Central New York Is Just Trying To Find Its Way

Election 2014 GOP Victory Party -I was at the Onondaga County Democratic headquarters at the Oncenter in 2014 when it was announced that Republican John Katko had unseated incumbent Dan Maffei for New York’s 24th Congressional district seat.

Wow, it flipped again, I thought. For the fourth election cycle in a row, the central New York region switched parties of their representative in Washington. After the 2010 congressional race took three weeks to decide the victor and the 2012 one lasted into the next day, I watched Maffei come in to give the third concession speech of his political career just two hours after the polls had closed.

After he left, I noticed Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner was standing near me, and after a bunch of other reporters had left her to try to make chase for Maffei, I asked her about the constant election fluctuation.

“I think what we’re seeing in this district is a bellwether for what’s going on around the country,” she told me. “You’re seeing the country kind of go back and forth as both parties struggle to find a message and a record of accomplishment.”

And she was right. Central New York had now become the swingiest district in the entire nation. And as I glanced at the only television in the room, I noticed that Republicans had taken the Senate and gained their largest majority in the House of Representatives in nearly a century — with Congressman-elect Katko among them.

Two years later, Katko has broken what I have called the “NY-24 curse” and become the first incumbent in the district to win re-election in 10 years. And he won it with 61 percent of the vote over Democratic challenger Colleen Deacon — an even bigger margin than he won by in 2014. Demographics, politics and history would’ve suggested a much closer or even opposite outcome. A Republican candidate hadn’t won the district during a presidential election year since 2004 — making Katko vulnerable right away. Voter turnout is also much higher in presidential years, meaning the race could be traditionally much tighter than it was in 2014. Then of course, there was the issue of Donald Trump at the top of the ticket for Katko’s party. But Katko came through with a very convincing win. How did he do it?

In the last two years, Katko has been sort of an ointment for what so many Americans are sick of — gridlock in Washington. Katko credited a broken Congress for his decision to run in 2014. But he didn’t go in and burn the house down. He went in seeking middle ground and compromise — the very ingredients that lead to progress.

And it appears that’s what he did. He broke with Republican Party leadership 19 percent of the time, earning him the label as the eighth most independent member of Congress. He mustered 15 bills through the House and six were signed into law by President Obama — the most of any freshman lawmaker since 1989. He acknowledges that climate change is real, opposes erasing the Affordable Care Act unless there is another system to replace it with and isn’t in favor of undoing Obama’s executive orders protecting young immigrants from deportation. He kept Trump’s candidacy at an arm’s length during his campaign, eventually saying he would not vote for him. He was even one of the few New York GOP representatives to be endorsed by The New York Times, saying “Washington needs more Republicans like him.”

That very moderate stance ended up working for him. The Siena College poll released weeks before the election found Katko leading by double digits and was favored by a majority of independents, half of women and nearly a quarter of registered Democrats. Clearly, Deacon’s persistent attempts to tie Katko to Trump weren’t effective. In the election, Katko comfortably carried the rural counties of the district that Trump won and beat Deacon by 19,000 votes in Onondaga County — where Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 13 points. Katko’s emphasis on local issues and moderate attitude seemed to have worked.

And maybe that’s what’s best for central New York. The region has been hit extraordinarily hard over the last 20 years and has seen some of the slowest economic recovery in the nation. Unemployment rates have somewhat stabilized lately — though Oswego County remains far above the national average. Syracuse ranks among the nation’s worst cities for economic growth and 31 percent of its population lives below the poverty line. And closures of factory giants that defined whole neighborhoods and cities have left large holes very hard to fill — be it Syracuse China in Salina or the Nestle plant in Fulton. And since the Great Recession took hold in 2008, the people of this community have been desperately looking for answers and looking for leaders who hold those answers.

