By Bixyl Shuftan
Tuesday November 3, 2020 was Election Day in the United States, and the culmination of America's Presidential election. For almost a year and a half, it had been going on. For the Republicans, the incumbent Donald Trump was practically uncontested in the primary season despite his highly controversial manner and actions, as well as being impeached. For the Democrats, out of over two dozen candidates whom ran for their parties nomination, it was former Vice President Joe Biden whom would represent his party. After March, the election was under the shadow of the Coronavirus Pandemic, which could make campaigning tricky for those following safety guidelines. There were also a number of demonstrations following the death of a man in police custody that led to the toppling of Civil War and other historical statues. Due in part to the Pandemic, Biden was leading in the polls and was expected to win handily. FiveThirtyEight, one noted polling website, gave Trump only a ten percent chance of winning outright.
Dropping by the Election Simulator on Monday night, it's builder Duncan (ABoysPlaceMall Resident), told me the following day once it was getting close to time polls were closing, he would stop the machine's usual operation, "I've decided at 2pm SLT, I'll shut off the simulator, since it starts at 5pm EST. So seems like a good time to turn off the simulations and turn on reality." When I asked him about people interested in the election coming to hang out here, "I didn't really have a plan for Election Night. But so many people told me they would be here. It doesn't feel right to just, let it become anarchy. I've rescripted the big board, so now I can manually adjust the states. ... I haven't figured out how I'll manage the scoreboard yet." When I commented that the results should be interesting, Duncan sighed, "'interesting' is kind of the great non-word of the English language, sort of a fancy way to say 'um.'" Someone else asked how busy he was. Duncan answered, "Mostly just keeping the trolls at bay."
Duncan did mention something to me in IMs. The Election Simulator is on the mainland next to a highway. And at one point earlier in the day, a number of Trump supporters in trucks with flags proudly proclaiming their support drove up and stopped on the road by the location. Duncan was not amused, and responded by placing a wall between the road and the simulator building.
Hamlet Au would call the Anti-Trump display not safe for work unless one works at an adult toys factory. One person had put up a sign that to me looked like it was against both sides, "glad I don't live at ground level of a sim with the trash lagging everything out. I'll vote for whoever gets rid of you people."
Someone whom had also come from the Election Simulator commented, "the states that are projected are 94 to 72 for Biden. ... I think Biden will have enough states projected by Tomorrow morning to get him over 270." Someone else urged caution, "Remember, right now we are at the point where hillary supporters went to bed thinking they would win in 2016."
Some of the Democrats made obvious partisan remarks, "All I know is, if trump wins, America is forever lost. Trump would have successfully poisoned the thinking in this country. ... Never though USA would succumb to fascism." "It's getting scarier and scarier. "
having on a Trump avatar and doing parody imitations of him, "I am a misogynistic, pathetic, racist liar. And I still get votes. What a life." "It is a deep expression of their self loathing," one Democrat commented, having trouble understanding why anyone would vote for the other major candidate. When I commented I had friends on both sides of the political divide, Book Island's manager Selina Greene nodded, "I think we're all in the same camp here, but I'm sure we all know some on the other side of the divide." Someone just wanted the whole thing to be over, "GAME! Name a movie more cheerful than this election. I'll go first: '28 Days Later.'"
waifu pillows" of the President for people to hug. It seems like four years ago, Trump is attracting some anime fans. Chatting with one Democrat in IMs, it was brought up the pillow could easily be repurposed as a punching bag. I did see one woman in a Japanese outfit briefly hold a Biden flag. No one out in the open gave her trouble over it.
I headed back to Blue Revolution. Some were poking fun at the opposition, "Trump literally said 'poles are closed' like a pole instead of poll." "Votes won't be counted after the polls closed. Well Trump, cause they ain't." "Hahaha he really needs an education." Others were more critical of the election situation in general, "it bugs me how this 'WIN at all cost' mentality is accepted as an American value." Another nodded, "It is this winner and loser mentality. Everyone offers something different, and when it is all about winning we lose the meaning. And integrity is SUPPOSED to be the meaning of America, but (we) have forgotten that." And some were just there for the fishing game, "Thanks for the fishes and the generosity!"
