John Colson: It’s done — but then again, it’s not | AspenTimes.com
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John Colson: It’s done — but then again, it’s not

John Colson
Hit & Run

Finally, the end is near.

As I write these words for a Monday deadline, roughly 94 million U.S. voters (amounting to more than two-thirds of the 136.5 million ballots cast in 2016) had sent or carried in their completed ballots in the 2020 national election between Republican incumbent President Donald J. Trump and his challenger, Democrat Joseph R. Biden Jr.

In some states, such as Hawaii and Texas, the state ballot count already had surpassed the 2016 totals as of Friday, according to a report from CNN news.

Those are the facts of the moment, with the likelihood that by the time all is said and done the U.S. electorate will have logged some millions of votes more than were cast four years ago.

I find that I am a nervous wreck today, far more keyed up than I was on a similar November night four years ago, when the conventional wisdom of the time was that Democrat Hillary Clinton would beat Trump.

As we all know, Clinton did not win, and our nation and the world have endured nearly four years of the erratic, deeply dishonest, racist and anti-democratic reign of Trump.

Over the course of last weekend, we saw with startling clarity that Trump’s rabid “base” has decided it was time to take the gloves off and show their true colors.

For instance, a platoon of pickup trucks piloted by Trump supporters in Texas (who some say were acting on a suggestion from Donald Trump Jr.) surrounded and threatened the occupants of a bus carrying supporters of the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris election campaign.

No “serious” injuries were reported following the incident, which took place Friday on an interstate highway as the campaign bus was traveling from San Antonio to Austin, though it was reported that one of the Trump-backing vehicles crashed into a car driven by a Biden campaign staffer.

One of those in the Biden-supporters’ cavalcade (Biden and Harris were not on the bus) was quoted as saying the action seemed to be aimed at forcing the Biden bus off the road. Those in the “Trump Train,” as it has been dubbed, were screeching profanities and obscenities at the Biden supporters, and at one point brought the Biden bus nearly to a halt, undoubtedly scaring the hell out of the passengers and others.

Trump, of course, tweeted out a typically incendiary message to the perpetrators of this craven act of political terrorism, declaring, “I love Texas!” and referring to the attackers as “patriots” who “did nothing wrong.”

The FBI reportedly is investigating the incident, though one has to wonder how zealously that investigation will be handled given the apparent fact that Trump has talked of firing Christopher Wray, the agency’s director.

And so it goes, as we come to the end of one of the most depressing presidential races in our nation’s history.

All around the country, public officials are girding for continued violence and, at least from the tenor of news reports about rising political tensions, it is the Trump crowd that officials worry about the most.

Will we see armed protesters wearing MAGA hats storming polling places to interfere with voters and vote-counters?

I don’t know, but it’s a possibility.

In Michigan, we’ve already seen a ragtag bunch of armed militia members storm the state capitol earlier this year, and only a couple of weeks ago 13 militia members were arrested for allegedly planning to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Michigan’s secretary of state issued a directive recently that prohibited carrying firearms into any polling place. But the situation is complicated by a 2018 state Supreme Court decision that left open the question of guns in schools, which often act as polling places during elections, and the state prohibition was struck down by a state court.

In Pennsylvania, which NBC News characterized as having among the most lenient gun laws in the Northeast, law enforcement authorities have been wondering publicly about how to handle armed groups intent on disrupting the election.

The same is true for Minnesota, where civil rights groups have sued to prevent a private security firm from using armed poll watchers, calling the very idea an example of voter intimidation.

And throughout all this tension and anxiety, Trump has been loudly proclaiming that unless he wins the election, it must be considered fraudulent and invalid, just as he did in 2016.

As I have written before, we cannot entirely credit Trump for all this chaos, though he certainly loves seeing it happen and has not shied away from egging on his more militant followers. He is just a symptom of a very deep malaise in this country.

Here in Colorado, thankfully, election officials have downplayed such concerns about the safety of voting in this hyper-partisan times, particularly in rural and remote locations.

Pitkin County recently moved to beef up election security by hiring security guards and banning firearms from polling places, but in Denver and other cities around the state, the word is that officials are prepared for unrest in the days after the election, according to The Colorado Sun newspaper.

As for the results, most officials say we will not know the outcome of this election for days, or perhaps weeks, due to the heavy turnout, the ongoing and worsening COVID-19 pandemic, lawsuits, political chicanery, and any number of other causes, regardless of whether Trump, predictably but illegitimately, declares himself the winner Wednesday.

Email at jbcolson51@gmail.com.


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