03 morning brew rU0WGGbGg4c unsplashAmerica’s culture wars are on full display in our take-no-prisoners response to wearing masks to protect others from COVID-19. Our nation’s inherent tension between individualism and collective good has pushed us into different corners, even though polls find more of us are in the collective good corner by better than 2 to 1. The smaller but highly visible my-rights-are-more-important-than-your-health crowd stands firm despite warnings from top pandemic officials, some of whom offer different ways to think about the situation. Pretend we were living in London during the Blitz of 1940-41 when Germany bombed the city and other parts of England every night for 11 weeks. During the Blitz, the British government required nightly blackouts to hamper the German bombing effort. What if your next-door-neighbor insisted it was his right to burn lights, and bombers missed his house but destroyed yours? Would that have been a proper assertion of individual rights? Or, how about this excuse offered by mask supporters tired of COVID, “I don’t like wearing a mask.” This cynical rejoinder comes from a mask wearer also tired of COVID. “So, you don’t like wearing a mask in public for whatever reasons? Well, you are really going to hate your ventilator!”

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Continuing on COVID-19, no one knows what our situation will be when Nov. 3 rolls around. Will we feel comfortable voting in person, either early or on Election Day, when lines are likely to be long in a presidential election year? Will enough election officials be comfortable enough to oversee the voting process?

Many Americans, including this one, are opting to vote by mail because of those very uncertainties. I printed my absentee ballot request from the North Carolina Board of Elections website, filled it out and mailed it in last week to the county Board of Elections. According to the website, I will receive an official ballot correct for the candidates in my precinct in September, to be mailed in before Election Day.

If I decide to vote in person, I will simply tear up the absentee ballot. Voters have many reasons to request absentee ballots — age, illness, travel, incarceration, physical limitations and more, but voters do not have to give any reason for requesting an absentee ballot, nor is an ID required. All that is needed is name, address, N.C. driver’s license number or the last four digits of one’s Social Security number to be checked against Elections Board records. If you are interested, the state Board of Elections website is www.ncsbe.gov

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Speaking of elections, campaign season is heating up, and it is not pretty. In the presidential contest, outside entities — those that were legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010 — are running all sorts of television ads on behalf of Biden and Trump, both positive and negative. The official campaigns are also running ads, which have the voices of Donald Trump or Joe Biden, acknowledging that they have “approved this ad.” A former candidate myself, I am always interested in political ads — whether they build up their candidate or tear down the other person, and how honestly they do so either way.

So far, I have seen several official Biden ads touting his experience and patriotism and at least one going after Trump’s record. Trump’s campaign is hitting Biden hard, with less emphasis on Trump’s achievements as president. All of this could — and probably will — evolve over the next few months, but we can all rest assured about one thing.
It is going to be a long summer and fall.

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