And Now We Wait: Reflections From the Day After the Election
Right now the CNN electoral map is flashing red and blue in my peripheral vision — as it has been for the past 16 hours. My roommates turned on the TV at 4 p.m. on Election Day, and we haven’t turned it off since.
I was hoping that this article would be my reflection on a stressful but decisive presidential election. That is clearly not the case. Instead I find myself in a high-stakes waiting game, glued to the TV by the same mixture of hope and anxiety I see reflected in my friends’ faces.
Yesterday morning, the mood was almost festive. I woke up to a dusting of powdery snow, and it was still snowing lightly when the polls opened at 7 a.m. The line snaking around Leverone Field House was a heartwarming display of college students and town residents bundled up in support of the democratic process. With my classes canceled and nothing to do but stay inside, it felt like how I — a southern California native — had always imagined high school snow days to be.
However, as the sun set and the televisions powered on, the atmosphere began to feel less than cozy. With the end of daylight savings time, the nights here already feel extra long. And as one CNN commentator put it, last night was a dark night for Democrats. Any hopes for a landslide were crushed early on, and the huge number of mail-in ballots ensured that final counts won’t be tallied until well after election night.
The razor-thin margins and prolonged ballot counting process have made the past 24 hours feel like they’re happening in slow motion. It’s as if the entire country is waiting for the other shoe to drop, and the consequences of what that shoe might be are almost too drastic for me to fully comprehend.
This is my first time voting in a presidential election, and it honestly feels like the world is ending. We are still in the throes of a global pandemic, people are disappearing from my college at an alarming rate and I almost feel like civil war could break out at any moment. I know that Obergefell v. Hodges has public support, but the recent Supreme Court confirmation has thrown even same-sex marriage into question.
I am happy that I was able to vote and make that vote count in New Hampshire. I am also hopeful about the eventual results of the 2020 presidential election.
However, I wish that the past 24 hours hadn’t felt so apocalyptic. I wish that this election didn’t feel like the moment right before a plane touches down, when every jolt or wobble reminds you that you’re flying at 300 miles an hour in a metal box — when you lose gravity for just long enough to get unsettled.
As of right now, it looks like the national plane is about to touch down. Despite impending legal battles and uncounted votes in a few key states, Biden has a relatively clear path forward.
Despite all this, I can’t shake the sensation of zero gravity. It feels like I’ve lost traction in the Dartmouth landscape that normally feels so comforting: Classes, friendships, student groups and even COVID-19 restrictions all feel scarily small amid a national moment that is so incredibly big.
A look around the house tells me that I’m not alone in feeling like this. Today, my roommates played cards, paced restlessly, stared at CNN and did almost anything besides buckle down on the Dartmouth grind. When our future is literally being determined by a map of red and blue states, it’s impossible to think about anything else.
On Election Day we voted, we showed up and we did our part. On election night, we realized the only thing we knew was that we didn’t know anything for sure. And now, we wait.
I just wish the waiting felt a little bit less like free fall.