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Fri Aug 14, 2020, 12:32 PM

Americans have no more illusions about the stakes of this election

One advantage for Democrats of having a virtual convention this year is that they don’t risk a repeat of 2016, when “Bernie or Bust” Sanders supporters did everything in their power to express their disgruntlement that their candidate was not the party’s nominee. It got so bad that, at one point, they booed Bernie Sanders himself when he told them they had to stop Donald Trump.

That will not happen this time around. In fact, now that Democrats have a complete ticket, they’re looking more ready than ever to fill out their ballots. And they’re not alone. On Thursday, the Pew Research Center released new data about the election, including this extraordinary graph:

Thank you, President Trump, for showing Americans the stakes of presidential elections.

If you care enough about politics to be reading this article, you probably thought, “Of course it really matters who wins. Just look around!” But voters, particularly those who don’t pay attention to politics every day, are given all kinds of messages suggesting that the two parties aren’t really all that different. Being an “independent” shows that you think for yourself, “Washington” can’t get anything done, partisan bickering is what holds us back, the solution to complex policy problems can be found in “common sense” — all those commonly expressed ideas communicate that what divides the parties isn’t all that meaningful.

But after 3½ years of Trump, not only are partisan differences more vivid than ever, it’s also impossible to deny that the particular individual occupying the Oval Office can change all of our lives.


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