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BY BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2016
THE PAST IS GROTESQUE BUT THE FUTURE GROWS WORSE
I'm hearing some variation of this wherever I go: "Thank heaven the campaign is finally almost over. I can't stand any more of this ugliness! I so look forward to Nov. 9."
My response is always along the lines of: "The ugliness will just get worse. No matter, which of these two becomes the head of our federal government, that government will have trouble functioning. We'll constantly be facing a choice between paralysis and actions that continue the deterioration of our nation."
How's that for perky? Actually, how's that for reality? If we even know the winner of the Nov. 8 election by Nov. 9 -- or more likely, if the loser actually accepts that the other side won -- we almost certainly will be bogged down in bitter, hard feelings that threaten the remaining shreds of national unity. There will be no coming together, no rallying around Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Each has already established him- or herself as among the most unpopular people in the formerly United States of America. There's no chance the grudges will dissipate.
Various Republican leaders have made it clear that their obstructionism to the Barack Obama presidency will only intensify in a Hillary Clinton presidency. Leading dismal lights like Sens. John McCain and Ted Cruz say they will do everything they can to stop Hillary from elevating any nominee to the Supreme Court. Never mind if that turns the constitutional principle of "advise and consent" upside down; who cares as long as it appeals to the GOP base?
Not only that, but House leaders state explicitly that they will continue their harassment campaign by holding continuous oversight hearings on the Clinton emails and every other scandal, real or imagined. No matter how hard the executive branch tries, cooperation will be next to impossible. It will be the same government by crisis that has gotten us into a deep mess, with no visible plans to work together to climb out.
As a matter of fact, some Republicans, even before Election Day, are outright predicting without hesitation that if Hillary Clinton wins and becomes president, she will be impeached.
All of that pales when we ponder what happens if Donald Trump takes over the White House. After all, he is the man who has spent his entire campaign antagonizing just about every American except for dumb white guys. It is true that those in Washington who place ambition over principle, which is to say nearly everyone, will rally around the new chief executive and jostle/grovel to get a piece of the action. At least they might provide an intellectual buffer around a president who is dumber than a stump, but it won't protect against someone who is also vindictively impetuous and probably will throw one of his frequent temper tantrums at the drop of a slight, or perceived slight. With his commander-in-chief power, that will be a disaster waiting to happen, but not waiting long enough.
At any moment, his craven subordinates might have to decide whether they want to resist the orders he gives them. And his political adversaries, which is to say all the outraged millions who make up the infuriated opposition, will be in turmoil, constantly arguing whether they want to revolt and risk an all-out civil war.
What might make that moot is the actions of America's enemies, who correctly perceive that this once-great superpower will become just a shell, with a raging blowhard dominating the emptiness. Or maybe it will be Vladimir Putin who takes advantage of President Trump's naive fascination with him.
The point is that even though the campaign has disgraced the United States of America, we might look fondly back on it. There's nothing United about us, and it will be difficult to impossible for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump to bring us together. Both are considered part of our woeful problem.
(c) 2016 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.