A LABOR DAY TIME CAPSULE
Open: Nov. 5-7, 2020
We – Mr. O, the optopossumistic and politically astute opossum who’s been staying in our backyard this summer, and I got to talking, and we thought we’d memorialize a weekend when everything seems possible.
Think of it as sort of a time capsule, to be read now and dug up a few days after the Nov. 3 election, when the vote might be clear. Consider it as a reminder of what it’s like when the weather’s perfect, there’s hope for the future and we are free.
When we talk about a “glorious” weekend, we do so without forgetting that this isn’t the case elsewhere in the country. The West is ablaze with wildfires, and temperatures are in “triple figures,” which doesn’t seem possible to survive.
Political fires are raging in Portland, Oregon and Kenosha, Wisconsin, where the fight for racial justice is most visible, and where Trump is hoping to revive his uncertain campaign with cynical, desperate appeals to “lawlessness and disorder.”
As we write this, Covid-19 is still on a rampage. Nearly 189,000 Americans are dead and 6.3 million have been ill with the coronavirus. The economy is wounded, although the stock market is going up and the unemployment rate is going down.
But here in pre-hurricane Newport, we’ve had a string of nice days and good news that reminds us of how America is supposed to be, as measured five ways. Feel free to contrast them with your post-election assessments, if you’re still alive and reading in November.
1. The Weather
3. The Campaign
4. Health of Democracy
5. Election Anxiety Level
1. THE WEATHER: Perfect.
From the National Weather Service: conditions are ideal, as measured by sensors at Newport State Airport. “Airport” in this context is a relative term for such a small facility, although it should be noted that the runways are paved. These are from a reading at 11:53 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 6:
- Temperature: 77 degrees
- Humidity: 66 %
- Dew point: 65 degrees
- Visibility: 10 miles
- Wind: 9 miles an hour, coming from the southwest, gusts up to 21 mph
A good weather day is overwhelming.
The house seems clean, even when its covered in dog hair (mine); the lawn looks lush (it’s so dry that it crunches even when feet as small as an opossum’s walk on the grass). That 9 mile-an-hour wind is coming off the Atlantic Ocean right toward our house: cool, fresh and steady.
Humidity is said to be “low.” I asked Mr. O if he understands anything about humidity, and its mysterious cousin, the dew point.
The weather: Bright. Comfortable. Wonderful.
The skies are deep blue; the clouds puffy; the air and everything else are perfect.
“Optopossumism is in the air,” Mr. O says.
2. POLLS: Biden leads
We know polls misled us in 2016. Still, they are our only insight to how things are going on Labor Day.
Here’s the roundup from the Real Clear Politics website as of 11:45 a.m. Monday, Sept. 7:
But it’s real clear that Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump. Not by much. A little more than 7 percentage points between the two, a little better than when we looked yesterday, and you’ll notice the “up” arrow in the line underneath that, which means Joe may be gaining in the battleground states (where voting actually counts).
So, this weekend, our guy’s ahead. Not a time when we're trying to book a flight to Antarctica.
3. CAMPAIGN: Trump on defense
Trump's latest maneuver seems to be failing, trying to scare what Joe might call the “heck” out of white women: his racist warnings that Portlandia’s fire and chaos are coming soon to a suburb near you, along with danger that aspirational Blacks want to be your neighbors, and that “only I” can stop them.
Generally, Trump’s been on the defensive this weekend, following news reports that he disparaged America’s soldiers, including those killed in war, as “losers” and “suckers.” We’re not sure that those of you who are reading this Time Capsule in November will even remember this controversy; but this weekend, it’s hot.
There have been more minor, but satisfying, developments. For example, Trump’s supporters have been launching flotillas of power boats, displaying huge banners and flags. But during one recent expedition on a Texas lake, the fleet churned up such huge wakes that five boats sank (nobody was hurt).
Overall, he’s more than holding his own.
To sum up, as of Labor Day Weekend, with 56, days before the election, there’s reason to daydream about Donald Trump heading back to Trump Tower, where the “up” escalator is waiting to lift him heavenward and out of our lives.
4. STATE OF OUR DEMOCRACY: Functioning, if barely
Trump has trashed the Constitution and damaged most essential federal agencies.
With the failure of the Republican Senate to convict Trump after his impeachment by the House, and a decision by special counsel Robert Mueller not to hold him accountable in plain English for the misdeeds his investigation documented about the Russians connections to Trump’s campaign, there are few restraints on him.
Even with the Democrats taking control of the House during the mid-term elections, making the House the only check on his abusive activities, Trump has trampled both law and tradition.
His abuse of pardon powers, functional approval of Russian acts of war against elections, cruel immigration maneuvers, attacks on science, corruption of the justice system—finally installing a toady as attorney general – have nearly broken a Constitutional system that most of us once believed reliably protected democracy.
In his nearly four years, he hasn’t quite broken the country – because the courts, the military, Republicans of conscience, an economically weakened, but still-operating press, members of his own family – have stood up to him.
The election is the final lifeline, and Trump has openly worked to undermine that, hobbling he Post Office’s ability to handle mail ballots, and attacking confidence in voting-by-mail in general, lying about its susceptibility to fraud, advising people to vote twice, refusing to pledge to honor the outcome.
Most people who understand how ruinous Trump has been believe that if Biden loses, the country as we’ve known it, or hoped it could become, will not survive. Free speech will disappear, as will our ability to respond to challenges of the economy, healthcare, housing, hunger, education, climate, equal justice.
Borrowing from the system used in emergency rooms to assess pain:
On a scale of 1 to 10, in which 1 is negligible, and 10 is horrendous, how would you rate
your level of anxiety about the election?
Even on a glorious Labor Day weekend, even when everything seems so nice and going our way?
• Phoebe: 9 ½
• Mr. O: 9 ¼
Almost, but not quite, unbearable.
Liberals, if nothing else, are worriers.
We hope that when this time capsule is opened, you'll be able to give this category a much different, lower rating.
But just in case, remember that long-ago Labor Day weekend, when everything was perfect, like it's supposed to be.