Hallelujah! The election is over.
This cycle, to me anyway, was as painful as getting all four wisdom teeth pulled at the same time with no anesthetic.
But you learn from every experience, even painful ones, and this is what the 2020 election cycle has taught me.
1. Donald Trump is here to stay. He has a far larger and more diverse group of supporters than he’s been given credit for and it’s time we all acknowledge that — and figure out why that is. Trumpism is ill-defined but something a big swath of the country believes in. Get used to it.
2. Progressives are in for a hard time. Nothing indicates the country is ready for a left turn. The Blue Tsunami wasn’t even a drip. Centrists continue to rule and will for a while.
3. My faith in polls has been crippled. If 2016 was bad, 2020 was a disaster on a state and national level. Most casual readers don’t understand the science behind polling but expect the numbers to at least be in the ballpark. They weren’t. Even pollsters know this was a bad cycle.
4. The two-party system has failed us. Who believes R’s and D’s are going to stop calling each other stupid and get back to serving us? Ain’t gonna happen. Partisanship reigns. Which is why we need …
5. Strong third-party candidates who can actually win elections. Breaking the two-party monopoly would force lawmakers to (gasp!) form coalitions and work together for their constituents. That’s what we need.
6. We can make voting easier. By all accounts voting went smoothly with voter fraud allegations widely debunked. We gave voters the choice to mail or drop off ballots, vote early, or vote on Election Day. Eventually, we will allow mass voting over the internet. Easy = better.
7. A strong turnout is great for democracy. A record 160 million Americans could cast votes in 2020. It’s hard to dispute outcome when we have high participation.
8. People can celebrate their differences. Just look at Philadelphia. The downtown area turned into dueling demonstrations featuring Trump and Biden supporters. And they were peaceful. Just good people expressing their point of view and not screaming at each other. Which means we ….
9. Will be OK. In the moment it seemed like the world was on fire, just like it did during the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam protests, and the racial unrest of the 1960s. We got through it OK.
10. We can do better next time. Learn from the pain. Encourage more people to vote. Stop the divisiveness. Embrace different views. Image how much better off we’d all be if we did that?
Ray Marcano, a former Dayton Daily News editor, is a media lecturer at Wright State University. He’s the former national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, a two-time Pulitzer juror and a Fulbright fellow. Marcano is a community contributor. Community contributors are people who frequently submit fact-based columns.