Which is why the 24th congressional district has seesawed between parties and people. We’re not indecisive. We’re just simply trying to find our way. We’re experimenting — seeing what works and what doesn’t. As Mayor Miner told me, both parties are struggling to find a message that works. Maybe somewhere in between is the key. Obviously John Katko is no perfect person and doesn’t have all the answers, but more than enough people obviously thought his independent stance deserved him the chance to keep doing what he’s doing. It might be a sign that — while central New York is nowhere near where we would like it to be — we might be one tiny step closer.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at https://twitter.com/coolhand_luke88

Electoral College Is Likely Here to Stay

collegeFor the fifth time in American history — and the second time in just the last 16 years — an American president will have won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote of the people. And as it stands right now, Hillary Clinton holds a 1.5 million vote lead over Donald Trump — the largest margin ever by a candidate who didn’t win the presidency. And like 16 years ago, a conversation started the day after election night about whether the process should be abolished and that we should choose our presidents solely by popular vote. Even the president-elect, the beneficiary of the Electoral College’s greatest fault, said in an interview with 60 Minutes that he isn’t fully on-board with the system.

Some call it undemocratic or archaic. Sixty-three percent of Americans think we should get rid of it. So why do we still use it? Well, Alexander Hamilton called it “excellent.” Trump called it “a sham” in 2012 and “genius” in 2016. When it comes down to it, it is obviously problematic, but it is still the best system to use.

If there’s anything that’s not archaic, it’s that we are a politically and geographically diverse nation. We always have been. And the Electoral College keeps that in mind. We elect our president not by who wins the majority of votes, but by who wins a majority of votes in a majority of regions. The people of California are going to have different political beliefs and values than the people of Kansas. Those who live in New York have a different lifestyle than those who live in Arkansas. Shouldn’t someone running for the highest office in the land have to appeal to enough people with different ways of life?

If we changed to a popular vote system, Clinton would’ve campaigned in big cities in California and New York. Trump would’ve barnstormed across the populous areas of Texas and the Deep South. Key words here: Big cities, big states. More than 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas, according to the 2010 census. That’s where the votes are so that’s where candidates would go. They wouldn’t go to New Hampshire, which has a population of little more than one million. Trump wouldn’t go to Fletcher, North Carolina, a rural community along the Smokey Mountains. And Clinton wouldn’t have spent so much time campaigning in tiny Iowa.

But don’t candidates spend almost all of their time in only a handful of states now anyway? How is that different from a handful of cities? It’s true, a number of the so-called “swing states” determine the election. But swing states are always changing. Until 1992, California could be counted on as a solid Republican state. Until the 1980s, Texas was primarily Democratic. West Virginia is seen now as one of the most conservative states in the country — even though Ronald Reagan lost it once and Bill Clinton won it twice. States change. So candidate can never ignore one state too long. We saw that this time around as Trump pulled out wins in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, all of which a Republican hasn’t won in since the 1980s. Trump even came very close to winning Minnesota — which has the longest modern streak of voting for the Democratic candidate than any other state in the country — 44 years. On the other side of the coin, Trump appeared vulnerable in Georgia, Arizona and even Texas, all Republican strongholds. He won all of those, but by much smaller margins than past GOP candidates.

The Electoral College also provides a threshold that ensures a candidate wins a majority of the country, not just a plurality. Not many of our presidents in the last 50 years have won 50 percent of the popular vote or more. George W. Bush didn’t in 2000. Bill Clinton didn’t either time he was elected. Hillary Clinton and Trump won 48 percent and 47 percent of the vote respectively — so neither won a majority of voters. Through the Electoral College, Trump won because he won a majority of electoral votes and a majority of states.

Now, criticism of the Electoral College also stems from partisan politics, the argument being it’s good when you win and bad when you lose. We hardly ever hear cries to abolish it in a normal election. Coincidentally it has always been the Democrat who got the short end of the stick each time there’s been a popular and electoral vote split. So naturally it is the Democrats who have been ushering to abolish it. But in actuality, it is the Democrats who should love the Electoral College because in the 21st century, it’s much harder for Republicans to win the White House under this system. For the last 25 years, Democrats have had overwhelming control of the Northeast and West Coast, and until two weeks ago, the Upper Midwest. If Clinton had just held onto Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which she all lost by less than 70,000 votes, she would be the president-elect. If she had won those states, which are normally safe Democratic states, she wouldn’t have even needed to win Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Iowa or even Nevada to win the election. There’s a reason a 2013 column in The Daily Beast had the headline “Can a Republican Win 270 Electoral Votes in 2016…or Ever?”

