ENTERTAINMENT

HENRY DEEDES watches America go to the polls


In national polls, Biden's lead over Trump is currently 8 percent. And that's just the conservatives

Little old Lancaster County this week turned from a normally remote enclave in Pennsylvania into a Donald Trump jamboree.

While the president was scheduled to speak to 2,000 people that afternoon, gas-guzzling pick-up trucks sped down the main street while Trump supporters gathered in the town's main bar to sip beers and praise their hero.

An elderly lady who brought her family for the day said to me, "We are only here to support the man who will make America great again."

In the midst of the burger carts and merchandise stalls, a middle-aged woman braving the drizzle explained why she was there: "This is God's land, darling, and we got away from it." He did great things. "

Such jubilant scenes of Trump worship reminded me of the last time I was in America in March, when the President, encouraged by his enemies' failed attempt to indict him, was an inviolable capo of the Republic.

Now, three days before one of the most competitive elections in American history, the political reality couldn't be more different.

Trump's campaign promise to "make America great again" has now been shattered, leaving him – as most polls predict – facing an election defeat on Tuesday.

Most devastating to Trump's presidency has been the perception of his handling of the pandemic, which has resulted in nearly 230,000 American deaths.

In addition, the protests against Black Lives Matter, inspired by the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police force in May, resulted in America turning on itself as major cities exploded in violence.

After spending the last week in the United States, the consequences of these events are evident.

Here in Washington DC, where unemployment nearly doubled to 9 percent in the past year, homelessness is widespread.

The Constitution Park area, a stone's throw from Capitol Hill, is currently a place for travelers.

On street corners and outside shops, tramps wait with outstretched arms and ask for food, not money.

In mighty New York, the world's largest city is overwhelmed by its glamor and humor. Midtown, his financial heart, is deserted.

Almost everyone who can afford it has left town, and now the Big Apple, as a sad former New Yorker told me this week, looks like an old flame that has gotten into hard times and becomes addicted to drugs.

Proud boys gather for a rally at Delta Park Vanport on September 26th. There were worrying reports in all states of arms sales soaring ahead of Election Day

Proud boys gather for a rally at Delta Park Vanport on September 26th. There were worrying reports of arms sales soaring ahead of election day in all states

No wonder then that the consensus here is not whether Mr Trump will lose to his Democratic opponent Joe Biden, whose hopelessly sclerotic campaign would be ridiculous in any other election year, but how bad.

In national polls, Biden's lead over Trump is currently 8 percent. And that's just the conservative ones.

How depressing, then, that when the Americans cast their ballots on Tuesday, the disagreement not only grew, but actually led the country to sink into an all-out civil war.

Do not you believe me? Here's how. On a secular level, we may have to wait days for a result as postal votes in this year's elections have increased significantly due to the Covid crisis.

These have to be opened and exposed to various technical requirements, so processing takes much longer.

Americans' greater concern is Trump's insistence that even the slightest hint of inappropriateness will trigger a lawsuit to hold onto the White House keys.

And should the election get closer than expected – far from impossible, given how spectacularly wrong the pollers were last time – he will have good reason to believe that he has a good chance of success.

Long, drawn-out litigation is, of course, Mr Trump's bread and butter. This is a man who forged his entire business career by suing and suing opponents and wearing them down through an expensive war of attrition. But there's more than Trump's legal battle scars that could give him the edge.

Since his election in 2016, the president has been busy filling the American judiciary with judges who sympathize with him.

Right-wing Amy Coney Barrett's affirmation in the Supreme Court on Monday further cemented the Republican majority in the US highest court.

No wonder, then, that the consensus here is not whether Mr Trump will lose to his Democratic opponent Joe Biden, whose hopelessly sclerotic campaign would be ridiculed in any other election year, but how bad

No wonder then that the consensus here is not whether Mr Trump will lose to his Democratic opponent Joe Biden, whose hopelessly sclerotic campaign would be ridiculous in any other election year, but how bad

Should an electoral battle end in the Supreme Court, as we know it happened over the Florida census when Al Gore lost to George W. Bush by only 537 votes in 2000, there is every possibility that the court will fall on Trump's side.

The ensuing constitutional crisis will make the Gore / Bush saga look like a lovers trick.

America's law enforcement agencies are already preparing for days, if not weeks, of weeks of unrest to anticipate such a scenario.

As I write, workers at my hotel in Downtown DC, a few blocks from the White House, are busy climbing buildings to protect them from rioters. Police and intelligence agents with gun violence, armed to the nines with the latest hardware, are almost more numerous than civilians.

In Texas, the National Guard is said to be deploying troops across the Lone Star state this weekend because of concerns about violent civil unrest.

Citizens are also busy preparing. There were worrying reports in all states of arms sales soaring ahead of Election Day.

