The Scariest Horror Story of All
I love Halloween, especially the candy (where I live, I get few costumed scavengers). It’s good for the economy, too, and for one day just forget about the health risk. Horror fiction has always had its coterie of fans. We like imaginary monsters because they offer relief and escape from the real monsters among us — and they are many. This year the season has gotten an early boost from a recent pathology of creepy clowns appearing all around the country. Trying to lure children into the forest, chasing people with knives, there have been sightings in over 30 states with nearly as many arrests. But the clown who creeps me out the most is an orange-faced goblin with a weird fright wig, Donald J. Trump.
His supporters are scary enough too; beating up protesters, tweeting that Hillary should be shot or hanged as a traitor, and worse. Trump keeps egging them on, implying that maybe 2nd Amendment people can do something about her, that since she doesn’t like guns, that she should disarm her Secret Service detail, and “see what happens to her then.” As bad as all that is, what’s really tightening my sphincter this Halloween is that this crazy son of a bitch could actually be elected President. Let me tell you how.
- This may be the first presidential election in our history in which more people actually vote against a candidate, rather than for one. As New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes in her new book, The Year of Voting Dangerously: “Both parties nominated the only person who could possibly lose to the other.”
- That means voter turnout could be at a record low, and low voter turnouts always favor the Republicans.
- Election fraud — This will be the first presidential election since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, and states controlled by Republicans have been purging the voter rolls and passing voter ID laws like there’s no tomorrow. Their phony braying about voter fraud is a complete canard; the idea is to disenfranchise those likely to vote for Democrats. Then there are the Russians hacking into our computer systems. They may just as easily be able to hack the election for Trump.
- Most of the country votes on electronic machines owned by private entities, with proprietary software, meaning election officials have no access. You should all know by now how vulnerable these machines are to tampering. Even if you vote by mail the ballots are tabulated by these same machines.
- Don’t forget the colossal stupidity of the American electorate. The media is largely responsible, for choosing ratings-grabbing sensationalism over informing their viewers. But Americans are equally culpable for not being informed, or not taking the time to inform themselves, of issues that directly affect them. As they say in the slasher movies: “The call is coming from inside the house!” In other words, the barbarians aren’t at the gates, they’re in the voting booths.
- That could very well lead to the kind of to-hell-with-it-they’re-all-corrupt attitude that may lead people to say: Screw it, I’m gonna vote for the non-politician just to spite those bastards. Finally, the American public has a chance to stick it to the man.
- Oh, and by the way, Hillary is a WOMAN! Misogyny runs even deeper and further back in the American DNA than racism. It goes back to the Old Testament. That’s why it took 50 years longer for women to get the vote than black men. Recent revelations of Trump’s behavior towards women echo the rape culture among lesser evolved men, and they too are legion. And his supporters have been cluster tweeting to repeal the 19th Amendment, the one that gave women the vote. Women are too emotionally unstable to be trusted with the vote. You know, the hormones and all that.
It’s like the metaphorical perfect storm, in which many unlikely things and events converge to bring about an unexpected outcome. Economists call it a “Black Swan” event. All these things have converged, and now we could be staring into the abyss. And Donald J. Trump is staring back at us. What kind of America would we see then? If we go by what he’s promised, a ban on Muslims entering the U.S., and a national database to track Muslims who are American citizens. A federal deportation force to pack up 11 million undocumented workers and what — load them onto boxcars at gunpoint? He wants to loosen the libel laws so he can arrest journalists (or anyone else) who write bad things about him. He wants to bring back torture in the form of waterboarding — “and much more.” He says he wants to bomb the families of terrorists. As to nuclear weapons, he asked a military advisor three times: “If we have them, why can’t we use them?” And with his mental instability and hair-trigger, well, there goes my sphincter again.
It’s always fascinating, how art mirrors reality. In 1935, Sinclair Lewis wrote a book, It Can’t Happen Here.” A character named Buzz Wintrip rides a populist wave to his party’s nomination — in Cleveland, of all places! He’s portrayed as vulgar, almost illiterate, a habitual liar, continually attacking the media and warning of non-existent threats, with ideas that are almost idiotic. In the 1957 movie “A Face in the Crowd,” Andy Griffith plays a similar character, Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes, and the story unfolds in much the same way.
The 1983 film adaptation of the Stephen King story, “The Dead Zone,” is even more sobering. Martin Sheen, in the antithesis of his later role as President Jed Bartlett in “The West Wing,” plays a slick politician named Greg Stillson. He’s a coarse, unstable demagogue who enters the political scene seemingly out of nowhere, riding another wave of phony populism. He peddles promises but no plans, overuses the term “greatest,” and his fans eat it up with spoons. He’s swept to the White House, where he . . . well, I won’t give away the ending. Prophecies — I don’t remember who called them memories of the future. Please, for the sake of the planet, let’s make that the possible future.
This is why Trump will win the election. A great majority of working people has seen no improvement in their lives, first under 8 years of a Republican President, then 8 years under a Democratic one. Nothing has changed except that they keep falling further behind. This election will be a brick through the window of the political establishment, as I explained in point #6. A lot of people who are going to vote for him won’t admit it to anyone, but they just want a change. Trump is their last chance, and ironically, he’s the embodiment of their anger, boorishness, and ignorance. We have seen this kind of thing happen time and time again over the last hundred years; Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Milosevic, Marcos, and on and on. Maybe each of those countries also said “It can’t happen here,” just before it did. Politically unstable systems always “vomit up monsters,” as Chris Hedges writes. I love the quote attributed to Mark Twain, that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. I also like what H.L. Mencken said: “People get the kind of government they deserve, and they deserve to get it good and hard.” This country deserves Donald Trump and we’re going to get him, good and hard. Scared yet? Maybe this will do it. Earlier this summer a reporter was at a Trump rally, interviewing supporters and protesters. One Trump supporter, described as a woman in her 60s, said: “When Trump is President, he’ll get rid of people like that.” Okay, Trump hasn’t a chance of winning, I just wanted to scare you. Boo!
Wait. I just thought of something even scarier than Trump getting elected: his losing the election. Think about it. He’s been whipping up a frenzy about the election being stolen, about 2nd Amendment people doing something about Hillary, and refuses to say he’d accept the result. He’s already got his own army out there, and most of them have guns. Among their T-shirts and bumper stickers is one that says “If all else fails, vote from the rooftops.” Yikes! Trick or treat, America.