What was it the new chief executive, Gerald Ford, said as the old one, Richard Nixon, had just flown the coop? “My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.” It was Aug. 9, 1974, when the Nixon presidency became history. He had been consumed by the overlapping Watergate scandals. 
There are so many differences between the “Tricky Dick” nightmare of more than 26 years ago and Disgusting Donald’s Hategate (or Liegate or Incompetencegate or Stupidgate, whatever you want to call his handiwork) of today, accompanied by the sycophancy of partisans who should have known better but sold out. The once proud Republican party has been reduced by Trump to the Proud Boy Republicans. 
This nightmare is nowhere near over. We have only sleepwalked into the final weekend of this nearly four-year horror show that turned the White House into a horror house filled with Trump and his unprincipled enablers. 
Outside the gates a poisonous world threatens each and every one of us: a pandemic made worse by the ineptitude of the team Donald Trump had assembled to go along with his personal dishonesty. He convinces gullible followers that the coronavirus will “miraculously” disappear, he promotes one bogus cure after another, insists that the experts are nowhere near as smart as he is and makes the preposterous argument that everything is really a connivance of the “deep state” and those of us in “fake news.” “Now, with them you can’t watch anything else,” Trump declares. “You turn it on COVID COVID COVID COVID COVID COVID COVID COVID COVID COVID. ... By the way, on Nov. 4 you won’t hear about it anymore.” 
He and his cheering super spreader crowds are oblivious to the huge spike in cases right now, a ghastly 559-thousand in one week, 9 million since the pandemic began. The United States is tragically approaching 300-thousand COVID deaths. 
The absurdity of his blathering is matched by the astounding foolishness of the millions of people who treat his word as gospel. 


But finally we would seem to be close to the end ... Election Day. So we should know in a few days whether Joe Biden can restore our national sanity or if Donald Trump will finish his authoritarian takeover. 
Wait a minute — we probably won’t know. Trump and his henchpeople have been suppressing votes for years, undermining the rights of anyone who would entertain the thought of going to the ballot box and registering disapproval of them. And if suppression doesn’t work, they threaten to pull off what amounts to a coup d’etat, tying up the normal processes and the country’s tradition of a peaceful transition of power. 
Unless there is a massive vote against Trump, he and his army of lawyer-nihilists intend to fabricate what amounts to a pretend legal barricade, while his heavily armed militias are standing by to intimidate the citizens before, during and after the election with their version of vigilante justice. 
But let’s suppose everything is finally ironed out, and Donald Trump’s days in the White House are numbered. His two and a half month gap still allows plenty of time for his force of malefactors to further damage the remnants of what’s left of the dis-United States. 
Even at its best, the ongoing election cycle is never over. Our sigh of relief will be short-lived. After all, how can the cadre of political consultants make money? Almost instantly and insanely we will start the fundraising for the next competition, in 2022, the midterm battle for control of Congress. And as for 2024, both parties will begin their campaigns for the next presidency, particularly the Republicans. Their candidates are already lining up. If Donald Trump is defeated for re-election, he could run again. He would have served only one of his constitutionally allowed two terms. 
So, no, the nightmare is never over. In fact, the bad dream can only get worse. Except that it’s not a dream; it’s harsh reality. 

© 2020 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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