The National Shooting Sport Association, the trade association for the American firearms industry, recently reported that gun sales were up 95 percent over the past year compared to that time. Ammunition sales rose by a whopping 139 percent.

A month ago, Trump supporters competed against armed militias in normally posh Louisville, Kentucky.

If the idea of ​​an outbreak of anarchy in the so-called "Land of the Free" sounds like the stuff of a dystopian novel by J. G. Ballard, it really shouldn't be.

It's hard to emphasize how torn America feels right now. For the past week, I've encountered hatred and division in zigzags across the country. And while Trump's core voters are unwavering support, much of the hatred is directed against the president.

During a trip to the state of Pennsylvania on Monday, I spoke to a Biden activist named Joan Duckenfeld who compared Trump to a fascist.

She told me: “My father fought in the Battle of Normandy, and my mother made bullets at Frankford Arsenal (a WWII ammunition factory in Pennsylvania). They were anti-fascists and I can't be less. "

At a recent vigil outside the South Lawn of the White House, I came across a woman from New York named Karen Irwin. She told me the night before that Trump-supporting thugs had arrived en masse and had torn down all the tributes taped on the wire gates.

Trump's failure to suppress racial divisions was evident in Philadelphia this week. I arrived in a city overflowing with violence early Wednesday after police shot and killed a mentally ill black man named Walter Wallace Jr. the night before.

It was a disturbing experience to hear the angry crowd in the street as they savored an evening beer in an Irish themed pub later that day.

Even the friendly acknowledgment of a grizzled barfly telling the mob "just want to kill cops" did little to alleviate my discomfort. How will it all develop on Tuesday?

Even if Trump chooses to go quietly (and given his by no means guaranteed election rigging), he still has the potential to wreak havoc in his last two months in office.

There will be a predictable amount of presidential pardons that Trump will find useful for his post-political career. To be fair, he won't be the first or last president to pull off that inappropriate farewell shot.

But far worse scenarios could play out.

Trump could sign a series of irresponsible executive orders – regulations that don't require the approval of Congress – that a Biden administration would not have to select for months or even years.

Just last week, Trump issued such an order, empowering the president to fire thousands of independently thinking officials and replace them with politically appointed henchmen who are delighted with the leader's bid.

Should Trump somehow win again, White House medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, whose dire coronavirus warnings conflicted with Trump's opposition.

Given his unpredictability, the idea of ​​Trump simply falling for his glaring retreat in Mar-a-Lago Florida to pout and hit golf balls all day might be the least-worst option for all.

Protesters are pictured up in Louisville, Kentucky, in July. If the idea of ​​anarchy outbreak in the so-called "Land of the Free" sounds like the stuff of a dystopian novel by J. G. Ballard, then it really shouldn't be

Protesters are pictured up in Louisville, Kentucky, in July. If the idea of ​​an outbreak of anarchy in the so-called "Land of the Free" sounds like the stuff of a dystopian novel by J. G. Ballard, it really shouldn't be

Of course, we should probably not completely rule out a Trump victory, and not just because of what happened last time. He was extraordinarily vigorous on the campaign, making up to four stops a day to gather his support base.

And for all its troubles, the US economy, often the biggest influencer in elections, grew an impressive 7.4 percent at the end of September.

But Donald looks defeated to me. He has shot eyes, his body language is defensive. His tone has also become increasingly tearful.

Meanwhile, over the past few years, his government departments have seen a constantly rotating door of departing employees, many of whom have simply had enough. The absence of his icy wife Melania at his side until she finally showed up in Florida on Thursday suggests that she has long been done with Washington.

What's next when Trump boots? There have been reports that the president may have set up his own Trump TV, the output of which we can assume that his right-wing friends' claim on Fox News "fair and balanced" sounds reasonable.

Not all options are so inviting or lucrative. Two months ago, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced in a lawsuit that his office had reasons to investigate the president and his companies for tax fraud related to his various business relationships.

Prosecution, worse in prison, would mean even greater humiliation than losing to a fool like Joe Biden.

And as Election Day approaches, Americans have poor choices. A presidency from Joe Biden is hardly a prospect to enjoy. The 77-year-old has been watching him closely this week, showing every sign that he's an old fool who, when sent to market for a tray of oranges, returns with a handful of bananas.

So unhappy does he appear at times that few Washington politicians expect him to even have a full term. That would mean handing it over to fellow campaigner and former California attorney general, Kamala Harris, whose flint personality may not be the unifying force America needs right now.

The alternative, however, is a president who shows an ever greater distance from reality. Even if Covid infection rates continue to rise in all US states, Trump, driven by his nuclear-powered ego, insists on letting everyone know that he has defeated the virus.

What a sad state of affairs American politics has become. How one longs for Ronald Reagan, arguably the greatest modern president, who in 1989, when he left the White House, described the United States as "the great shining city on the hill."

Whatever happens on Tuesday, it's hard to imagine the shine coming back anytime soon.

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