What Will You Do If He’s Elected?

In November 2016, the late, great Brian Doyle sent along one of his email “ditties” under this title.

Then, of course, you knew exactly who “he” was — and Brian’s response was characteristically empathetic, charitable, and hope-filled. No, Brian insisted, he wouldn’t be leaving this country he loves; and, after all, people can change, quickly — we’ve all seen it.

Four years later, much has changed: Brian didn’t leave the country, but he tragically left this life. And “he” hasn’t exactly risen to the dignified image of his office.

But the question remains, and it’s even more pointed now. What to do if he’s re-elected is now the subject of much public and private handwringing; an NYT columnist seriously considers leaving, while an FT columnist is no longer considering settling here.

But what will you do if he’s elected? No, not him — the other one. If it’s hard to contemplate grace in defeat, it’s perhaps even harder to contemplate grace in victory. “Vindication” is awfully close to “vindictive,” and vindictiveness is not going to bind up the nation’s wounds.

Victory is a test of character, probably more even than defeat. “He” failed that test horribly.

Will we?