I remember when I was rooting for my alma mater, USC, in the national title game against Texas in 2006. USC was looking for 3 consecutive national titles and had been undefeated for basically two years, some touting them the best college football team ever. In a very exciting game with a nail-biting finish, my team lost. It was painful, like part of me had died. I wanted to relive the game to see it play out differently. Just one play of many going another way would have produced a completely different result. But it was over, and the sting of not being the best sat with me like a depression for about a week or two… maybe residual for a month or two.
After that year I stopped identifying so much with “my teams.” As exciting as it is to feel the rush of emotions that comes with a fight to the finish, it isn’t me winning or losing — I’m living vicariously through another instead of fighting my own battles and living my own life with that level of passion and commitment.
In the aftermath of an American election, with much more at stake than a football game, it is hard to let go of that personal feeling of winning or losing. We may want to relive the game to see a different outcome. I’m sure many did that in 2016. But in this case there aren’t many plays that would have changed the game, not with millions of votes going to the other guy. When Donald Trump downplayed Covid-19, disagreeing with his scientists on live TV, splitting Americans into factions on how to approach our common enemy, he strangled the golden goose opportunity for uniting the country, and that marked the end of his presidency.
Many theories on voter fraud will circulate, but unless there is evidence of wide-spread systemic fraud to make up many tens of thousands of votes in 5 different states, the election won’t be overturned. The way our elections are run, with bipartisan witnesses and redundant methods of verification, it is highly improbable. Let the investigations take place, by all means, but the odds of them overturning the election are slim to none.
It’s over. Emotionally we may need to lick our wounds for a few weeks or a few months, adjust to a new perspective on what happened and what that means for us going forward. Maybe you have to wake up from the tribal mentality you were in to come back to the reality that we are not at war with each other. Maybe you can begin to be friends again with people from the other side of the aisle. Maybe you will find a new way to go forward from here, perhaps identifying less with your teams and more with the values that you really want to shape society.