could, because I sensed people needed that. You responded as I had hoped you would, with (mostly) thoughtful commentary. It really did feel like a space where we could respect each other and stop shouting.

The Rationalist Papers is done now, and I’m grateful to you for listening. Whether or not it made a difference in the election, it made a difference for me. That wouldn’t have been possible without your attention.

The time for panicking is past. We most likely won’t know who won the election tonight. But I’m thinking we will pretty soon after. After everything that’s happened, I believe the American election system, flawed as it is, will return the best result for the country.

Take it easy. See you on the other side.

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  1. Josh

    Thank you for writing this series. I have found it compelling. As usual, you have made me make sense out of an intricate topic.

    You write good. 🙂

  2. Josh, through the “Rationalist Papers” you’ve honored the wisdom of one of my spiritual mentors, St Francis of Assisi. In seeking to be a peace maker, he prayed,

    “Grant that I may not so much seek to be understood, as to understand.”

    Mission accomplished – thank you.

  3. Josh –

    I’ve enjoyed follow these every day, even as I was not in your target audience. Your thoughtful analyses and humor were an important part of this election cycle for me. Thanks!

  4. Is that the question that Biden wants answered?
    By almost all measures, the answer is yes (stock market: DJI: 18,333>27,452; employment:254.5MM>260.7MM, and so on). (And all of that in the crisis of our lifetime.) Now we have a weak president by design in the Constitution, so it is fair to not credit or blame them for life, but we do.

    I also think that Biden does not want to answer the ancillary question: Are you better off after 50 years of Biden? The answer is clear and not good for Joe. Note: the world and the US is definitely better off now, but I think it is despite, not because.

    And the third related question: Will you be better off with Biden or Trump as President? also stings Uncle Joe.

    Biden goes zero for three on good questions to ask oneself.

    The most disappointing thing about this election was the clearly deficient candidates on the ballot. Obvious at the top, but my NW Arizona ballot had no one of note in any race (it’s a Senate year too). No one. I would not have hired any of the folks to walk my dog, if I had one.

    But soup does sound good. I think we all can agree on that.

  5. First Josh, thank you for a sane, articulate, indeed rational series. Like some other responders, I am not part of your avowed target audience of undecideds. In regard to the Reagan question, however, I think much of the nation (45%?) is no longer capable of answering in a globally responsible way. I am not ultimately better off if I see wild fires sweeping the West Coast or children orphaned or people dying needlessly of the virus. You have done much more than Reagan to bring forward the necessity of that perspective.

  6. Thank you for your series. It truly helped me to see rational thought. Also, that stress relief link in today’s message? Bravo! I’m hooked!