The Morning After

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“There’s got be a morning after.”

That’s the opening line from “The Morning After,” a summer of 1973 chart-topping pop song sung by Maureen McGovern. Previously, “The Morning After” had already won the 1972 Academy Award for Best Original Song. 

The title and lyric provide a realistic way to look at this election — or any election, for that matter. 

Regardless of how all-important it seems during the campaign, every election day is inevitably followed by a “morning after.” This year, the morning after falls on Wednesday, November 4. Despite the fear-mongering by liberals about phony ginned-up “threats to democracy,” every election in American history has been duly followed in coming years by more and still more elections. And 2020 will be no exception to that iron-clad rule.

So while in the heat of the campaign, one may catch the feeling that “this is the most important election ever” or this is “the election to end all elections,” the reality soon bypasses the hopes and fears of voters and the over-heated rhetoric by partisans and commentators. 

Oddly enough, an iconoclastic National Football League running back put our quadrennial presidential dilemma into perspective back in 1972, when commenting about the Super Bowl. The Dallas Cowboys star running back Duane Thomas was asked how he felt playing in the “ultimate game.” With the most pithy and brilliant response in sports history, Thomas asked, “If it’s the ultimate, how come they’re playing it again next year?”

As we get overly invested in a single election cycle, it’s worth indulging in a little Duane Thomas-style self-examination. If this is really the ultimate election, then why are they having another presidential contest in four years and congressional elections even sooner?

This is not to downplay the significance of this, or any other, election cycle. In the next four years, countless critical decisions will be made regarding vital areas of national interest. A Joe Biden win seems certain to bring increased government spending especially on health care and education along with considerably higher taxes and inflation; Donald Trump’s re-election will result in continuing deregulation of the private sector and greater use of natural resources to expand our energy independence and grow the free enterprise economy. 

Most such practical issues end up in compromises between the elected leaders of the political parties. For example, Republicans will never lower taxes to zero, nor will Democrats raise them to 100 percent, regardless of the fondest wishes of some members of each party.

Of course, not all issues are subject to compromise. Republicans have an expansive view of the Second Amendment, while Democrats act as though the Bill of Rights somehow excludes its original language with respect to “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” 

Likewise, the Democrats are all-in on abortion and they will adamantly oppose any regulations to protect unborn babies proposed by GOP legislators. Republicans are committed to an expansive idea of religious liberty based upon the First Amendment’s “free exercise” clause, while Democrats promote an uncommonly stingy view relegated to “freedom of worship.”  

Perhaps the two parties’ competing visions are best summed up by their contrasting positions on the Little Sisters of the Poor:  Democrats demand the nuns contravene their religious beliefs by paying for contraception through a government insurance mandate; Republicans say religious orders should freely decide such moral and ethical matters for themselves. Democrats favor ceding power to government bureaucrats; Republicans respect the important role of churches and other independent mediating institutions.

So it is true that elections decide some issues in an ultimate way. And it’s equally true that in 2020 those advocating about broadly defined social issues clearly have the most at stake. 

By doing his best to nominate three outstanding jurists to the Supreme Court and many more to lower federal benches, President Donald Trump offers hope that the half-century judicial monopoly by the Left has come to an end. That will surely be Trump’s greatest contribution to the future of this nation. And his court appointments will mitigate against whatever radical pro-abortion, anti-religious liberty, and anti-First and Second Amendment policies a Biden presidency threatens.

Pro-lifers, religious liberty advocates, and conservatives would do well to understand that political systems based upon the consent of the governed provide no assurances of good outcomes. Perhaps Winston Churchill put it best in 1947, when he cautioned, “Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried, in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.” 

Then he tagged on his guarded endorsement of the democratic experiment. “Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst from of government,” Churchill admonished, “except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

The United States of America represents the prime example of Churchill’s sobering warning. This nation has seen pivotal elections in the past. In 1800, incumbent John Adams lost to challenger Thomas Jefferson. The ensuing peaceful transfer of power marked a milestone in modern democratic history. Such peaceful transfers of power have routinely happened in the United States ever since. Despite extreme liberal attempts to cause panic among the populace, there’s absolutely zero threat that a similar peaceful transfer of power will not happen in January 2021, should the voters demand it.  

In 1860, Abraham Lincoln won, and the future of slavery in America lost. Four years later, he showed “that government of the people, for the people, by the people” could complete an election in the midst of a bloody Civil War. Finally, in 1912 progressive Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the presidency, forever enlarging the size and scope of the federal government, reverberations of which we still debate to this day.

Certainly, other campaigns have had far-reaching consequences by electing to the presidency such historic figures as Andrew Jackson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan. Nonetheless, every election has been succeeded by more elections at times confirming, at other times overturning, past results.

Finally, the point is not that one should be neutral or nonchalant about elections. Rather, it is that one should realize that regardless of the winning or losing sides, there will be more campaigns that guarantee future victories and defeats. A democratic system is an ongoing and unending process, occasionally effecting good outcomes.

Yes, we’ll all wake up November 4, because “there’s got to be a morning after.” That song, “The Morning After,” was composed for a 1972 movie soundtrack, coincidentally the same year NFL star Duane Thomas made his pointed comments about “the ultimate game.” Thomas and his Dallas Cowboys won that January 16, 1972 Super Bowl over the Miami Dolphins by a convincing score of 24-3.

But the prescient Thomas proved right. Another “ultimate game” was held the following year. And guess what? The prior year’s losing Miami Dolphins fulfilled their mythic “perfect season” by winning their first Super Bowl on January 14, 1973.

And about that “morning after” movie? It was actually titled The Poseidon Adventure, one of the most successful “disaster films” of the 1970s. That will provide little consolation to those fearing a disaster in this year’s election results.


Joseph Tortelli is a freelance writer. Read other columns by Mr. Tortelli here.