It’s the day before another presidential election, my seventh, and a beautiful blazing sun is burning in the sky. I’m burning the rubber on a state road in Indiana, returning from a job assignment that’s taken me far, far away from the urban capitol that is my home. On this road from Bloomington, the city that Indiana University built, rolling hills and lush wooded landscapes are dotted with local businesses and the occasional smattering of big box retailers. Every mile or two there’s a cluster of electoral signs, and a Trump sign is always featured prominently. Every farm I see has a Trump sign stuck out by the road.
There are no Hillary signs. As I reflect on this, I realize there are precious few in the city, too. I haven’t seen many as I’ve criss-crossed the state this autumn. There was that one, strangely in Connersville, where the Trump signs dominates both in number and size. Yuuuuge Trump signs in that area, and then that little bitty Hillary sign in the yard of a cheap ranch house with purple trim and a half a dozen wind chimes strewn in a dead wildflower garden. At this point I honestly couldn’t tell you if there weren’t that many or if I’d tuned them out, like I’ve largely tuned out this election. This year I’ve been afraid to hope.
As I drive I listen to the NPR station broadcast from Indy. I keep it on for company, and to check in on what the rabid partisans are reporting. It’s the top of the hour for Evening Edition, and so the local news is on to briefly report on the local scene. The trees are still clinging to their leaves owing to unseasonably warm weather, and I’m almost too distracted by the beauty of the turning oaks to hear the announcer talking about the results for early voting here in Indiana. Like a child coming out of a reverie, I’m shocked back into awareness by it.
Indiana has shattered the 2008 early voting total. Hoosiers have cast more than 700,000 early votes this year. But Indianapolis / Marion County is way down; it has seen fewer than 63,000 early votes cast, down from 87,000+ in 2008.
I know what this means. It means that rural and suburban Indiana is turning out, and that urban Indiana is not. I also know that this cannot just be happening in Indiana. And just like that, I’m not afraid to hope anymore.
This election has confounded pundits, pollsters, and politicians. All of them have tried to create a perception of inevitability. They have tried to sell Hillary Clinton’s glass jaw with the same gusto that Summer’s Eve has sold douche for years: with pretty pictures, soft music, and artificial scents. It’s not working out for them. As I’ve occasionally tuned in, I’m drawn again and again to the lack of enthusiasm on Twitter among Hillbots, Obots, and Bernouts, and to the humor of Donald Trump supporters. I don’t read polls or follow poll averages, except for the IBD and the LA Times / Dornslife polls, both of which were the most accurate polls in 2012. Today they’re both showing Trump ahead, by 2 and 5 points respectively.
As I drive home I allow myself to let it go and to hope. I visualize Trump’s trademark profile haunting noxious reporters and pundits for the next four years. I allow myself to imagine a relatively happy, peaceful, prosperous America, one not at unnecessary war with itself. I conjure in my mind an elegant Melania Trump and mini-me Barron Trump standing beside the president as he is sworn in.
I do not even care if this is fantasy at this moment. As I drive, I am burning with a need for this new America. I see construction workers finishing up their day working on this state road, which they have done for years now, and I know they need it too. I know the farmers need it. My colleagues, Hillary supporters every one, who stumbled all over themselves today planning their schedules to vote tomorrow, and who lamented that they had not done it earlier, need it. I know that liberals and progressive need it. They’ve had their way and their say for 8 long years and nothing brings humility and change like defeat. Most of all never-Trumpers need it. They needed more proof and when Trump is elected, they shall get it.
Evening Edition moves into a manipulative segment involving 5th graders imploring people to vote at the University of Colorado. Their still-childlike voices are chirping out the identity-based ideological historical points they’ve learned at Boulder Community School of Integrated Studies. They are very passionate, but alas far too young to vote. They are talking about a different America, one long in the past, one that I never knew. I decide to go with my gut, and switch off the radio. I’ve got a new hope for a new America, and for now, that’s enough. I did my part. I cast my vote and delivered my network to the polls. The rest is up to my fellow Americans. #MAGA