Even some 600 miles away from the nearest U.S. border, we can’t escape the roaring chaos surrounding the 2020 presidential election. It reminds me of Thomas Paine’s memorable words in 1776: “These are times that try men’s souls.”
Indeed, Thomas: both men’s souls and minds.
|Uncle Rudy has a Halloween surprise.|
Wednesday, on a typically beautiful, cool and clear San Miguel evening, Stew and I went to dinner at La Frontera, a favorite hangout of San Miguel expats, thanks in equal parts to the hospitality of the owner, Noren, and her dynamite meatloaf recipe, quite possibly the best in North America. I usually settle on her brisket, though, which I find equally terrific. You dine socially distanced, of course, at umbrella tables spaced over the large outside seating area. Lovely.
After we sat down, a long-time friend joined us, and passed on an alarming story she had heard from the president of the homeowner’s association of the residential development where she owns a modest house, in a small town outside of Dallas.
The rumor from up north, she said, was that in the days preceding the election, an unspecified number of Black Lives Matter and Antifa operatives were going to gather at the parking of an elementary public school nearby, and from there, go on to vandalize and torch this otherwise placid, and totally unremarkable, neighborhood.
A panel truck would provide the leftist mob with banners and other implements of mayhem. Molotov cocktails, M16s, baseball bats, rocks, tear gas canisters, crowbars? It wasn’t clear, but frightening nonetheless.
Funds for this leftist/socialist/radical Mardi Gras, supposedly come from none other than George Soros, a Hungarian-born American billionaire, patron of liberal organizations in the U.S. and other parts of the world, and go-to voodoo doll of right-wing conspiracists. He’s Jewish, too, wouldn’t you know.
As they say in Texas: Mercy!
I listened quietly, perhaps with a slight smirk on my face, and waited for a punchline that we could share, as in, “Isn’t this nutty? ha, ha!” But there was none coming. My friend, a smart, sober and very well educated woman seemed to believe the story and was duly alarmed.
This story may sound bat-shit crazy, defying any common sense, but no more so than a myriad other tales swirling in the right-wing alternative galaxy. It doesn’t reflect so much on my friend’s sanity or discernment, but on the state of what passes for civic dialogue today.
Or have you heard the one about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, and his laptop? It first appeared in the New York Post, following a news tip from Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer and roving ambassador of sleaze.
Initially, even Fox News smelled hooey, but then its on-air personalities embraced the story, with the fervor of Apaches on the warpath. Cries of “Bombshell, Bombshell! Bombshell!” were heard.
The Wall Street Journal, controlled by the Murdoch family, along with Fox News —and hardly a liberal scandal sheet—took a pass on this “scandal,” along with the New York Times, the Washington Post and other “fake news” outlets, a cabal committed, you will hear, to torpedoing Trump’s reelection bid.
The president joined the alarum, demanding that Attorney General Bill Barr name a special prosecutor, to investigate Biden’s role in a “criminal enterprise,” and even Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Trump wanted his attorney general and FBI director to dig up some dirt on the Democrats—anything—that would help his failing campaign. He trumpets various conspiracies at his rallies, and shouts of “lock ’em up,” are heard.
Or the one that U.S. Navy Seals, under Obama’s orders, didn’t really kill Osama bin Laden but a body double, and that the real bin Laden is living maybe in Iran?
This particularly ludicrous “bombshell” originated in the QAnon universe, an incubator of loony theories about Satanic cults and pedophilia in the Democratic ranks, and it was retweeted by the president.
The actual U.S. Navy Seal who personally killed bin Laden scoffed at the story. The Biden campaign tweeted that Trump is unhinged.
The most dangerous of Trump’s confections, though, is that the very electoral system—the keystone of the America’s democracy—is hopelessly corrupt or “fishy,” as one of his propagandists repeated recently.
You see, Trump must win on Nov. 3, and if he doesn’t, it’s because the system is rigged.
If Trump loses, as it seems ever more likely, don’t expect the grace and respect for American institutions that Sen. John McCain displayed when he lost to Barack Obama in 2008 (as cited by conservative columnist George Will):
“Sen. [Barack] Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day — though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her Creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise. . . . And my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude . . . to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Sen. Obama and my old friend, Sen. Joe Biden, should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.”
Ah, the good old days—the all-American way to concede defeat. Instead, we’re likely to get more lies and conspiracies—and whining—as Trump, sensing likely defeat, goes for broke, and warns of mayhem the day after.
But most Americans in fact seem to be on to Trump and his corrupt ways, and are stampeding to the polls in record numbers in early voting. And as the campaign mercifully comes to an end, the Democrats have more than twice as much money to spend as the Republicans.
The end of four years of insanity is close at hand. If you want to check exactly how close, just check this election countdown clock. It’ll help you get through these few days left.