The Good Press — Issue #29: Accountability

The Good Press
9 min readNov 4, 2020

Hello and welcome to another edition of The Good Press, a newsletter of observations about life, sports, and/or anything else that comes to mind.

Thanks for reading. I hope you find this issue to be worth your time.

Comments and reader suggestions are always welcome.

Accountability

It’s November 4, do you know who your president-elect is?

By the time this issue went live, the answer to that may still be unknown.

Tuesday, November 3, was Election Day in the United States, but I think it’s more apt to consider it “Counting Day,” since over 100 million Americans voted early, before November 3, the day that ballots begin being counted.

Keyword: begin. Because ballot counting is never completed on Election Night, as The New York Times reminded us in a piece over the weekend.

As Maggie Astor of The NY Times explained:

Americans are accustomed to knowing who won on election night because news organizations project winners based on partial counts, not because the counting is actually completed that quickly. These race calls mean Candidate A is far enough ahead that, given the number of outstanding ballots and the regions those ballots are coming from, Candidate B would realistically be unable to close the gap.

The difference this year is not the timing of final results — those will come, as always, by certification deadlines each state has set, ranging from two days after the election in Delaware to more than a month after in California. The difference, rather, is when news organizations are likely to have enough information to make accurate projections.

If […] courts were to force states to stop counting after Nov. 3, it would be an extraordinary subversion of the electoral process and would disenfranchise millions of voters who cast valid, on-time ballots.

Adding to the scramble to count ballots is the fact that absentee ballots sent in by mail take longer to process than in-person ballots, and in some places, mail ballots don’t even begin getting counted until today, November 4.

So, welcome to Election Day II: The Final Count, I guess. Having fun yet?

Considering it’s still a ways away until the inauguration on January 20, 2021, it’s probably going to a bumpy ride from now till then, no matter what the final election results look like. I’m hopeful that every vote will be counted, no matter how long it takes. We’ve got time to make sure we get this one right. It’s to be expected, I suppose, that in a year unlike any other, we have an election process unlike any we’ve ever seen. (Al Gore, eat your heart out.)

Elections are, fundamentally, about accountability.

Public officials are elected by American citizens and paid their salaries with American tax dollars. That means that Americans have the final say on who is hired to fill these crucial positions. Campaigns are akin to job interviews for prospective hires. Elections are akin to performance reviews for incumbents.

That’s why it’s so important in a democracy for as many citizens as possible to vote and make their voice heard when it comes to hiring for the most vital job in the land. That’s why it’s so crucial for every single vote to be counted.

Accountability is about the obligation to take responsibility for things that happen when it’s your job to be responsible and accountable for them. Accountability is about doing the job. Period. If you’re hired to a job and you don’t do the job well (or give up trying at all) then you’re not allowed to be surprised when the bosses fire you and hire someone else to do the job.

No matter what the final ballot count shows, whether the incumbent president is ushered out of the Oval Office in January or not, being president is about being accountable for hard things, even if they’re not your fault.

It’s your job to carry the burden of the country on your shoulders when you’re elected to hold public office at the federal level. When things get tough, you’re not allowed to whine and deflect and shirk accountability.

Beyond that, regardless of holding office: behaviors, words, and actions matter. Especially when it is so unprecedented and so morally repugnant. Maybe most egregious has been the fanning of the flames of hate, which domestic terrorists have been emboldened by, escalating in dangerous ways.

In Other Words

This hasn’t been a normal election process because, for the second time in as many elections, one of the candidates appears incapable of accountability. The behavior of the 45th president appears to be the behavior of someone who, at the very least, has no interest at all in empathy or accountability.

That’s not just a personal problem, not when the person in question is a person hired to keep Americans safe from enemies foreign and domestic.

I did not vote for the incumbent president, and neither did tens of millions of Americans in all 50 states who voted against keeping him in the job. Of course, tens of millions of Americans voted to keep him in place, and untold tens of millions did not weigh in on who to hire at this very pivotal job fair. We’re never going to have a consensus in elections, but that in and of itself is a beautiful thing about democracy. May the best ideas win. May the best policies win. Each party nominates their best avatar to advocate for the ideas and policies they believe in, and each election is a referendum on these ideas.

That’s how it works. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Counting every last ballot is essential to ensure that the person with the most votes wins. That’s only if you play by the rules, though, and one party has spent a lot more time trying to undermine democracy than they have trying to win the most votes.

Here’s the bottom line about accountability, especially as it pertains to the presidency and any other public office. In a democracy, voters will always have the ability to render their verdict, every election, on whether they approve of the job the officials are doing. When I talk about accountability as a voter, it means I expect whoever is sworn in on January 20 to do the job. If you don’t do the job that voters expect of you when they hired you, then you better believe voters will hold you accountable for that. That is democracy.

Parting Thoughts

This year’s been a whirlwind of cascading crises that, at times, seem to be blurring the line between reality and surreality. I think it’s fair to ask if any sci-fi story about the year 2020 throughout history can match the nonfiction.

Regardless of which public officials are in office, the coronavirus is now likely a permanent part of our lives for the foreseeable future, lingering like a foul stench, but one that can turn from foul stench into no sense of smell at all. Just as this past weekend on Halloween, the scariest mask was no mask at all.

I hope you and your loved ones have trekked forward into November safely and healthily, and I hope it remains that way for as long as it possibly can.

On that note, I have a recommended reading for you (and anyone you’d like to share with) as we battle the pandemic together over the next few months. It’s a must-see piece of journalism from El País, a daily newspaper in Spain. In the English edition of the newspaper, they’ve written and illustrated an overview of research on how the coronavirus spreads through the air via aerosol transmission, with interactive diagrams of how to combat the virus.

It’s a fascinating look at how regular everyday scenarios can potentially be very dangerous, depending on the environment they’re conducted in. It’s illuminating seeing animated illustrations of precisely how aerosols can linger invisibly and dangerously, and why ventilation is so crucially important.

I could not recommend this piece more to help protect yourself and others.

Thank you to all of you who take the time each week to read The Good Press. 29 issues in, your readership and feedback keep me accountable to myself.

I started this project as something of a challenge to myself to write regularly, to create something uniquely my own, to find my inner creative, and to do it simply because it feels good to create something that is uniquely yours.

I’m proud of each and every issue I’ve written, and I’m grateful for everyone who keeps me accountable and encourages me to keep at it week after week.

Hopefully I can get back to sports soon. The New York Mets had a week that could be a franchise-defining week, with a new ownership transition period beginning and Steve Cohen set to take the reigns as controlling owner soon.

Sometime soon, the closing of the sale could be made official, and MLB has already voted to approve the ownership change, which could mean the Cohen-led Mets can become a serious factor in the Hot Stove this offseason.

Cohen, a lifelong Mets fan, is the most wealthy owner in MLB history and is already taking ideas on Twitter from fans on their plans to revive the Mets.

Of course, it’s all good on paper. They don’t decide championships on paper. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that having a lot of capital to invest in the infrastructure of any organization is a good thing. If you invest wisely.

There are always a lot of “ifs” in baseball. If this, if that.

If you can get the right pieces in place at the right time. If you can hire the right people throughout the organization to help the ballclub win ballgames.

If the baseball season can happen without an NBA-style bubble or altered play in some way because the country is still infested with COVID-19 in 2021 at a rate that makes an unaltered sports season unfeasible or impractical.

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The Good Press

a newsletter of observations about life, sports, and/or anything else that comes to mind