A recurring festival of great solemnity is once more observed. As I remarked last time we went through this, the main result of the election of 2016 was the dramatic increase in intensity in fervor and consensus regarding the alleged significance of elections. And surely now is the moment that confirms this popular piety in every respect! From every corner of the land pour in reports of "record ballot returns," already exceeding the count of four years ago, "the highest turn-out since..." That can't be a bad thing, can it? I mean, people care!
But there is care and care, and my concern is that this turnout is far more symptom than cure. This is because our national case of DTs is itself -- DT is, himself -- a symptom. To be sure, a symptom can be fatal -- but it might also be a way to a sort of cure (a fever, for instance, could be either).
In our case, "people care" means -- well, we've had four years of "caring," and I am open to persuasion that it's better than indifference, but it will take some persuading. People "care" in sports events and knife fights and network-
sponsored mediated humanitarian crises; people have a certain detachment in watching even Antigone or King Lear, and quite a number of humanitarian crises have occasioned hardly a yawn. Neither fascination nor apathy per se are salutary or pernicious. (I work with young people, and I have had occasion to note that there is little that educators fear as much as they fear children's boredom; and as for engagement -- education and politics alike are repackaged as bread and circuses.)
No matter what transpires on (and in the aftermath of) Election Night USA 2020, the task before us as human beings remains the same: to be present, conscious, curious, kind. Does this entail voting? Does it entail for whom?
By all means, vote -- I did -- if you answer Yes; if your conscience demands it; if you live in a "swing state;" if it makes you feel better. But do not put your faith in an "engaged citizenry," especially if you are a part of it, unless you know what is making them (and yourself) engaged, and in what spirit.
* from T.S. Eliot, "Ash Wednesday," in case you were wondering.