Voters are really looking toward 2020: 'This is a test for the American people' (analysis)
Luther Memorial Church ran a soup sale fundraiser for a new parking lot in conjunction with voting at Spring Garden Township 3rd Ward polling place. York Daily Record
Usually, off-year elections are sleepy affairs.
Sure, there are some local issues that drive voters to the polls, such as the proposal in Hallam to terminate its police service contract with Hellam Township and rely on state police to patrol the town — and the heated race for York County Sheriff.
But as voters went to the polls on Tuesday in this odd-year election, they had one other thing on their minds – the 2020 presidential election, a contest that has been seemingly going on since, well, the last presidential election.
The local races, voters said, are important, but they were merely exercises in civic engagement. More than one voter repeated the phrase “civic duty” when asked what got them out to vote Tuesday.
The presidential election, though, is already sucking a lot of oxygen out of the political atmosphere.
“We’re at a moment where we really need to do a lot of soul searching,” said Suzanne Shaffer, a 59-year-old teacher, after casting her ballot at the Springetts Apartments Community Room in Springettsbury Township. “This is a test for the American people.”
It is a test, and whether the country passes or fails depends on which side of the deep political divide you inhabit. Democrats detest Donald Trump. Republicans detest the Democrats. And the two seem to reside in different realities.
For example, some Democratic voters said the impeachment process is important to hold Trump accountable and demonstrate that no one, not even the president, is above the law. Some Republicans said it was a witch hunt, a partisan exercise launched the day Trump took office.
One thing voters seemed to agree upon: “I hope it doesn’t get too ugly,” said James Harris, a 69-year-old retired postal worker, after he voted at Jackson School in York, “but I think it’s going to get ugly.”
At Springettsbury’s Sixth Precinct, Shaffer said, “It’s just a shame where we are.”
We need people who govern ethically and perform their job with integrity, she said, something that she believes is lacking in the Trump administration. “There are people acting in very unethical ways, and enough’s enough,” she said.
“I think it’s incredibly important for Americans to show who they are. If we don’t stand up for ethics and integrity, shame on us. It’s our moment to show the world who we really are.”
A few moments later, Zachary Galloway exited the polls. A 25-year-old CPA who identifies as independent, said “I think it’s going to be a very divided race. I hope we get past that and work toward unifying the country.”
The drive to impeach Trump may affect his ultimate decision, but he said, “I’m going to reserve judgment until I hear the facts,” he said.
Some Trump supporters, though, don’t think impeachment matters. In the words of Windsor Township voter Carla Sarver, a 67-year-old Harley-Davidson retiree, “It’s shady.”
“As far as I’m concerned, the Democrats have been after him from the time he was elected,” Sarver said. “I don’t think he did anything wrong.”
She did say that, at one time, she did like former Vice President Joe Biden, but no longer. “I think he’s washed up. He’s done.” Now, she said, “Trump all the way — no ifs, ands or buts.”
Like some other Trump supporters, she said, “I may not like how he does things sometimes, but he’s done more for the country than the others have in a long time.”
If the election were right now, Mike Boyd, a 68-year-old retired construction worker, said, “I’d vote for President Trump.”
And his reason has little to do with Trump’s performance in office, or what he thinks about the impeachment process, which he termed a distraction.
“I look at the Democrats, and it seems like they’re half crazy, more than half crazy,” he said. “There’s no end to the promises they make just to get votes.”
Wade Markel, after voting at the fire hall in Hallam borough, said, “I believe (Trump) says what a lot of people think but don’t say. I don’t always agree with how he does things, but I think he’s been good for the economy.”
Markel, 63, who works for the American Heart Association, responded with “no comment” when asked about the possible impeachment of the president. “It has no bearing as of now,” he said. “It could change.”
Harris believes the impeachment process is good for the country, though.
“I don’t think they’re going to impeach him,” he said. “But I’m glad they’re holding his feet to the fire because some things he’s done, it’s like he thinks he’s above the law.”
Lou Rivera, who, barring a miraculous write-in vote, will become the first Latino York city councilman in years, said Trump “has done some crazy stuff,” and that the president’s obsession with immigration and demonizing of mostly Latino immigrants has “really divided the country.”
“He plays into it,” Rivera said. “His base has deep-rooted hatred and racism.”
He doesn’t want to believe that Trump harbors that hatred in his heart. “I don’t think he does,” he said. “He’s just playing politics, which is ugly.”
He would like to think that the 2020 election can help bridge the divide in the country by restoring some measure of sanity to our politics.
“We’re smart and resilient,” he said. “We’ve had elections from the beginning of time in this country, some good one and some bad ones.
“All of the news affects us mentally and physically. It’s harmful. It’s toxic. We need to change things.”