Editor’s Note: I have been predicting that Trump would be re-elected, but however it turns out, it will be close, and the loser will be the American people (who will, nonetheless, get what they deserve) and American democracy, which is teetering on the brink in 2020.
This was written during the runup to election day. It’s possible we will have chosen a president by the time you read it, but it could remain unsettled well into December. Some are calling this the most important election in American history. That might be hyperbole; however, it is likely to be the most critical vote since Lincoln’s reelection in 1864.
Coming at the end of a year in which governmental incompetence may contribute to a quarter-million deaths, this election is more tense than usual. Many of us are voting angrily this time, because of what’s been taken from us during the past four years, and what could be lost during the next four. For some, belief in their country has rapidly eroded, as events have transpired that they’d never imagined possible.
It started when the GOP toyed with the idea of a game show host as its standard bearer. A majority of the Americans who consider themselves righteous and “on the Right” decided Trump had the “right stuff” to lead the free world. This possibility seemed far-fetched, until it began happening. I never thought the Republicans would nominate the worst human being since George Wallace to run for the White House, nor did I think the most vulgar, dishonest, unqualified and unfit candidate in recent memory would receive a minority of votes sufficiently large to put him in the Oval Office.
Four years later, the country has changed in ways we’d never have predicted. Candidate Trump promised to drain the swamp, which now smells worse than ever, and would have been a sewer into the prison system, had the Justice Dept. not joined the executive branch in this cesspool. Yet they tell us not to trust “the deep state” — the functioning part of the government (e.g., the CIA, FBI and NSC) that actually gets things done — because it doesn’t slavishly parrot the policies and fiats of the “Dear Leader” enough.
This has also been extended to his handpicked lackeys, such as former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was fired for being insufficiently ruthless in running the Justice Dept. as Trump’s own personal law firm. His intensely obsequious replacement, Bill Barr, has been enough of a bootlicker to keep the boss happy, thus keeping his job.
In the Trump orbit, sycophants are considered both necessary and virtuous. Ted Cruz — whose wife Trump called “ugly” and whose father Trump called complicit in the Kennedy assassination — has failed to defend his family’s honor; instead, he’s become one of The Donald’s more craven lapdogs. The GOP’s labeling of liberals as “snowflakes” seems ironic at a time when the spineless Cruz and gelatinous Lindsey Graham typify Trump Republicans. GOP mavericks like John McCain are as extinct as the Stegosaurus.
Speaking of snowflakes, did you ever imagine you’d see the day a U.S. president would moan that the questions Leslie Stahl asked during a “60 Minutes” interview were tougher than those asked of his opponent? Trump looked like he was ready to cry after he fled this “unfair” interrogation, but we now live in a time when a tough guy who can’t face tough questions and calls a free press the “enemy of the American people” prefers to simply run from both. It’s what you’d expect from a whiny, fact-averse, habitual liar.
And who would imagine that, in the midst of a 21st century pandemic, Trump Republicans would reject science? We already knew their attitudes toward evolution, stem cell research and climate science, but the scary Trumpian warning that, if elected, Biden would, “listen to the scientists,” seems as weird as his bizarre accusation that, “Doctors get more money if someone dies from COVID.”
The Trump era has become a time when you can literally claim anything — from birtherism to “Obamagate” to “COVID is a hoax” for which “hydroxychloroquine is the cure” — just by saying it. More ominously, Trumpists are undermining our system of governance by claiming the election is rigged and rife with voter fraud, with no evidence whatsoever, just in case they lose.
Meanwhile, they work to restrict people’s ability to vote by sabotaging the postal system and by encouraging armed, thuggish “poll watchers” to suppress the vote. By the time this election is over, the Orange Man’s militias will have diminished America’s faith in free elections, which were once a hallmark of democracy.
The Right threatens a civil war if the election is closely contested. I suspect many of them believe the wrong side won the previous civil war and take exception to the self-evident statement that “Black lives matter.” Obviously, everyone’s life should matter, so why do Trump cultists consider blacks who want to protect their own lives to be anti-American radicals? Could it be because American exceptionalism has become largely about white supremacy, and reflects the views of Klansmen and neo-Nazis, whom our president refers to as “some good people”?
Walmart has reportedly removed guns and ammo from its shelves due to fears of potential violence brought on by a close election, and some businesses have increased insurance coverage in the face of possible looting. This situation is worsened by the president’s refusal to accept a peaceful transfer of power should he lose. He’s stated that he could lose only if the Democrats cheated, and no prominent GOP leaders oppose his unwillingness to respect the decision of the American people in a free election.
Many Americans have lost respect for their country and their countrymen. Even if Trump loses, nearly half the nation will have voted for a buffoonish bigot responsible for thousands of deaths, who’s no friend of democracy or the U.S. electoral system. And should he be reelected, it will be as hard to get his first Trump-Biden debate performance out of my head as it will be to “unsee” the image of him dancing to the Village People’s “YMCA” at his campaign rallies.
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