But Trump did. Like him or hate him, he won the election fair and square. There are a lot of Clinton supporter critics of the Electoral College who are treating it like it’s an added bonus and, because Clinton won the popular vote, it means Trump doesn’t have a mandate or isn’t a legitimate president. He won the election. He won by the rules. That’s all the mandate he needs. If there’s anything undemocratic about the Electoral College, it’s the effort to take Trump’s votes away from him when the electors officially cast their votes in December, keeping him short of the 270 needed to win. A petition by Change.org, which 2.3 million people have signed, encourages Republican electors to ignore their states’ results and instead cast their vote for Clinton.

There is precedent for so-called “faithless electors” throughout history and there is no federal statute binding electors to the winner of the popular vote in their state. But only 157 have done so in our 240-year history and no amount of defectors has ever changed the outcome of an election. The Associated Press has yet to declare a winner in Michigan  but its 16 electoral votes will likely go to Trump, bringing his tally to 306 — meaning there would have to be at least 37 faithless electors. That is simply unrealistic.

If the Electoral College is ever abolished, it won’t be before Trump takes office. Both he and Clinton knew the rules going in. And you can’t decide to add extra innings when you’re three points behind at the bottom of the ninth. The system can be changed between now and the next election, but that seems very unlikely. It would require changes to the Constitution, which requires a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Congress, and then ratification by 38 states. And like in 2000, in which Clinton herself actually suggested scrapping it, the conversation about doing it will likely disappear as this election fades into memory. For now, it doesn’t look like we will be Electoral College dropouts any time soon.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at https://twitter.com/coolhand_luke88

The Democratic Party Is In Real Distress

democrat-donkey-pic-1It was almost too good to be true. A week and a half ago, there were two undeniable chieftains of the Democratic Party. One was the first African American president and the other was poised to become the first female president. And that first female president was all ready to reign over a Democratic Senate that would sweep into office by riding on her coattails. But as they say, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

Throughout the whole campaign, we constantly heard about how the Republicans were “a divided party” or “a fractured party” and how they’d have to do some serious soul searching after Donald Trump lost the election to Hillary Clinton. How the tides have turned.

Now it’s like Christmas morning for the Republicans. After months of post-election uncertainty, they got every gift they wanted — a Republican House, a Republican Senate and a Republican in the White House — who will then be able to appoint a Republican Supreme Court justice. As for the Democrats, it’s more like dusk on New Year’s Day. The fun festivities are over and now they face a long winter ahead.

And that winter will really sit in on Jan. 20. With Barack Obama out of office and the 25-year Clinton dynasty all but over, the party is virtually leaderless. Democrats have already begun the preliminary search for a presidential candidate in 2020. The party is full of experienced members with national name recognition. There’s only one problem. Those superstars — like the Clintons, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer — will all be in their 70s by then, and some closer to 80. Trump is already the oldest president ever elected. Sanders said recently he hasn’t ruled out a 2020 run, but also acknowledges he doesn’t know what the next four years will bring. He would be 79 at the time. It’s hard to find someone younger who has the experience and abilities to mount a convincing campaign.

Tim Kaine would only be in his early 60s, but would forever be scarred by 2016 — which is the first election he has ever lost. He also simply lacks the magic that Sanders or Obama had to be an inspiring candidate, just like his running mate. And she lost. Kaine is also not exactly embraced by the liberal wing of the party — which underscores the real problem Democrats have going forward.

Age is just a number. But numbers mean unity. Unity means votes. The cracks in the Democratic Party were severely underplayed in the primaries. Even with the “Bernie or Bust” and #DemExit movements, media pundits said over and over again that Sanders supporters would come around and vote for Clinton. Their reasoning was that the so-called PUMA movement did the same for Obama in 2008. But pundits failed to realize that this is not 2008 and Clinton is not Obama. The coalition of voters that got Obama elected twice just didn’t show up in the same numbers for Clinton. And now a good portion of the party is furious that Democratic leaders handpicked a candidate that couldn’t even beat Donald Trump.

