peace and no civil war

THIS YEAR I TOOK IT upon myself to vote in the American presidential election. It was time to end the charades, the silliness, the scandal. I was tired of rioting, death, and pornographic actress intrigues, and yearned for the hand of some sturdy, stodgy lifelong political player to right the ship of state. Take the wheel, Biden, take the wheel and steer us back into the calm seas of unfulfilled political promises and soaring rhetoric based on some vague nostalgia for the Civil Rights Movement. 

For this has been the Democratic idea for what seems like my entire lifetime. They have been running on what has mostly been an empty tank, replaying the greatest hits of the Kennedys. Much is promised from year to year, but the best they can deliver seems to be peace and no civil war. Even in the now revered Obama age, the man himself appealed to America to reach for the stars, to achieve its own “Sputnik Moment.” Yet many Americans were not buying. 

The inspiring rhetoric and compromised projects led mostly nowhere.

Instead, it seems the whole country is drowning in seas of heavily armed, mentally confused vigilantes. A pirate crew of them was arrested recently for planning to kidnap the Democratic governor of Michigan. White supremacy, a simmering underground fire in recent years, has burst into white flames across the landscape. Even people who are not Europeans are getting in on it. Social media is soaking in sick deluges and torrents of propaganda. Hatred — of someone and preferably someone else — is the modern American business and business as of late has been good.

This is why it makes sense to vote for a rather average older gentleman from the State of Delaware. Delaware, the miniscule Atlantic state, among the most boring places in America. For in the hellfire of 2020, the Democrats’ boring promises of peace and no civil war actually sound pretty good. We must choose a boring peace, and at least delay or calm the ongoing internal divisions and strife that explode on a daily basis. There is an immediacy to voting in this strange year, a newfound urgency to stopping a narcissistic kleptocrat out to enrich his relatives and turn America into some kind of Latin American family dictatorship while the country suffocates under a pandemic and crackpot apocalyptic militias. The Trumps are to America what the Somozas were once to Nicaragua, watching the streets burn from the comfort of gilded toilets. 

So voting is the order of the day. Yet it was no easy task. First, I had to fill out a form online, print it out, sign it, date it, and mail it to my local board of elections in New York, where it apparently is still headed with an Estonian flag stamp affixed, one that I hope might arouse some wonder among the local officials. On top of that, I printed out my electronic ballot, marked the circles with a pen, and dispatched it. This process required me to resurrect some elementary school skills. The ballot was folded neatly inside a security envelope, which had to be signed and taped shut, which was then folded inside a mailing envelope, which also had to be sealed. Somehow Amazon had figured out how to confirm my order for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou with a simple five-digit code, yet the local Board of Elections required me to undertake this curious, Japanese origami-like art project.

I was undeterred.

Sitting there in a bookstore café, surrounded by pensioners sipping coffee, I had the sense that I was crafting a paper airplane, one I would soon let fly across the room where it might strike an unsuspected café patron in the eye as he was perusing the diaries of Johannes Käbin or Nasta’s new hot astrology book. Yet even these dinosaurs of the Sputnik era could vote in Estonia with their identity cards and a click or two. All they had to do was log in with Mobiil-ID and cast their votes for their politicians of choice. Yes, I thought. Yes, I will vote for peace and no civil war this time. But there is so much more to accomplish once we achieve our long-awaited return to normalcy.

An Estonian version of this article appears in the 24 October edition of Postimees.