That was the extent of my experience at the election-themed places and Book Island that night. The Election Simulator would eventually go offline and remain so until I logged off, The Happy Vixen would hold a party in honor of the voters, "Red White and Blue." But the people were asked not to bring up politics. The intent of the party was to get people to relax and have fun, not stress people out and fight.
The following day, I would check back at the Election Simulator and Duncan. In IMs, he commented that while his location might not have openly supported either candidate, he felt not everyone might consider him a truly neutral party. Out in the open after I greeted him, I asked how Election Night went. "Well, it was, stressful," he commented, "I think the simulator was helpful in grounding the tension in something familiar. The final result we saw was roughly in line with the bulk of projections that the simulator has run. It wasn't a maximalist landslide, but a strong Biden win on a pretty solid Trump result. If anything the non-mutual dependence of my approach even seems to have been reasonably vindicated. Arizona didn't move in lockstep with Texas and Florida. Ohio diverged from the rest of the upper midwest."
Several states had yet to be called, Arizona, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, and Alaska. So I asked, "Considering the states still to be determined, who do you think will win, and how long might it take?" Duncan answered, "Biden has pretty much won. some networks have already called Arizona for Biden but I'm using NBC which has not. It's a controversial call but Biden is a strong favorite there. Also, the numbers in Pennsylvania look like they clearly favor Biden. The GOP blocked counting early votes until after the election, so that means all the uncounted votes are concentrated in the cities. Given the number of votes outstanding and the partisan leaning of the manner and place in which they were cast, I mean it's possible Trump will win in the end, but incredibly unlikely. Democrats were confident early on that they'd made their numbers there and all the evidence I've seen suggests they did. Nevada and Georgia similarly had part of their vote counting stymied, but it's not really a question how they'll turn out."
"There was a protest in Michigan today to try and stop the vote counting. But again, too late. The votes are already counted. If they stop now, they lose. If they keep counting, they lose more. So if they want to convert this into something that looks like a win they have to find a way to overturn a count. Which, from the outset, I argued was outside the scope of my modeling. I can't predict how that kind of unprecedented power politics is going to play out. To me it's unquestionably a coup to overturn an election and hold onto power despite losing it."
Someone else entered the conversation this time, and there was some general conversation for a while, but eventually other matters required my attention, and bade them good evening and departed.
Compared to previous elections I've seen after 2000, the reaction was more gradual and slow motion. With no winner declared election night, the comments I saw on social media were a mix of cautious optimism and anxiety. As states were declared for Biden, there was some anger expressed from Trump supporters and hope from Biden's. On Friday when it was becoming clear Biden was about to get it, there was more celebratory feelings from Dem voters and more anger from Trump's. After enough states were declared for Biden on Friday evening, finally the Democrats (and probably a few anti-Trump conservatives) were in a celebatory mood in social media. From Populist voters, there was either silence, or calls for resistance, feeling the other side had cheated and the election was being stolen from them. They wanted recounts and/or the results contested in court, and what they saw as the cheating done by the opposition exposed. A few people on both sides made note about the Senate remaining with a Republican majority and the House with a smaller majority. But most were focused on the Presidency.
Not unlike things in 2000, it looks like this election will take time to truly resolve. Despite pleas from some Republicans to accept the results, the Trump Administration seems determined to demand recounts and/or take things to court in several states. But it's highly unlikely the courts will do much of anything. While also not unlike 2000 some supporters of the incumbent will continue to insist the election was "stolen" and nurse the grudge for years (if not their entire lives), the winner from the opposition party will be sworn President in January.
This election is different from other Democratic Presidential victories. In 1992 and 2008, many Dems called that election the start of a brand new era in which they would be in charge for well over a generation. This time, while some are calling Trump a fluke and the future is theirs, it looks like more of them are talking about "healing" and bridging the political divide. This time, the majority of them realize the conservatives and populists are not going away.
For the Republicans, the party may be in for a power struggle. There are those whom prefer economic libertarianism, and there are those whom want "fair trade" and policies that favor traditional industries. There are those whom want more "compassionate conservativism" and those whom feel the government would screw up in expanding social safety nets. There are those whom want to see America continue to be the leader of the free world, and there are those who feel America needs to let it's fellow democracies take care of themselves and focus more on internal matters.
While the more political and news-minded among us will likely be discussing the election for the next several weeks, for most of us it's over and time to get back to our Second Lives.