That Sanders wing of the party is going to try to get a more progressive candidate on the ballot — but they’ll be working with a leadership that favored a Clinton nomination, which resulted in the resignation of the DNC chair, who was then replaced by someone who allegedly leaked a debate question to the Clinton campaign during the primaries. But the party establishment might warm up to a progressive because Sanders got the support of working class whites — the demographic that turned out in droves to vote against their 2016 nominee.

While a more progressive candidate might help Democrats retake the White House, it could potentially damage them further down-ballot. Obama rode into 2008 with a decisive victory for himself and Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. But his wave was short-lived. His lifetime achievement, the Affordable Care Act, gave rise to the Tea Party and swept 63 new Republicans into the House of Representatives in 2010 — the chamber’s biggest pickup since 1948. Obama won re-election in 2012 but Republicans retook the Senate in 2014 and gained their largest majority in the House since the 1920s. Also on Obama’s watch, Democrats lost a swath of governorship races and more than 900 state legislative seats.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, last week Obama witnessed his party lose Senate races in blue states and his heir apparent get beaten by the most unpopular person to ever run for president. And he watched all of this while sitting on a 56 percent approval rating.

Obama was popular and progressive, but the truth is his party was decimated throughout his presidency. He will leave office with Republicans in control of the executive and legislative branches of government, and roughly two-thirds of the country’s governorships and state legislatures. And in 2018, Senate Democrats will be on defense in five conservative states and a handful of swing states — and Democrats don’t do well in midterms.

Combined with the inevitable civil war within the party, the situation for the Democrats right now is bleak, to put it mildly. Party leaders insisted they were united after the primaries and will continue to say it now. But now they will have to figure out what kind of party they want to be. That’s the real donkey in the room now. And it’s not going away any time soon.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at https://twitter.com/coolhand_luke88

How Donald Trump Pulled It Off

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An election that came with a new surprise every day ended with the biggest one of them all, as Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States in one of the biggest political upsets of all time.

Even as national polls tightened in the final days, Trump’s chances of overtaking Hillary Clinton’s Electoral College advantage seemed nearly impossible according to nearly every media model, poll and pundit. FiveThirtyEight gave Clinton a 71 percent chance of winning. The Huffington Post gave her a 98 percent chance. After most states went their expected route as Tuesday night wore on, the key battleground states fell like dominoes one after another for Trump. Ohio, Florida, North Carolina and Iowa all turned red — severely narrowing and eventually cutting off any avenue to a Clinton victory.

So how did he do it? How did he sweep his way to the White House against all odds? And why didn’t we see it coming?

That right there is the first reason. No matter how many times we ended up being wrong, we underestimated Trump’s strength time and time again. From the beginning, no one could take him seriously. Heck, on the day he announced his candidacy, my newspaper never even ran a story on it. After joining a list of 16 other candidates, he surged to the top of the polls.

After every controversial statement he said, we thought he was done. Yet he remained. After every back story emerged that would sink any other candidate, he remained. After a movement in his own party spent millions of dollars to derail his campaign, he held firm. After a scathing review and utter dismissal on national TV from Mitt Romney, he didn’t budge. After we thought he could never win a primary, he won the first three in a row. After we thought he could only win so many, he won every state between New Hampshire to Louisiana. After we thought he had a ceiling, he won the New York primary with 60 percent of the vote. After we thought we would have a contested convention, he won the nomination. And after a tumultuous summer, lackluster debate performances and a swath of damaging October surprises, he left Clinton in the dust, causing the Democrats their largest electoral defeat since Mike Dukakis in 1988.

Trump hardly ever faltered because he developed an incredibly large and loyal base. While known for not being specific on policy, it is actually policy highlights that contributed to his success. His main talking point — building the wall — was actually only the fourth biggest issue for voters Tuesday, according to an ABC News poll. While his harsh stance on immigration earned him and a lot of his supporters criticism as being racist, xenophobic and bigots, the issue that won him over with so many Americans was the classic — jobs and the economy — which still ranked as voters’ top issue on Election Day. There are a lot of areas around the country that haven’t shared the fiscal improvement seen nationally that the federal government touts. And those people in those areas came out for Trump.

