Opinion Columns & Blogs

Day-before hopes for the day after

In a break from my normal pattern, I am writing this on a bright morning at the first of the week instead of in the silent darkness of midnight as the week is ending. No, not a burst of unusual energy, but I know that the election will occupy my attention tomorrow, and if it goes the way I hope, I’ll be too exhausted and relieved to concentrate on writing. If it goes wrong, I’ll be sunk in the depths of despair and may swear off writing forever.

I’ve tried to avoid writing about the election most weeks, but now I want to say something about it. I want to talk about the things I hope will happen after it’s all over and all the winners are announced, no matter who or of what party. Not major philosophical hopes, like wishing we could all come together again. My hopes now are smaller, more mundane wishes. Here they are, in no particular order.

I hope people will stop wailing that somebody is coming to take their guns. Nobody is. You are being played by folks who stand to gain something by encouraging your fear and your baseless claims. And since those so convinced that a bogeyman is crouching in preparation for gun-grabbing are often the same ones shrieking that Sharia law is a huge threat to our freedom, I hope they’ll stop that too. It might help if they research the subject and learn what Sharia law really is and how it works, and for whom.

Research does not mean memorizing partisan websites. Oddly, those most concerned about Sharia law often seem the most determined to shoe-horn their own religious beliefs into our government, mixing the two so as to eventually wind up with our own homegrown form of Sharia law. No matter who wins the election, I hope for a muting of the cries about Sharia, and also a reduction in the efforts to mix church and state.

I hope people who periodically rage about the unfairness and craziness of the Electoral College in our system will actually research the subject a bit. Admittedly, it is frustrating to think that your vote seems to carry no weight unless you happen to vote with the majority in your state. On the other hand, the current structure is vital to the successful functioning of our system overall. Again, it requires a little study. Not much. Look it up.

I hope those who delight in re-posting alleged political bombshells on Facebook will cease and desist. These are often headed with headlines like “They didn’t see this one coming!” or “(Blank) just hit (Blank) with this announcement from which he/she will never recover.” I learned long ago that these posts invariably distort or totally fabricate the nonsense they purport to disclose, that they are not just partisan but often borderline insane, and that they display gullibility, or a willingness to lie, in people for whom I once had respect. So I almost never read one. But it takes time to scroll past them, and I do so with a feeling of revulsion, of having been somehow made dirty by just seeing them, like inadvertently touching vomit.

I share the belief of many in a Supreme Being, the one God. I believe God is over all of us. But I hope no one will continue to tell me that the outcome of the election is the will of God. He gave us free will. We make our own decisions. So don’t blame God for your vote. You own it. If you chose to support a candidate because that person allegedly shares one key belief with you, that was your choice. If you couldn’t stand either major party candidate, but held your nose and voted for the lesser of two evils, so be it. The result turns out to be bad? That’s a horse on you, as I used to hear too often when playing bar dice in the days of my youth. God didn’t make the choice. You did. Accept the blame.

Maybe this is all a waste of time. Maybe the rancor that has grown in recent years cannot be pruned back again, even so modestly as to allow for these few wishes to be met. But while I wait in extreme anxiety for the election to be over, permit me at least to cling to hope.

Robert B. Simpson, a 28-year Infantry veteran who retired as a colonel at Fort Benning, is the author of “Through the Dark Waters: Searching for Hope and Courage.”