This election changed me, and you, and the neighbors down the street. We know things now we didn't know mere days ago. Some of these things are small, and some of them are big.
Small things we know:
We know that Las Vegas is in Clark County. That Stacey Abrams is a star. That Florida always breaks your heart. That bad things happen to presidents who trash-talk Philadelphia.
We know that local election officials are frontline workers, guardians at democracy's gate. We know that ballots can be cured (can a cure for COVID be far behind?). That the U.S. Postal Service is part of the national backbone, like the electric grid.
We know that you can offer up an inconvenient truth about climate change -- it's time to "transition away from the oil industry" -- and still win Pennsylvania.
We know that Joe Biden owes Black Americans. That the Latino vote is complicated. That SNL is still must-see TV. That John King is from Dorchester. That Wolf Blitzer is our Walter Cronkite.
Bigger things we know:
We know that the blue wave was coming. We did not know about the red wave.
We know that coattails are short and Democrats can lose "down ballot" races. We know that phone calls, postcards and texts mobilize the already-committed. But now we also know that changing minds -- persuasion politics rather than turnout politics -- is an epic lift when you can't campaign door to door and face to face.
We know that when others went high, Trump went low, and his base just loved it. That the base had no problem with a candidate who put kids in cages and ridiculed people with disabilities. That it's fine if you never built the wall and Mexico never paid for it. Because it was not about the follow-through. The taunt was enough; the taunt made his people smile, and feel naughty, and powerful, and deliciously cruel.
We know that Putin sowed doubt about American democracy in 2016 and Trump took up the job in 2020, ensuring a smooth transition. That we're one of those unfortunate countries with an autocrat who refuses to leave office and an opposition leader who must wager that he lives in a nation of laws.
Going forward, we know that all eyes are on Georgia. That each of us, in our own way, must lend a hand. That if the U.S. Senate remains Republican, there are some prospects for bipartisanship on COVID and the economy but almost none on global warming.
Which is not to say that we should lose hope. So long as our federal system of strong state governments lets blue places cooperate with a world community, we know that Massachusetts can be part of the global fight to keep emissions below catastrophic levels.
As State Senate chair of a legislative committee tasked with making climate policy, I intend to do my part.
Bob Seger sang, "Wish I didn't know now / what I didn't know then." Talking about the loss of innocence. With this, we can identify.
People who have lost their innocence are sadder. Also wiser, and tougher, and more resolved. Given the times, not a bad place to be. Our nation needs us, just the way we are. This is the biggest thing I know.
Senator Mike Barrett