The economic pinpoint Trump latched onto and didn’t let go of was trade. Trump has been the unchallenged master of blaming trade deals like NAFTA for closing tens of thousands of factories and shipping jobs overseas over the last few decades, leaving the industrial heartland of the Great Lakes in economic shambles. He has often referenced Carrier air conditioner manufacturing leaving Indianapolis and Ford moving their small car production from Detroit to Mexico. While NAFTA is a vastly complicated affair regardimg its effects on outsourcing, 44 percent of Americans say the deal has been bad for the U.S. economy.

Trump’s constant rhetoric on trade deals and manufacturing job losses touched a sensitive nerve with white blue collar workers in some of the hardest hit areas of the Rust Belt. Many white working class counties in the upper Midwest that heavily voted for Barack Obama in 2012 voted for Trump. In Michigan alone, Trump flipped 12 counties that Obama won four years ago.

And let’s remember, Trump is not the only one that capitalized on trade deals. Bernie Sanders was the Democratic champion of Rust Belt blue collar workers. He was the pioneer opposition to Obama’s proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, an initiative Clinton called the “gold standard” but throughout the campaign said she opposed it. Sanders ended up winning Wisconsin and Michigan in the Democratic primaries, and as NBC’s Chuck Todd said at the time, those losses for Clinton were “not a red light, but a yellow flashing light.” But on Tuesday, the light didn’t just turn red. The road closed. Democrats often refer to the upper Midwest as their “blue wall,” but Trump’s trade message was able to not just crack it, but tear it down. He carried Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — states that Republicans haven’t won in generations. Those states, along with Ohio, are what put him over the top.

While trade served as an engine, Trump’s most obvious characteristic and appeal — that he was a Washington outsider — proved to be the wheels that drove those working class voters to the polls. For years, presidential candidates have thrown around that title, claiming themselves as one. But never holding any political office is as about as outside as you can get.

Again and again in the primaries, polls found voters wanted an outsider. Not because they were dissatisfied, but because they were downright furious at the federal government. They are mad that the U.S. seems to extend its hand to the rest of the world in a heart beat but leaves its own citizens out in the cold. They feel that Washington has asked everything of them, while giving nothing back. They feel that their representatives have spent too much time telling them what to do and too little time listening.

They are “the forgotten men and women” that Trump has talked about — whether it’s Columbiana County, Ohio, where a 42 percent manufacturing job loss in 14 years has left neighboring Youngstown a depressed shell, or McDowell County, West Virginia, where the life expectancy of adult men is on par with Ethiopia. Trump won both of those counties with nearly 70 percent of the vote.

Not all of them want to see walls built or entire groups of people banned. They want someone who isn’t part of the system because they are convinced that those who work in the Capitol have become completely disconnected with the struggles that middle class families endure day after day. And Trump’s opponent was everything he wasn’t. He was an outsider; she had been in politics for decades. She was a carefully spoken politician; he held nothing back. He had a populist backing; she was the symbol of the establishment.

To them, Trump was the solution. They voted for change in 2008 with Obama. In 2016, they voted for change again.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at https://twitter.com/coolhand_luke88

Voting Is Our First Responsibility and Our Last Defense

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There’s a great moment in the show The Newsroom, an HBO drama about the operations of a cable news organization. As the 2012 election night coverage is about to begin, the news director shows photos taken that day to his entire staff. “This is China. People have their picture taken pretending to cast a vote,” he says. “In India, they’re waving flags and having viewing parties to watch the coverage. In South Korea, they’re watching an election map, a mock ballot box in Senegal. And that’s our ambassador in Hungary having a pizza party. Our elections are the envy of the world.”

And he’s right. From London to Tokyo, to the heart of Africa, to the forgotten corners of our planet where people listen in via radio, our presidential elections are the world’s Super Bowl — which is why it’s so imperative that we be a part of them. Unfortunately, there are people in China and Senegal who will cast a pretend vote for a leader in a country they don’t even live in, but there are people in the United States that won’t even take the effort to drive a few miles or blocks to a poll to cast one themselves.

