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As counting continues across the country, voters in Massachusetts are anxiously awaiting the final results of the presidential election. And some are lamenting the country’s political polarization, regardless of who they voted for.
Two days after Election Day, shoppers file in and out of Market Basket in Billerica, a suburban town about a half hour north of Boston. Among them is Doug Howser, a retired cabinetmaker who calls himself a conservative Republican.
Howser voted for Trump, but says he didn’t like it when the president falsely declared victory and threatened to go to the Supreme Court early Wednesday morning.
"No, no. But that's Trump," Howser says. "He's an idiot, you know, but he's a strong-willed idiot … I just want to see some changes."
One change Howser wants is less polarization in American politics. He says he’s being treated for liver cancer, and he hopes to see some signs of civility as he nears the end of his life.
"I'm almost 70 years old and I've got a disease," he says. "It's probably going to kill me within a year or so now — maybe two years, maybe five. Who knows? But it just breaks my heart to see people that love each other getting in violent arguments over all this stuff. It's just like, what happened to bipartisanship? It doesn't exist anymore?"
Billerica has swung back and forth in recent presidential elections. Trump narrowly carried the town in 2016. The president’s numbers were close to the same this time around, but the Democratic vote increased by just under 30%.
Among the Biden supporters at Market Basket yesterday were Billerica residents Keith and Sharon Dennehy. Sharon says she’s ready for the anxiety around the elections to come to an end.
"Oh, I sure am," she says. "But you know what? Whoever comes out the winner, then it was meant to be."
Keith Dennehy remembers what it was like before the pandemic — to go to a baseball game with thousands of fellow fans.
"There was no group based on ethnicity, politics, religion, any of that," he says. "They were watching the baseball game and they all stood up and said, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States — are we united today? One nation, indivisible — are we indivisible today?"
Similar sentiments are felt in Boston, where Biden captured nearly 83% of the vote. At the South Bay Center in Dorchester on Wednesday, people are out running errands, picking up groceries — and feeling a bit tense about the election.
Laura Vieira, 23, just got off work and says she’s feeling anxious about the election results.
“I think it is a lot closer than it should be and I feel like there's a pretty obvious, uh ... honestly, just an obvious choice to make,” the pharmacy student said with a laugh.
The obvious choice for Vieira was Joe Biden. She says she doesn't like how Trump has handled various issues.
“His views on racism, education, healthcare, people's rights — I have issues with a lot of the ways he's handled those the last four years,” Vieira says.
Other folks here say similar things about Trump's term. Retiree William Sharpe, 63, who lives in Roxbury, says he doesn't like how Trump has handled the pandemic. And he has some advice for the next president, who he hopes will be Biden.
"Do better,” Sharpe says. “Do better than Trump. That's what I would say. I don't understand why it's so messed up now. Because he didn't do what he was supposed to do. He’s telling people he's going to do this, do that. He didn't do nothing — only for the rich people."
Some folks here feel mixed emotions. Dorchester resident Marci Torres is out running errands with her family.
"We're nervous,” says 38-year-old Torres. “Excited too, because we voted for Biden."
Torres says regardless of who wins, she wants to see less division in the country.
“I do want to see more tranquility, you know — a union,” Torres says. “That's what we want because that's what I teach my girls: To be respected. That’s the first thing. And that's what we all need: respect."
And she's not alone. Many here just want to know what comes next.
"I wish it was over with and we had a decisive winner either way so we can try to work together,” says 63-year-old Mark Gershlak.
Gershlak didn't want to say who he voted for, but he also hopes the next president will try to unify the country.
When asked what he would say to the next president, Gershlak says: “Just good luck. It's a tough job. I wouldn't want it.”
This segment aired on November 5, 2020.
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