After the marches and protests, after the novel coronavirus, after the diminished party conventions and finally after the election … what’s next?

There are three possible outcomes.

If Donald Trump wins a second term, losing the popular vote while eking out a narrow electoral vote majority, we can expect levels of popular dissent unseen since the runup to the Civil War. The anger and frustration felt by so many segments of the population have found a focus in Black Lives Matter. Many believe President Trump to be the chief promoter and enabler of a deeply corrupt system. His re-election might ensure years of domestic disorder and chaos as well as a consequently crippled economy. And if Republicans retain their Senate majority, Trump will appoint at least one Supreme Court justice and finish the task of packing the federal judiciary with conservative jurists. Such actions will further enrage his opponents and exacerbate anger and division in our country.

If Joe Biden wins, and Democrats seize control of the Senate while retaining the House, the former vice president will have a tiger by the tail. Some of us yearn for the quiet competence of Barack Obama, believing that women and men of good will can work together to bend the arc of history toward justice, as Martin Luther King Jr. predicted half a century ago — but that won’t be enough. Biden’s team may be forced to craft and execute policies that would have seemed impossibly radical just a few months ago. Think Andrew Yang’s universal basic income, free college, universal health care and citizenship for Dreamers, demilitarized policing and a reduced defense budget. Could (or would) Democrats in the House and Senate pass such bills, and would a once-cautious centrist like Sleepy Joe sign them? Taken together, they’d radically reshape our country.

But suppose Biden wins, but the Senate remains narrowly Republican? Two or three centrist Republican Senators would effectively have veto power over legislation they thought too extreme, putting Biden in the comfortably bipartisan zone occupied by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper when he had to work with a split legislature. We’d be back to gradualism and cautious, crisis-averse governing. Former President Trump would golf, tweet and entertain fans at his resorts, while former President Obama would be a frequent guest at the White House. Change would come.

Meanwhile, we’re back to some semblance of normality. Businesses are reopening, airline travel is tentatively resuming and highway traffic has gone from nonexistent to mildly irritating. We even met our friends Bruce and Natalie for drinks and appetizers at a Westside restaurant, which was both delightful and scary — don’t think that we’ll ever go out as much as we did in those halcyon pre-coronavirus days.

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And now, it’s once again time for local politics.

First, the Incline. It was so sweet back in the ’90s when a few of us ignored the No Trespassing signs and ran (very carefully) to the top. Now it’s an attractive nuisance, a symbol of Manitou’s subordination to the lordly grandees of Colorado Springs — or it was until the Manitou City Council voted to close it during the pandemic. We’ll see if the two cities can make a deal to reopen it, but what if Colorado Springs voters approve a proposed November ballot issue legalizing retail cannabis sales in the city, thereby ending Manitou’s profitable monopoly? Manitou’s city budget will take a disastrous hit, so Incline users will have to pay up, like it or not.

And what about our local Republican Party? They’re fighting personally, publicly and divisively. By doing so, they’re delegitimizing their party and their party’s candidates in an election year. It’ll be fun to see whether the GOP’s hit job on Hick’s paid-for trip to the Bilderberg conference has legs, assuming that he makes it through the Democratic primary. Meanwhile, Cory Gardner sent me a fake-friendly fundraising letter warning me that liberal special interests “want to replace me with a rubber-stamp for the radical, far-left agenda of Democrat Congressional leaders.” It seems likely that Gardner’s database targeted me as an elderly, wealthy white male right-wing El Paso County Republican. They’re more than half right; I’m an elderly white male who lives in El Paso County.

Yet suppose Gardner won and became the most important swing vote in the Senate, courted by President Biden and Speaker Pelosi? That would definitely be good for Colorado… 

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