We try not to, but we do take democracy for granted more often than we realize. We the people have been electing our national leader for more than 200 years. Even in the 21st century, we still go to bed every night in a world where dictatorships still rule supreme and where many people in many different countries are still not allowed to vote.

And hey, nobody said we were perfect either. At the birth of our republic, only white men who owned property were permitted to vote. It would take almost another hundred years before every American man had the ability, and then another 50 years before the right extended to women.

But that’s why it matters so much to many of us. And why it should matter to all of us. The fact is, for the last few decades, only about half of people eligible to vote actually do so in presidential elections — and even less do in midterms. Why? There are a lot of reasons people say they don’t vote. But probably the most common one I hear is “because my vote doesn’t matter.”

Maybe you live in a state like California or Oklahoma, where we already know Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will win respectively. I live in New York. I’m well aware Clinton will win the state’s 29 electoral votes. But that doesn’t keep me from voting. There are more races than just the one for president after all. There’s every U.S. House seat and some Senate and gubernatorial seats up for grabs, as well as races for state legislators down to family court judge. And if we want to talk about votes not mattering, those races are far more likely to directly affect your life than the one for the Oval Office.

Others who don’t vote say it’s because our elections are really decided by powerful political parties, corporations and big money. And sadly, we do live in an age where dollar signs are playing an increasingly hostile role in the way we choose our leaders and how they act once they’re chosen. Be that as it may, money’s influence only goes so far.

I first voted in 2012. I remember it well. I went down to my local polling place, waited in line and filled out a ballot surrounded by cardboard walls. There was no money involved. There were no corporations hovering over my shoulder, dictating me who to vote for. For a few minutes, I had the power. I was the one who was determining the future of my government at every level. No matter how much big money dominates our politics, that voting booth is still controlled by the individual. And that will always be more powerful than the money in our politics.

But most importantly, voting isn’t just powerful. It’s personal. It’s ours. The talk of “strategic voting” that has been a part of this election for so long is completely contrary to the whole purpose of the process. A vote for Donald Trump is a vote for Hillary Clinton in November, is what Ted Cruz said throughout the primaries. A vote for Bernie Sanders on Nov. 8 will be a vote for Donald Trump, others claim. A vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein is a wasted vote, party members will chant.

What?

The freedom to vote also comes with the freedom to decide how to vote. “Vote your conscience,” Ted Cruz said at the Republican National Convention. While it received harsh criticism, it really can’t be said any better or more plainly. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. If you want to vote for Trump, fine. If you want to vote for Clinton, fine. If you want to vote for a third party candidate, go for it. But do it because that’s who you want, not what your party, friends, family or favorite actor wants, and definitely not who I want.

But what I do want is for you to vote. It’s not just the action of deciding who will represent you from the White House all the way down to your county courthouse. Voting is the act that defines democracy itself and the act that makes this country the wonderful place it is. As a citizen of that country, voting is our first responsibility and our last defense. Votes do matter. Votes do count. And a vote for someone you believe in is never a wasted vote. The only vote that’s ever wasted is the one that is never cast.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at https://twitter.com/coolhand_luke88

So, What Happens After the Election?

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 A Donald Trump supporter and protester quarrel at one of the Republican presidential nominee’s rallies earlier this year.

“I can’t wait until it’s over.”

That’s what I’ve been hearing a lot lately as this contentious election season enters the homestretch.

And I know I’m not alone. A lot of us yearn to return to the day when videos of heroic dogs re-conquer Facebook posts, when we can talk about something else at family gatherings and when the only person yelling “YUGE” on TV is Billy Fuccillo

And while the results on Nov. 8 will put an end to nearly two years of some of the most controversial and divisive politics in recent memory, Nov. 9 will be just the beginning of the next four years to come.

On that day, we will have elected one of the most unpopular presidents in history. It will either be Hillary Clinton, who in the eyes of many should be in prison, or Donald Trump, who some say will single–handedly bring about Armageddon. One has been accused of sexual harassment and the other is under FBI investigation. We don’t know yet who is going to win. But we do know this — someone is going to lose.

