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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

On My Mind: A Night In Limbo

This is the kind of night that makes your stomach hurt.


I’m writing just before midnight on Election Day, and we know a lot of things locally but not much at all nationally. We still do not know who is going to be president, and we won’t know until the votes come in from Detroit and Philly and Iowa and Nebraska.

A lot of pollsters and political analysts predicted this very thing. We shouldn’t be surprised that we won’t know who won until Wednesday or even later.

These days we are so used to instant information – calling up any fact in the world with the tap of a few keys – that a night like this breaks our brains. It was always going to be impossible to count this many votes in one day, with so many people voting early and by mail, and laws in some states that don’t allow early votes to be counted until the polls close. And in a close race, that means we don’t have a verdict.

But none of that makes the feeling any easier. It’s like when the football game with your biggest rival goes into overtime, and it feels like joy is no longer an option – it’s either despair or relief.

All the supposed swing states in the South – Georgia, Florida, Texas, and here in North Carolina – appear to have gone for President Trump.

And it looks like he helped carry some of his followers across the finish line. Lindsey Graham held onto his Senate seat in South Carolina despite Jaime Harrison outspending him by millions. Madison Cawthorn, at 25 years old, became the youngest member of Congress by winning his House seat in the North Carolina mountains. His first tweet as a Congressman-elect: “Cry more, lib.” He’s gonna be a treat.

It also appears that Sen. Thom Tillis beat his Democratic challenger, Cal Cunningham. Although it’s more accurate to say that Cal Cunningham lost to Thom Tillis. Cunningham was leading in most of the polls for most of the race until he admitted having an affair. We’ll never know if he would’ve won. What we do know is that he can get in that long line of politicians who ruined their careers by jumping in the wrong bed. Maybe he and John Edwards can have a beer sometime.

It’s late, and everybody’s tired, and I’m not sure it makes any sense to draw any conclusions from this day. But here’s one anyway: Our divided country isn’t patching things up anytime soon.

I thought it was possible that enough Trump supporters would turn into former Trump supporters to give Joe Biden a comfortable margin, and our country a clearer direction. But it’s going to be a rock fight once again, and everybody’s calling their lawyers, and in the end one side might be happy but nobody’s going to be satisfied. Or at least that’s what it feels like around midnight in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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