Upside: Our election system worked | Three Things Thursday

Unite America

Living in a post-election world certainly is something, isn’t it? 

This week, we’re seeing more and more that it’s not only the functional mechanisms of democracy that matter, but also that those participating have to believe in democracy as well. 

Without proper maintenance, our democracy can crumble. It’s the doom loop. And it’s getting worse. 

Here are three things to think about this week: 

  1. Our elections went well!

There was a lot to be nervous about as we prepared for this year’s election; a global pandemic, new voting rules, foreign interference caused many — including yours truly — to be concerned with whether our voting system could handle the many stresses. 

A week later, we can say with some confidence: it did. Thanks to countless election administrators, volunteers, and poll workers, the 2020 Presidential election saw more Americans vote than ever before, during a nationwide pandemic, amidst attacks and distractions from politicians. The New York Times this week unwraps how we, as Americans, came together to pull off this unprecedented election. 

From the article: “It could easily have been a total train wreck,” said Michael Morley, a law professor at Florida State University who served in the George W. Bush administration. “Instead, we can be proud about how well our election officials conducted this election under extremely adverse circumstances.

  1. What does the future of reform look like? 

Nevertheless, we must continue to look ahead; this week Unite America Executive Director Nick Troiano and advisor Ron Fournier write in Real Clear Politics about the future Americans face and the pathways we have to look forward to — if we choose reform, rather than retribution, as our next chapter. 

“The next few years could be an era of post-Trump political reform, but only if we refuse to surrender to partisanship and cynicism,” they write, “and recognize that reform is already gaining momentum at the state level. Reform isn’t naïve; it’s doable and politically advantageous for both Republicans and Democrats in Washington.”

It’s a new chapter of American politics we’re opening, after a loop of partisanship and dysfunction that’s left us divided and bruised. Reform offers a way forward that improves our politics, changes the incentives for our leaders, and makes a healthier civic society for us all. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again. The only question is, will we?


  1. It’s not a Red-Blue divide

Do you live in a red state or a blue state? Over the last few weeks, we’ve been bombarded with brightly colored maps that draw clear distinctions between the left and the right, states that vote Democrat versus states that vote Republican. States like New York and California are proclaimed to be liberal havens, while Oklahoma and Louisiana are conservative through and through. 

But as I’m sure you know, looking around in your state, it’s not that simple. In between red and blue, it turns out there’s a lot of purple. Being a “blue” state doesn’t make the state blue, especially if 40+ percent of voters might have voted red. A new map shows just how inaccurate the red/ blue maps are. 

The Purple States of America project shows the broader nuance of a states’ electorate. As Americans we don’t live in homogeneous enclaves; we live with each other and amongst each other. When we start “othering” one another, it becomes less about being a United states, and more about being competing ones. Now more than ever, we have to stand united. 

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