The end of a presidential campaign is always a nasty thing. Wanting to leave no political attack un-launched, both sides tend to drop as much opposition research as they can onto their opponent right before voters got to the polls to pick the next leader of the country.
And because we are dealing with Donald Trump, all of that normal end-of-campaign stuff has been made much, much worse. Trump is at the say-anything-and-do-anything stage of the campaign – particularly as polling suggests he is a clear underdog in Tuesday’s election.
Amid all of the darkness and terrible-ness (not a word, but you get the point) I’m here to offer you a reminder that not everything is, in fact, totally awful. And that politics can sometimes be a noble pursuit taken on by people committed to public service.
Which brings me to an ad that Minnesota Democratic Gov. Tim Walz who posted on his Twitter feed on Thursday. It features Walz as well as his three most recent predecessors in the job, Mark Dayton, Jesse Ventura and Tim Pawlenty – urging Minnesotans to vote.
That’s four governors from three different parties(!) making a call for call for calm and civility in this wildest of moments.
The four governors assured Minnesotans that a delay in announcing a winner is a) expected and b) proof the system is working. (Contrast that with President Trump’s repeated insistence that the election “should END on November 3rd,” like he tweeted on Friday).
“Our state is proud to have one of the safest and most secure election systems in the country,” says former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
“You can have faith that your vote will be counted,” says former Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton.
“With so many of us voting by mail, it may take a little longer to verify a winner,” says Walz.
“And that’s OK. It’s by design,” says Pawlenty.
“A delay just means that our system is working and that we’re counting every single ballot,” says former Reform Party governor Jesse Ventura.
Imagine that. Political leaders – both current and former – acting like, well, leaders. Educating the public rather than trying to skew reality for their own political benefit. (Worth noting: All four governors are shown walking in with their masks on, and putting them back on ant the end of the video.)
That a message like this feels so stunning and so different serves as a reminder of just how far Trump – and his decidedly unpresidential approach to the presidency – has changed our expectations from our leaders over these past four years. It was once common ground for politicians of all stripes to urge citizens to a) vote and b) know that their vote was fairly counted. Trump has chosen, for political reasons, to make war on that most basic of democratic assumptions as well as virtually every other “norm” including the guidelines set to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
“25,000, people want to be there, and they say you can only have 250 people, so they thought I’d cancel,” Trump carped on Friday about a campaign rally in, you guess it, Minnesota. “But I’m not canceling.”
Politics doesn’t have to be utterly awful and soul-crushing. It can be unified and, dare I say it, uplifting. Watch the Minnesota governors’ ad. And remember how things once were – and could be again.