‘Who Won?’ It’s The Wrong Question.
Somehow over the last two decades, I’ve come to think of the wee hours of the night as our time to savor being American. Year after year, our family participates in the important events of our heritage while the rest of Europe sleeps. Super Bowl parties that begin at 1:00 in the morning, US Olympic events in the middle of the night, waking up at 3 to hear a new album being dropped, and laboring through the night for presidential elections. Lexi has this vivid memory, she says, of waking up as a little girl of 12 to find Jay asleep on the floor in our apartment in Sofia, Bulgaria. ‘Who won, Dad?’ It was election 2000, the infamous ‘chads’ debacle, he, of course, had no answer for her budding political mind. Rather than inconveniences, the middle of the night participation in these things ‘American’ has caused us to savor them as the precious pieces of our culture that they are.
When it became clear that my fellow Americans would go to bed on this election night with no results but many questions and impending and evolving controversies, I posted on facebook. ‘Americans in America — sleep well … Americans in Europe will watch the election while you sleep.’ Maybe it sounds silly, but I got choked up as I pressed, ‘send’. There is both privilege and responsibility in what it means to be an American and I felt all of the feels as my post whirred into the globally digital memo board on Tuesday night in the USA.
It’s Thursday now and I’m still on election ‘watch’ in Poland with the tv on in the background as my fellow Americans in America begin their second post-election morning. The final results are still pending. The controversies increase. And the days that come will, most probably, be fraught with much of what we feared: protests and legal battles, and posts that forget what it means to be civil with one another.
In the midst of a pandemic that forces us into painful physical distance, would you allow me to remind us to savor and to protect that which unites us as Americans and to reject that which divides us? We have the right to cast our vote, the expectation of a peaceful transition of power, the security of a balanced government on behalf of the people, for…