Nate: This column will be published a week before the November 3 election. That election feels to me like a fulcrum of history in a way unique in my lifetime. I have lived through other events of world-historical importance (the collapse of the Soviet Union and 9/11 come to mind as two that left indelible emotional imprints on me), but this feels different: This is something we are all expecting, and I think most of us are watching and waiting with dread.

Becca: I’m holding my breath, not making any plans post-election. No matter what, I don’t expect us to be in a calm place for quite a while. Trump will definitely not win the popular vote; people who are anti-authoritarianism are organizing to possibly hit the streets, as are Trump fanatics. Even if Trump leaves the White House graciously, his administration and its Republican collaborators have stuffed the courts with right-wing “activist” judges, actively propagated white supremacy and grown the federal deficit outlook by trillions, mostly with giveaways to the rich and corporations on the backs of everyone else.

The Trump years have been awful. But as horrifying as these four years have been, in some ways, Trump’s policies differ only partially from other administrations: President Obama, for all his talk of kindness to immigrants, built immigrant cages and had to be sued to release migrant families “detained” (i.e., imprisoned) under his watch; President Clinton orchestrated the devastation of welfare. The work of wresting ourselves from hundreds of years of inequality and oppression will need to passionately continue.

Nate: In some ways, though, Trump has been quite different: He and his enablers are attacking the foundations of our democracy in a way that no president has ever done, and it’s not clear that the country will survive the assault. And, though thousands of other people have already done so in print, we might as well make it explicit: President Trump is a con man, a swindler, a carnival barker, a narcissist beyond reckoning, extravagantly ill-suited to his office. We owe it to our history and future to be continually repulsed by his behavior.

Becca: I want to express my gratitude to all the people who have been dissenting in ways small and large, to the people who hadn’t been involved in activism for decades who got wildly involved, the people who have wept, boiled with rage on a daily basis, the people who had to stop listening to the news yet still turned up for marches, who organized, who wrote letters to the paper, who talked to friends, strangers, who put up signs, demonstrated for Black lives, toppled racist statues, chained themselves to institutions of suffering, worked for immigrant rights and the earth, for queer rights, workers and health care, against rape, patriarchy and war. Thank you. It hasn’t made as much of a difference as we wanted, nor has it been as widespread as it should have been (General Strike!), but imagine how much worse things would be had there been no protest.

Nate: On the plus side, we get to use ranked-choice voting for the offices of president and vice president, U.S. senator, and U.S. congressional representative, and I’m excited to have ranked Lisa Savage #1 for U.S. senator!

Becca: I did a lot of research to make sure that was a choice that could still result in Collins’s departure, and I also ranked Lisa Savage number one, then Sara Gideon.

Nate: The very first vote I ever cast as an adult was for John McCain in the 2000 Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire. I really didn’t want W to win — and in fact McCain won New Hampshire! I, too, had hoped that things would be different when Obama was elected, and they were different, to an extent. But social progress is slow, and I think it’s measured properly over decades and centuries, not years.

Becca: I believe progress can be immediate and sudden — like, during the pandemic, suddenly, miraculously, people were polluting less, almost as if it had been possible all along.

P.S. Wow — You were a Republican in 2000? Or just did that to try to stop GW?

Nate: I was just trying to stop W (I was a Bill Bradley fan), and I obviously failed! How shall we end this column? A plea for our readers to vote? I imagine most of them don’t need much encouragement from us.

Becca: Everyone, please vote, and keep raising a ruckus for empathy, equality and freedom. We will (hopefully) see you on the other side.