Katy Burns: One month to go. Batten down the hatches!    

Monitor columnist
Published: 10/4/2020 6:30:15 AM

Just 29 days until the polls open on Election Day 2020. Actual voting has been underway in Bow – and presumably elsewhere in the state – for at least a week, thanks to a town clerk eager to accept our ballots in advance, either by mail or in person. At stake are a number of elective positions, including the governor’s office.

But the biggie – the one causing national angst – is, of course, the presidential race.

And so far, at least, the system here seems to be working.

Our absentee ballots arrived in last Tuesday’s mail. That night, we watched the presidential “debate,” although to call that unfortunate 90-minute debacle a “debate” is to stretch that word beyond any semblance of what any sane and literate person would really call a “debate.”

A more accurate description was offered by Jonathan V. Last, a contributor to Bulwark, an online conservative publication: “Well, that was awful. As in, screaming, feces-throwing-monkey ghastly.”

It was not, as Last observed, a great moment for democracy. And the fault wasn’t with Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who mostly soldiered on gamely through the whole 90-minute mess. Nor was it with moderator Chris Wallace, who did his best to keep control of his charges.

Unamazingly, the monkey role was played by none other than our very own president, one Donald Trump, who – when he wasn’t speaking himself – relentlessly interrupted both Biden and Wallace. And when he wasn’t interrupting, he glowered and grimaced, smirked, scowled, and generally did whatever he could to draw attention to himself. He postured more than a teenager at the height of adolescence.

Calling his behavior childish is unfair to children. Even kindergartners have better public manners than the 74-year-old president of the United States. And I have to wonder if his execrable behavior gave pause to Trump supporters who are parents carefully rearing their own children to avoid becoming bullies.

Small wonder that – in the midst of one seemingly endless debate interruption by our bully-in-chief – Biden asked, plaintively, “Will you shut up, man?” Trump, of course, did not.

And there’s a month to go – with two more presidential “debates” – before Election Day and an end to our collective ordeal.

It certainly was a vivid reminder of how important it is to vote in less than a month from now – or earlier. In our case, we fulfilled our civic duty Friday – well in advance – and we were not alone. The line to our clerk’s office lengthens daily, and I’m sure the same is true throughout the state.

That doesn’t mean, though, that Election Day itself won’t be a doozy, with Trump encouraging his supporters to go to the polls that day simply to monitor what’s going on – as if hordes of illegal immigrants and other ill-intentioned miscreants will be pouring from out-of-state buses and demanding ballots.

It’s a sure recipe for confusion. Particularly if those self-appointed “monitors” include the so-called Proud Boys, a thuggish conglomeration of usually armed white guys who look like casting leftovers from a cheesy 1960s B-movie about motorcycle gangs and who seem to have anointed themselves protectors of all things Trumpian.

Trump has been asked if he will advise the Proud Boys to stand down once the election arrives, and he refuses. Instead, he says, “I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully” for “bad things.”

Note that is “into the polls.” That is nothing less than a command to foster chaos in the nation’s polling places.

And, ominously, he said that the Proud Boys – remember, basically armed vigilantes – should “stand back and stand by” – words immediately adopted by the Proud Boys as their motto.

Worse, Trump – the president of the United States and the titular head of the Republican Party – has made it obvious that the national ordeal won’t be over when Election Day is done.

Because – repeatedly – he flatly refuses when questioned to tell the American people that he will commit to a peaceful transfer of power, the hitherto unquestioned hallmark of our democracy.

When, during the debate, Wallace asked the two candidates if they would urge their supporters “to stay calm while the vote is counted” and pledge “not to declare victory until the election is independently certified,” Biden answered “yes” immediately. Trump did not.

Instead, he said, he is “counting on” the Supreme Court – presumably with a new Trump-chosen justice – to “look at the ballots,” which sounds more like something happening in a banana republic than in our United States.

If that doesn’t scare any real patriot, I can’t imagine what would. And just think – we will have a nerve-wracking 78 days from the election until Inauguration Day. Happy nail biting, my fellow Americans!

(“Monitor” columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)

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