As soon as I learned that Joe Biden had been elected President of the United States, I scraped the bumper stickers off my car. The one I most hated to see go featured Abe Lincoln wearing aviator sunglasses and the words RIDIN’ WITH BIDEN. But into the trash it went, along with all the others.
I did it for a couple of reasons. First, I was determined not to gloat. I wanted to be a gracious winner. To model sportsmanlike conduct. The other reason was caution. I’d already had too close a call just a few days earlier, caused by someone who apparently didn’t share my political views.
Travelling home from the election office on November 2 after picking up all the stuff that goes into setting up a voting precinct—poll pads, voting machines, extension cords, ink pens, provisional ballots, change of address forms, signs, tape, orange cones, American flag and tons of Covid stuff, including hand sanitizer, Lysol spray and disposable gloves– I was almost t-boned by the driver of a minivan who pulled out of a side street at high speed. I managed to swerve into another lane and avoid a crash, but the near-miss left me shaking. Not only could I have been hurt, but all that election equipment might also have been damaged.
But there’s more. The offending driver, a man who looked to be about my age, followed in my lane for a short distance and then pulled up next to me at a stoplight. He rolled down his window. Assuming he was going to apologize for frightening me, I rolled mine down, too. That’s when he let me have it, angrily jabbing his index finger in the air and shouting that people like me were going to ruin this country. When the light turned green, he stuck his left hand out the window, raised his middle finger and roared off.
I made a careful U-turn and went home another way.
I could only assume he’d become enraged by my bumper stickers. It was clear that, for my own safety, they needed to be removed. But come hell or high water, I wouldn’t do it until the election was over.
Last Saturday, when the news that Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes had been awarded to Biden, I took a spray bottle of De-Solv-it and a plastic scraper out to the garage and removed four political bumper stickers from my car. They’d served their purpose. Though my candidates didn’t win in Putnam County or in Tennessee, it felt good to have done my part.
Next, I began taking stock of campaign signs around town. Though TRUMP-PENCE signs outnumbered BIDEN-HARRIS by a huge margin, most people on both sides had left their signs in the yard. It will be interesting to see how long they stay.
Here’s my fervent hope for the days and weeks to come. I hope the election results will be certified on time in all 50 states and that the 538 electors will meet on December 14 and do their job honorably. I hope President Trump will graciously vacate the White House as President Biden takes his place. I hope that, despite the coronavirus, the two men will shake hands. I hope the inauguration is safe and subdued and that nobody makes a single remark about the size of the crowd.
And then I hope the rebel flags and MAGA hats and, yes, even those aviator sunglasses that so many people purchased, will be shoved to the back of the closet or thrown away. I hope we’ll come together as Americans and try to find ways to get past this pandemic and the many, many other problems troubling this nation.
Last but not least, I hope the trolls on social media will abandon their wicked ways. But that’s the subject for another column.
(November 14, 2020)