Next Tuesday, the heavens will offer us an unusual astronomical spectacle: A lunar eclipse will turn the moon blood red during the very early hours of the day, as our celestial neighbor moves into the earth’s shadow.
Next Tuesday is also Election Day, the 2022 midterms. This, too, promises to be an unusual event, with America teetering on its democratic foundation as forces social and political threaten to pull us apart. I couldn’t have imagined writing those words five years ago, but the earth is tilting on its axis in new and frightening ways.
With the blood moon in sight, I hold two thoughts in my head at the same time. First, the election seems hyper-consequential. Everything — our freedoms, our privacy rights, our separation of church and state — seem to be riding on the choice of elected offices, from governorships to judges and from senators to representatives. As we draw closer to voting day, the urgency grows more intense, the ads flood the internet and airwaves, and every word out of every candidate’s mouth is parsed and studied and defined for us by a ginned-up media. Every debate is a high-wire act. Fringe actors aligned with QAnon and other seriously crazy groups are emboldened to push the limits of civility and then step over the line.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, QAnon is an “umbrella term for a sprawling spiderweb of right-wing internet conspiracy theories with antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ elements.” Its power and efficacy are in play, and it has followers in the GOP, both in and out of office.
What hangs in the balance on Nov. 8? Only our rights to reproductive freedom. Only the ability to go to the polls without being harassed and threatened. Only the assurance that enough people still care about democracy to vote their conscience. Only the knowledge that most voters condemn racism and antisemitism when they see it. Only the peace of mind of knowing that office-seekers who traffic in lies will be defeated by a savvy electorate.
As we go to press, the atmosphere is supercharged, with the Jan. 6 insurgency fresh in our minds and an attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband in their San Francisco home in the headlines. Like her or not, the woman is a rock. At 82, she survived the invasion of the Capitol just 21 months ago. Last Friday, a violent intruder broke into her home, calling, “Where’s Nancy?” He beat her husband with a hammer before being subdued. Somehow she is still standing, but the attack has poisoned the political atmosphere.
The internet is crawling with extremist websites and incitements to violence in the name of authoritarian principles and leaders. How does the average voter figure out who are the truth-tellers and who are the unprincipled power players? How do we who support our democracy make our way through this?
This is a tough time to face an election, either as a candidate or as a voter. Some days if feels overwhelming. When I feel overwhelmed, the other thought I summon is a calming one. Yes, the election is important, but the next day, whoever wins, the sun will still rise.
Those of us who find our hearts pounding with anxiety at the possible ascendancy of the former president and his acolytes must look past the moment. We can’t sustain high anxiety and remain productive and healthy. We go with the flow of history and do our jobs as best we can to support the decent people who want to serve.
However the voters decide, I plan to get up before dawn and find the moon sailing across the sky. I hope to see some of the eclipse before the sun comes up on Election Day. Feet on the ground, I will hold onto the thought that our time here is brief. It would be good to leave this planet healthier and its people wiser than before we arrived, but our options are limited.
The rarest of astronomical events is the total aligning of all the planets. The last time it happened was 949, and the next time will be 2492. Our lives are so small in terms of the universe that we are 1,073 years late for the first planetary alignment and 470 years too early for the next.
What happens next Tuesday may change our lives, but over the arc of time, this election season is a blip on the celestial map.
Copyright 2022 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.