Half the country is going to wake up on Nov. 9 and discover that someone they despise is our next president. And what worries many is that some of those people will not just be disappointed by the results, but may very well refuse to accept them. An Oct. 21 Reuters-IPSOS poll found that 49 percent of Republicans would not accept the election outcome if Trump loses. Conversely, a third of Democrats would not accept a Clinton loss. And nearly the same number of both don’t expect the other side to concede gracefully if defeated.

This defiance, though probably not surprising coming from some voters, is surprising when it comes from one of the candidates. Trump’s declaration at the final presidential debate that he would keep the nation “in suspense” on whether he would accept the result of the democratic process is an unprecedented gesture. As debate moderator Chris Matthews pointed out, one of the traditions of our republic is the peaceful transition of power. Indeed, in every televised election we can remember, the loser, in the first sentence of their concession speech, has always congratulated the victor and said in some form that they look forward to working with the president-elect in future governing of the country.

But Trump’s nonstop talk of a system rigged against him has some concerned he may refuse to concede if Clinton is victorious. After all, when networks announced Mitt Romney had lost the election in 2012 when they called Ohio for President Obama, Trump went on a Twitter tantrum, calling the Electoral College “a disaster for a democracy … a total sham and a travesty” and then saying “We should have a revolution in this country!”

A similar response when he’s the one on the ballot has some fearing that mindset could funnel down to some of his supporters and translate into actual violence. A USA Today/Suffolk University poll found that 51 percent of likely voters are concerned about that. And who can blame them? A former Illinois congressman tweeted “if Trump loses, I’m grabbing my musket.” Candidates from around the country have received death threats or seen their property defaced, and a Republican campaign office in North Carolina was firebombed. With the destructive riots in Ferguson, Baltimore and Charlotte in our rearview mirror, many places are preparing for the worst. Schools from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Nebraska that serve as polling places on Nov. 8 have decided to cancel classes and poll workers in Colorado have undergone mass shooter training. While that may sound like an overreaction, we should remind ourselves that the election of our often-ranked best president resulted in half the country to secede.

Even if we come through the election unscathed, we almost certainly face a category 5 partisan hurricane no matter who gets elected. Depending on the outcome of majorities in Congress, a President Trump would likely roll up his sleeves and begin essentially erasing the Obama presidency. Undoing his executive orders on immigration, repealing the Affordable Care Act and tearing to shreds the Iran Nuclear Deal and Paris Climate Agreement are among Trump’s main objectives — all measures congressional Democrats would do what is necessary to preserve. Trump would also face opposition from the Republican establishment — especially on immigration issues and trade deals. I have little doubt it would take long for a conversation to start about getting rid of him at the first opportunity.

That conversation is already being entertained by conservative talk show hosts if Clinton is elected. The chances of the latest chaos involving the FBI’s probe being the reason for her defeat are dubious. But that doesn’t mean the issue is going to suddenly disappear once she is sworn in. Even if it is eventually resolved with no indictment, Republicans will hound Clinton round the clock about it as long as she holds office.

As restitution, a Clinton agenda could very well face the most obstruction we’ve seen since John Quincy Adams. Again, we’ve already seen the signs. Should the GOP hold the Senate, there is already talk — from Ted Cruz to John McCain — of stonewalling any Supreme Court justice pick Clinton makes, possibly leaving the court deadlocked for years. In that sense, we may be in store for the epitome of a national nightmare — where all the levels of our federal government are in crisis.

Perhaps most frightening of all is that 2016 may be the point of no return. If we don’t heal our wounds, bury the hatchet and come out united on the other side of this election, all future campaigns could look like this one — where insults, not issues, dominate debate. And scandals, not solutions, define our candidates.

So, don’t think this will all end on Nov. 8. It won’t. Nov. 9 is just another beginning. We just don’t know what it will be the beginning of.

Luke Parsnow is a copy editor and page designer at The Post-Star, a Pulitzer-Prize winning daily publication located in Glens Falls, New York. You can follow his blog “Things That Matter” by clicking “Follow” below and follow his updates on Twitter at https://twitter.com/coolhand_luke88