27 October

One Man’s Truth: Faith And Hope In The Worrying Time

by Jon Katz

For people inclined to worry, there is plenty to worry about. The election is a week away, the race is tightening in some key states (Pennsylvania especially), and many Democrats don’t have much faith in the polls after  2016.

That makes a bitter and unsettling campaign even harder to bear.

At this point, some worrying might be healthy for Democrats since it will encourage them to do something other than fret, like volunteer as a poll watcher, drive people to the polls, or make sure to vote.

For the worriers, I’d recommend an honest,  detailed, and thoughtful piece of writing in Politico; it’s by political writer Tim Alberta (he was around in 2016) called “One Last Funny Feeling About 2020.

It’s a brilliant piece of analysis.

“I’ve got one last funny feeling about 2020 to share,” he wrote, “and it won’t leave much doubt as to my expectations for November 3 and beyond.”

“This is nothing like 2016,” he added, and he explains why in persuasive and credible detail.

“The good news for Trump supporters,” writes Alberta, ” is that his position today is similar enough to the one he was in four years ago: trailing badly in the polls, largely left for dead, needing some electoral miracle to win the election. They saw him defy the odds once; because of that, he will do it again.

But, he added: The bad news for Trump supporters: 2020 is nothing like 2016. Amen to that.

If you want to understand the reality of this election, including the ghosts of 2016, I don’t believe you will ever read a better piece of political analysis and reporting than this one.

Understanding politics isn’t just about polls; it’s about observation, intuition, and gut feeling. I’m with Alberta and have been for months. And I’m not into wishful thinking. In my experience, worry and fear block perception and instinct.

The 2016 election has as much to do with this one as Australian weather forecasts.

It’s quite possible, says Alberta at the end of his piece, that the President will be victimized by his own kept promises; that some anti-abortion evangelicals who agonized over the decision to support him in 2016, and did so precisely because they worried about the future of the courts, can now in good conscience vote against him, or stay home, happy with the right’s takeover of the judiciary.

I was interested in reading that.

This was in part because today, I got an e-mail from an evangelical deacon in South Carolina who has been reading my rants against the evangelical movement for months.

‘You might be interested to know I never voted for  Trump. I voted for what he could do for our movement, and he has done it. I will never vote for him again. On election day, I’ll be praying for the unborn, not for the President.”

Biden’s speech in Georgia (see below) and the deacon’s message seemed important to me, they evoked a powerful image and feeling for me. Religion is playing a key role in America’s politics; Biden seems to understand that Trump can’t.

At FiveThirtyEight, polling wizard Nate Silver is worried about what it will mean to Biden’s campaign if he loses Pennsylvania.

In the meantime, Biden is favored to win the election. FiveThirtyEight simulated the election 40,000 times today to see who wins the most often. Their sample of 100 outcomes shows the range of scenarios their model thinks is possible. In those outcomes, Trump wins 12 out of 100 times, Biden wins 88 out of 100.

It is still possible for Trump to win? Of course.

Today, Biden traveled to Georgia to preach unity and healing. His trip there is significant as George is considered a solidly red state. His campaign senses an opportunity there. Recent polls show Biden and Trump, who won Georgia easily in 2016, in a dead heat.

That is shocking.

Democratic Presidential candidates haven’t campaigned there in decades.

I thought Biden gave an important speech in Georgia, one of his best. Biden, a practicing Catholic, referred to a recent encyclical from Pope Francis that he said, “warns us against this phony populism that appeals to “the basest and most selfish instincts.”

“The Bible tells us,” said Biden, “there is a time to break down and a time to build up. This is that time. God and history have called us to this moment and this mission.”

That is a powerful mission statement for a presidential candidate in American in the Fall of 2020. I think it’s the message many Americans are eager to hear.

Trump has nothing that comes close to it for inspiration or hope. Today, in front of a bloodthirsty rally in Michigan, he cast doubt on the plot to bomb Michigan’s governor while his followers chanted “lock her up.”

Trump loves playing the tough guy, but the women, the moderate and independent voters he needs so badly right now are feeling chills up and down their spine.

I have a gut feeling Biden will win Georgia.

He wouldn’t have gone there if he wasn’t pretty sure.

The New York Times reports today that overall,  the race appears stable; it doesn’t appear to have changed much this week at all. “There is not much data yet from polls conducted after the final presidential debate,” reports the paper today, “but what there is shows no real sign of movement. With the clock ticking down, that’s good news for Joseph R. Biden Jr. and unwelcome news for President Trump.”

According to the newspaper, Biden is ahead among likely voters by six points in Pennsylvania and nine points in Wisconsin. Both margins are beyond the margin of error.

So far, more than 65.5 million votes have already been cast around the United States, surpassing the 58.3 million total pre-election votes cast in 2016. Put another way, that’s just about half of the total presidential votes cast four years ago.

According to election officials around the country, early voters are young, more racially diverse, and more likely to be Democratic than they were in advance of the 2016 election in the key states expected to decide the election.

Trump has awakened the women’s movement, Metoo, Black Lives Matter, journalism, and early voting data suggests he is finally drawing the young into national politics.

That difference is backed up by some new data: 2020 is already a record-shattering year for early voting among young people. Early voting among people aged 18 to 29 is up across the 14 critical states, according to data from Catalist, a company that provides data, analytics, and other services to politicians,  academics and is providing insights into who is voting before November.
Polling has found that Republicans are much more likely to say they prefer to vote on Election Day this year. If that happens, they could match or even outdo the march of the young.

I hope to be spiritual, not a religious person, and  I believe hope and faith can generate a powerful energy field. I see reasons for hope all around me. The election is listening.

They are sitting right there out in plain sight, the curtain of fear and gloom the only thing that keeps us from seeing them and cheering them.


  1. Only in darkness do we see the stars and appreciate and long for light – the light that offers us hope and warms our hearts. Every single day of the four-Trump-years of darkness has been a longing to reach out for that light.
    The people have the power to bring that transformation and we, from across the Atlantic, can only hope that light will be the reality that we wake up to on 4th of November. God bless the people of the USA.

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