By Gabriel Green, Marketing Assistant at State Policy Network
Like many in the country, I have felt more fear than normal as I have experienced the turbulence of 2020 and election-related uncertainties. However, as the election has approached, I have grown more optimistic. Reflecting on the wisdom of our Founders, I am confident the United States will weather the coming days, months, and decades.
Here are three reasons you should take the 2020 presidential election in stride, regardless of who wins, and channel your energy towards the many opportunities for change.
The telegraph was invented in 1843, but it wasn’t until the 1850s that it reached coast-to-coast. The American Founders could not predict the invention of the telegraph, much less modern tools, and so we have a custom of inaugurating presidents on January 20, not November 4.
All of this to say, it used to take weeks for election results to arrive.
It would be foolish, though, to think technological differences are the only reason for this designed delay. Our era of instant communication lulls us into thinking we should be able to declare winners on election night, but even if we could know the results on Election Day, our Founders knew a transition period was essential to maintain the Republic.
A transition period serves as a crucial role in offering time for the nation to heal and reunite after election cycles, so that by the time policies are passed, they are on behalf of all Americans and not just the “winning team.” Furthermore, when our system is working properly, the transition period allows incumbents to welcome new officials and catch them up, so nothing falls through the cracks in the early days of new administrations and legislatures.
So, before you panic, remember delayed election results are the norm—even in 2020.
Social media, the news, and definitely the 2020 presidential candidates are talking about the election outcome as if all our hopes for a bright future are based on one man. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. While the outcome of the presidential election will have an impact on federal government policies and regulations, our hope for meaningful change has always been at the local level.
When Washington attempts to fix problems, progress is slow because it is trying to find a single solution that accommodates all 357 million+ residents. And when solutions are decided thousands of miles away from where the impact of those decisions is felt, it’s a lot harder to tell what is and isn’t working.
The best single solution is several solutions, enacted at the state and local level.
Our Founders knew this, which is why they designed a system that pushes problem-solving to the most local level of government possible, empowering the people closest to the problem to determine a solution that will best fit their needs. Unfortunately, as a nation we increasingly seek these localized solutions from those who are farthest from the problems we’re facing.
On top of that, by making every problem a federal issue, the stakes get raised immensely. A bad policy in one state, while never a good thing, doesn’t mean that all Americans suffer. If the federal government passes a bad law, we all suffer. And so, we find ourselves getting more heated about and divided by politics because people fear for their lives and livelihoods if the “other side” wins. The best way to overcome political divides is to leave change up to states and cities.
Our lives are lived in our communities, not in DC, and our solutions should start in those communities.
If the ultimate outcome of the election has you outraged or despondent, take comfort that you’ll be able to take action and try again within two to four years. While that may feel like an eternity, in actuality, it’s not that long—just long enough to find and champion new candidates that support your vision for promoting human flourishing across America.
Put your fears around the election in their proper place and focus on what every one of us can do immediately to begin fixing our country’s problems: pursue well-reasoned solutions at the state level that will empower all Americans to live better lives.