05 November 2020

Election week shorts

It's a very different U.S. presidential election experience this time than we had four years ago. For one thing, in 2016 we were living eight hours ahead of the USA's Eastern time zone, which meant that we did not learn the outcome until we were in the second period of our Wednesday morning teaching schedule.

(On second thought, maybe that's not a good comparison. In this year's election week, it's already Thursday, and we still don't know the 2020 results.)

Another difference: in 2016, almost all of our face-to-face social community was pro-Trump (and assumed we were, too). With some of our friends and colleagues, we had a lot of explaining to do. Now, thanks to the pandemic, we temporarily don't even have a face-to-face social community, but most people we're in daily contact with are not Trump supporters.

Election day itself was also very different. Four years ago, I was teaching a class at the Moscow Theological Seminary on election day. Now we're retired -- and on Tuesday we dealt with the stress of election-day suspense by going to the Oregon Zoo, where the residents were definitely able to take our minds off our anxieties: 


In a few days, or maybe even a matter of hours, we will know the 2020 results. A few minutes ago, I saw a video of today's White House press conference, and my mind flashed back to yet another election day -- November 4, 2008 -- and to John McCain's remarkable and historic concession speech.

"It's so interesting who's been elected U.S. president, I'm monitoring every channel, it's so hard to wait, ohhh, if they'd just announce the results already!"
"Here's what interests me: how much more of this I can take.Source.

Elections in USA: Will Trump or Biden win?
Elections in Russia: "I guess I'll choose Putin."
As I shake my head over the clumsy ways of USA elections, I have to remind myself that there are others in this world whose perspective is very different. 

For example, a few days ago I was speaking online with a group of Russians. I was bemoaning the potential dangers of a second Trump four-year term: "We'll be just another banana republic." One of the Russians smiled and said, in effect, "Welcome to the club." He must not be the only Russian who shares this perspective -- there's a theme going around the Russian Internet, which can best be summed up as "be glad you have any elections at all."

Here's an article on this Internet theme, with some bittersweet examples.

Speaking of Russia, here's an interview with Taisia Bekbulatova, founder of a new magazine dedicated to quality journalism in the distant regions beyond Moscow.

Stephen Bates on theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's timely pessimism.

Is it fair to call "make liberals cry again" the Battle Hymn of today's Republicans? (I wonder what Niebuhr would say about this question!)

The remarkable International Space Station celebrates twenty years of continuous human habitation. Robin McKie: Has it been worth it? Alice Gorman and Justin St P Walsh: the unromantic realities -- and the future -- of living in space.

Taj Mahal!

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