WHO WON’T BE relieved when this general election cycle is over? The year 2020 has been one for the history books. We all need some closure as our bitterly divided country braces for the Nov. 3 election. It’s critical for the survival of democracy that we trust the results.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected, and prepare for any and all scenarios. COVID-19 could well be the cataclysmic event that will be remembered as the turning point for our nation’s future including the focus on renewable energy.

Americans have faced an extraordinary set of challenges in 2020: foreign election interference, a partisan impeachment trial, a global health pandemic, devastating natural disasters, economic instability that included a shutdown of the country, mass protests, civil unrest in the streets and intense political polarization.

Our citizens are experiencing crisis fatigue. We need the November election to run smoothly. We need all votes, in-person and mail-in, to be counted without controversy, and that there be a clear and decisive result. Is that even possible in this contentious environment?

At this time, we can’t say who will win, but the Electoral College meets Dec. 14 to make the results official. The candidates receiving the majority, at least 270 votes, immediately become president- and vice president-elect, and they will take office Jan. 20, 2021, maybe!

Many predict the national media coverage of the nation’s standing will change dramatically after a Joe Biden victory even if the reality does not. People in the national media are said to be so passionate in their loathing of President Donald Trump that it has clouded their judgement.

If the national polls and pundits are correct, Biden will emerge victorious. He hitched his wagon to the issues of health care, raising taxes,Trump’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic and uniting the country. Trump’s bid was built on his first-term accomplishments, cutting taxes, his leadership on the economy, and strong support of law and order.

Given Biden’s affable personality and lack of a radical record, it is tempting to hope he would bring temperance to the White House and allow the country to exhale and heal. Some pros fear the low-key Biden-Harris campaign has been overconfident and could have underestimated Trump’s silent support.

The danger is Biden is beholden to the far-left liberals and has shown a tendency to turn the country toward the same radical goals espoused by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and the socialist agenda, but Biden would simply take longer to get there.

The partisan media portrays Biden as a familiar face, reliable statesman and a known quantity in contrast with the volatile Trump. Based on the Democrat platform, a Biden-Harris administration would be one of the most liberal in history. Biden simply said “I’m not Donald Trump.”

A Trump re-election could set off more turmoil and unrest. We could have four more years of “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” especially if the Democrats take control of the Senate in addition to the House.

Not to be overlooked, the battle for the advantage in the U.S. Senate is vitally important. Whoever holds that majority will determine whether change next year is centrist or radical. A Democratic “blue wave” would make New York Sen. Chuck Schumer majority leader of the Senate while Nancy Pelosi could remain Speaker of the House.

The Democrat wave, if it happens, could continue in 2022 when the Republican Party will have to defend at least 20 Senate seats while Democrats protect 12 mostly safe strongholds.

Voters also are reminded that the Electoral College process, not the overall popular vote, determines who wins or loses presidential elections. Voter turnout will be a major factor. This year will be a little different. As many as 50 million people have already voted, either in-person or by mail-in. Whether your candidates win or lose, remember we all need to accept the results.