When David Letterman retired not long ago from almost 30 years of late night television, I thought the opening scene on his final show was especially unique. It featured ex-presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and current president Barack Obama all repeating the same statement-“America’s long-lasting national nightmare is finally over”. It was obviously made in reference to the fact that Letterman was retiring from television broadcasting. Letterman then looked at Obama, the last president to make this pronouncement and said-“Come on, you guys are just kidding, right?” Obama then stared back at him with a harsh, stern look on his face, as if to indicate that this was no laughing matter. Letterman then had a look of shock and dismay on his face, as if he’s suddenly wondering if he was, indeed, America’s long national nightmare. It was a subtle but funny bit, well played by all participants. And while David Letterman was not, of course, America’s long, national nightmare, the election of 2016, which ends tomorrow, would certainly qualify for that title.
The election from Hell, as it has been defined in many circles, wound up being a contest between the two most despised figures on the current election scene. The invective and quality of meanness hurled at each other by the two participants, was virtually unprecedented. Today, finally, is the last day that we, the public, will have to endure such mean-spirited TV ad mudslinging, as well as serial mendacity. But the worst possible scenario for tomorrow’s balloting would be if the election results were not conclusive. With the polls showing that the contest is tightening, a clear winner might not be determined by tomorrow night. If there are narrow margins in key states, recounts will be demanded and charges of a “rigged election” will almost certainly emanate from the Trump camp. Court fights will ensue and threats of violence will almost certainly be heard. It could be a replay of the 2000 presidential election, which Al Gore actually won, but which victory was handed to George W. Bush by the Supreme Court, who decided in December, that Bush had won the state of Florida’s 29 electoral college votes. This decision was based on a vote tally by Florida’s Republican Secretary of State, who claimed that Bush was ahead in that state by a couple of hundred votes out of millions cast. The Supreme Court, by a vote of 5 to 4 backed her decision not to allow a state-wide recount. Bush was then declared president even though Al Gore had won the popular vote by several millions.
The current election polls have been narrowing since James Comey, FBI director, announced on day 11 before the election, that the FBI was reopening what was thought to be a closed case regarding Clinton’s email debacle. It seemed to be the last straw against voting for Clinton by the undecideds. (Still hard to believe that people could remain undecided, after all that has ensued since more than a year ago.) Then, yesterday Comey once again reversed course, and stated that no new evidence was found that would warrant a criminal indictment of Hillary. But this latter statement may have come too late to save Clinton’s candidacy. If anything, Clinton should have been taken to task for felony stupidity. Knowing that she had presidential aspirations, she recklessly established servers in her home to send and receive emails, including work related email, some of which contained classified government information. A clear violation of State Department protocols. But worse still, it gave her Republican opposition a club to batter her over the head with. This is why Democrats lose elections-breathtakingly gross political incompetence.
So tomorrow may finally end America’s long-suffering nightmare, or it might just get worse. If Hillary wins, as damaged as she is, the country and its democratic processes will nevertheless survive. But if Trump edges out a victory, the republic that Ben Franklin gave us 240 years ago, with the proviso that “if we can keep it,” will likely be extinguished. Trump will rule the U.S. as his buddy, Vladimir Putin rules Russia. Which is Mafia-style, with Putin being the boss of bosses, or the godfather, reigning over a system of crony capitalism, whereby his cronies get all the capital and the rest of the Russian populace is left to drown their sorrows in cheap Russian vodka. Russia does go through the motions of having national elections, but the outcomes are always predetermined in Putin’s favor. Talk about “rigged” voting. There is a congress, but it acts as a rubber stamp for Putin’s initiatives. Court decisions, also, always go in Putin’s favor. To take the Russian populace’s mind off how bad their economy and standard of living are, Putin initiates wars in the Crimea, in the Ukraine, (which have now cost thousands of lives), and more recently in Syria where the death toll at Russian hands is also in the thousands. I might add that, like Trump, Putin is also a pathological narcissist, that doesn’t take too kindly to criticism or opposition.
If Trump is allowed to enter the White House come January, look for him to rule, initially, through a series of “executive orders.” Congressional or court opposition will grow more and more meaningless and remote as time passes on. Eventually those executive orders will turn to edicts, and, as in Russia, both congress and the courts will become rubber stamps to the will of the dictator. If a sham presidential election is allowed in 2020, it will just become a reaffirmation of how wonderful of our “dear leader” is. Eventually, the task of ruling the U.S. with an iron fist will be handed over to sons Eric and Donald Jr., when the old man decides to retire. And remember, above all else, that pathological narcissists never like to get their egos bruised, and never take kindly to those that would dare such foolish behavior.