Much of my yesterday was spent driving along some secondary highways and a few glorified paths of rural Howell and Ozark Counties in southern Missouri. Leaves were falling and the foliage was just beginning to be tinged with color. The waters of the White River, which I crossed several times, were calm and clear, and evidence of wildlife was everywhere. One big buck crossed the road just ahead of my front bumper, and then loped quickly into the trees and up the hill. The birds were chirping much like they did when spring arrived.
The single most prolific human marker along the roads I traveled was the abundance of political yard signs, more than I have noticed in any previous election cycle, and almost all promoting one particular candidate: Donald Trump. I did see a smattering of signs for down-ballot candidates, all Republicans, of course, but Trump signage was everywhere.
Most of the Trump signs were the small plastic ones that fit over wire standards. One family in a fairly nice house had their yard peppered with these signs - probably twenty or more. They definitely wanted all passersby to know the depth and ferocity of their support for the rich guy from Manhattan.
I saw a few of the large billboard type signs along the highway, always placed on a good clear spot for maximum viewing, and one very large homemade sign that carried the message: "Take America Back." I'm not exactly sure what that means, but the sign's creator obviously feels some degree of disenfranchisement from the current state of the nation. I guess he wants to take "his" country back from people like me. I skipped the urge to honk, assuming he would take the sound as a signal of support for his extremist views, but I did salute the sign - with an appropriate digit.
On Tuesday, November 8th, many, many people in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas will cast votes for Donald Trump and Mike Pence. They will chatter among themselves at polling places and coffee shops, swelled with pride and self-assurance that most of their friends and neighbors who are also out voting - are voting for Trump. Those same people will spend the rest of the day basking in their sure knowledge that they have just been key players in a movement that will take back their America and restore the white luster of its greatness.
They will be so damned proud.
And then the cold reality of a new day will greet them on Wednesday morning. Yes, Donald Trump will have carried Howell and Ozark Counties in Missouri, and Baxter County, Arkansas. Hell, he will have even carried Arkansas and won Missouri by a respectable margin - but he will have lost the national election and the presidency - bigly. In fact, the mainstream media will go on for days and days discussing what an awful campaign Trump ran - and how Clinton clobbered him - yugggely!
Those first few days following the election will be a critical time in America, a time when we will see if democracy continues to work and reason still prevails. Will it be a time of healing, or will rampant demagoguery, an under-educated populace, and unlimited access to firearms lead us down a different path? Will we unite and move forward, or will we continue to be two Americas?
America doesn't need to be made "great" again, or to be taken back - America needs to be made whole again. Sadly for us all, there are no Lincolns on the political horizon.