There are a lot of words that one could use to describe the year 2020 thus far, but for most Americans, one probably works best: hell.
In a nation that has:
- suffered nearly 230,000 deaths and seen its economy partially collapse in response to a health pandemic that has been horrifically botched by a largely dysfunctional national government,
- experienced multiple waves of social unrest in response to repeated incidents in which Black women and men have been killed by law enforcement officers supposedly sworn to protect them,
- been sapped by the debilitating spread of job loss, homelessness, hunger, mental illness and hopelessness at the same time that the super-rich have seen their incomes skyrocket,
- looked on as an unprecedented number of natural disasters driven by a climate crisis that its national leadership continues to deny and ignore have raked the country,
- witnessed a troubling rise in the prevalence of utterly mad conspiracy theories and would-be domestic terrorists, and
- suffered through one of the longest and most contentious political seasons in its history,
most Americans can be forgiven if they are hoping, praying and trusting that things will simply have to get better soon.
And, indeed, if public opinion polls are to be believed, such sentiments are not unfounded. As I noted earlier this week , a series of recent surveys looking at voter attitudes toward the health pandemic indicates that people have not given up. Battered as our psyches may be by this annus horribilis, we remain committed in large numbers to common good public solutions and supporting political candidates who will promote and pursue them.
That said, the horizon is certainly not bereft of foul weather clouds.
Here then to contemplate, is our semi-official list of good news/not-so-good news items from the world of policy and politics 96 hours out from Election Day 2020.
Good news: There is hope on the COVID-19 vaccine front. The New York Times reports  that “49 vaccines in clinical trials on humans, and at least 88 preclinical vaccines are under active investigation in animals.”
Not-so-good news: Even in the best-case scenario, development and deployment of an effective vaccine is still a long way off. What’s more, the Washington Post reports  that a lack of federal financial support is preventing state officials from effectively preparing to receive and distribute a vaccine.
Good news: Like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, a significant majority of North Carolinians  support a law mandating the wearing of face masks in public.
Not-so-good news: A disturbingly large number of troubled souls in the virus denial/rapid reopen movement have lost their minds. Just days after the FBI disrupted a terrorist plot to kidnap and murder the governor of Michigan because of her efforts to control the pandemic, disturbed right-wing extremists in Ohio have been plotting to make a ”citizen’s arrest”  – no not that kind  – of their state’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine.
Good news: The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and western U.S. fire season will both come to an end soon.
Not-so-good news: The global climate emergency has helped make both of this year’s seasons among the worst on record and, will quite likely, make each season longer and more severe in the years to come.
Good news: A higher percentage of American voters  is expected to cast ballots in this year’s election than we’ve seen in more than century.
Not-so-good news: A record number of lawsuits  could well delay certification of final results in many races for days or weeks.
Good news: Reports indicate the U.S. Gross Domestic Product rebounded sharply  in the last quarter.
Not-so-good news: Vast numbers of Americans continue to suffer mightily. What’s more, as Duke University Prof. Dirk Philipsen argues persuasively in his book “The Little Big Number,”  continued exponential growth in GDP is, quite literally, impossible and unsustainable.
Good news: Raleigh’s News & Observer published an important and in-depth investigation  of state House Speaker Tim Moore’s extremely troubling business dealings and connections Thursday on the front page of its hard copy edition.
Not-so-good news: The potential impact of the 3,000-plus word story was dramatically reduced as the result of a tiny, milquetoast headline and the relegation of the vast majority of reporter Dan Kane’s impressive work to a featureless and daunting sea of words on a back page.
Good news: Significant change could be on the horizon at the General Assembly, where a number of conservative politicians who once dispensed lectures about the need for term limits, but who have now spent large chunks of their adult lives on Jones Street, could lose power.
Not-so-good news: According to the NC Insider, Former State Rep. Charles Jeter is predicting there is a very good chance that the House (and maybe the Senate too) will end up evenly divided (60-60 and 25-25) between Republicans and Democrats.
Good news: After next Tuesday, Americans will not have to vote in another presidential election for 1,461 days.
Not-so-good news: Multiple reports indicate that jockeying between potential candidates for both major party nominations in the next election cycle is already well-underway. Indeed, as veteran North Carolina columnist D.G. Martin reported this week , former Trump minion Steve Bannon is already predicting that if he loses, Trump will soon declare his candidacy for the White House in 2024.