It’s the end of the game, the ninth inning of the World Series, the last two minutes of the Super Bowl. The efforts of thousands and thousands of Americans and millions and millions—if not even several billion—dollars have been spent to pick our leader for the next four years. It is now all about to be revealed, we hope. I’m encouraged by the vast turnout of voters, in every state in every precinct, because it means that Americans still believe in and trust the process. Voting is the cornerstone of our republic, and the orderly transition of power has been an American tradition for almost 250 years. It appears that more people will vote in this election than have ever voted in a presidential election before this. It’s not surprising. Everyone I’ve talked to, whether a Biden supporter or a Trump supporter, believes this is a critical moment in the history of our country, and the wrong winner will mean Armageddon, the end of the America we know. What will happen when one half of the country believes the wrong person has won, I simply don’t know; we will just have to wait and see.
How did we get here to this strange set of circumstances? I believe that for the first time, many Americans truly are questioning whether our country can survive as a democratic republic. If Trump has done anything, he’s shown that many of the things that we took for granted, like that the president would try and act in the best interest of the entire country, just aren’t so. It turns out it was a myth. Republics die, typically not from outside forces but much more often from within. They break into factions, and the factions grow further and further apart until it turns into civil war. We’ve been through this before and the Civil War almost destroyed our Republic. It is absolutely clear that our congress can’t seem to agree on anything. Being a Democrat or a Republican has become tribal and those differences make it impossible for us to work together or solve problems. That creates a power vacuum and there are always others ready to step in, primarily the president or even the supreme court. Let’s try and stay optimistic and hope this country can fix itself.
Meanwhile, we are going to stay up late and hold our front page as long as possible. Hopefully, depending on the workload of the LA County Registrar of Voters, we will have some local results like the Malibu race for city council and some of the ballot propositions. Many of those races are already being counted and, when the polls close at 8 p.m., we might start getting some local results.
A lot of other things are going to be decided in this election. On a state level, governorships and state legislatures are going to be elected. This year is particularly important because the new groups are going to be doing the reapportionment in each state, and there are lots of ways to draw the lines to help one party or to hinder the other. That’s why the census was so important. The candidates on the top of the ticket generally have an effect all the way down the ticket. In California, which is a strongly Democratic state, Trump (predictably) will not run well and Republican candidates for congress or state office will have tougher time because there will be no coattails to ride. It may also affect Republican voter turnout because some Republican voters say, “Why bother? He’s not going to win.” On the other hand, in a state like Texas, or even Florida, where Trump is in the running and maybe even leading, Republican voters will be out in force.
This election has pointed out something we already knew, and that is that the electoral college is a disaster. In most every state, the electoral college is winner-take-all. The effect of that is that if you’re a Republican voting in California, your vote for Trump is meaningless—the same if you’re a Democrat voting for Biden in Texas; typically, your vote would be meaningless. Some are predicting that Texas might flip, but I think that’s just Democratic wishful thinking. The political map changes very slowly. You’ll notice that most all of the battleground states in 2020 are almost the same ones that were battleground states in 2016 and before that in 2012 and so on. The country does change, but very slowly.
I can only hope that we have a clear winner—the quicker the better—and civility is maintained.
Locally, Malibu has been trying for the last five years to get its own school district. We have been going through a long, drawn-out process of trying to come to a divorce settlement with both the school district and also the City of Santa Monica, which gives quite a bit of money to the school district. It’s like any big-dollar divorce. We are fighting over alimony and child support and negotiations have totally collapsed. In today’s paper, there are letters from Craig Foster, Malibu’s only school board member; Reva Feldman, our city manager; and the school superintendent, Dr. Ben Drati. Drati’s letter is a statement of the school board opinion. Essentially, what the school board wanted was roughly 50 years of alimony from Malibu, which totaled up to about $4 billion, a bit more than we intended to pay for our freedom. So, we are going down a different path. If we win, we will be free, and if not, the School District is going to be stuck with 15-20 percent of their district, meaning us, in a constant state of mutiny.