Today has finally come, to the relief - and anguished nervousness - of what surely seems to be the majority of the country. One way or another, states will use Election Day voting results to assign Electors and resolve any potential conflicts in the assigning of Electors by December 13, the Electors will meet in their respective states to vote on the new President on December 19, the results will be counted by Congress and announced by the Vice President on January 6, and (unless there is no clear victor and the election is thrown to the House for the Presidential election, selecting from the top three finishers, and the Senate for the Vice Presidential election, selecting from the top two finishers) the new President will be sworn in on January 20.
As a P.S. and for those who may not know, as we discussed in last week’s Current Events and Social Justice Lunch, Maine and Nebraska are the only two states that do not use a winner-take-all system in assigning electoral votes. In both states, the winner of the statewide popular vote wins the two electors assigned to the state based on their representation in the Senate. In both states, the remaining electors are assigned by Congressional district, with the winner of the popular vote for each district winning the elector assigned to that district.
As an additional P.S. and for those who may not know, the National Popular Vote bill would designate the winner of the election based on national results. States that have signed on to the bill (including Massachusetts) have agreed to assign all their electors to the winner of the national popular vote regardless of how people voted within their state. The bill does not take effect until states whose Electoral College votes total 270 or more sign on. The count currently stands at 165.
So that’s how things currently work and may work in the future. To sum up, it appears that our next President could conceivably be (alphabetically) Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson (but only if the election is thrown to the House and they choose him), or Donald Trump. Whoever wins, their inauguration is bound to provoke wide-ranging reactions in various constituencies, from wild cheering to quiet relief to reluctant acceptance to deep depression.
The deeper question nearly everyone is asking is, how can we find a way to come together after such an emotional campaign?
In my advisory two weeks ago, we did an exercise (originally planned by the History Department for the October 20 Formal Dinner but which I postponed to give us a chance to dig deeper) where the kids and I ranked a number of values (freedom, security, equality, etc.) from most to least important as we thought about which political positions we hold, which candidates we support, and why. All of us valued highly and noted the close relationship between equality and security. Some of us saw equality as a necessary pre-condition to security, others security as a necessary pre-condition to equality, but the importance of both was felt by all of us as a shared value.
Those of us in the Stoneleigh-Burnham community can look to our shared values (held by a good many people outside our community, too) - valuing girls’ and women’s voices, being our best authentic selves, learning about and working from a global perspective, working to bring about equity. All these values are timeless and are shared by multiple political perspectives. All these values look to community, to love and respect, to constant and daily work to build a better world. We’ve been doing this work since the founding of the school, and we will be doing it for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps, then, one way out of our current partisan divide might lie in the conversations held and the actions taken as part of that daily work. I believe we all seek greater equity even as we may see different paths as being more or less promising. With that fundamental goal in mind, perhaps we can also agree on the fundamental need for kindness and respect. In those conversations and those shared values, we as a country may yet find a way to come together.