Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? What really happened in Roswell, New Mexico back in 1947? What is the true story behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy? Did Neil Armstrong really step on the surface of the moon, or was it filmed on a sound stage?
Our need to question conventional wisdom and reality can be seen in our love for television shows like the “X-Files” and our fascination with Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. Most of these musings are harmless. Unfortunately, in today’s polarized climate the dark underbelly of conspiracy theories is seen clearly with QAnon and InfoWars.
One “theory” making the rounds on social media is whether Donald Trump actually has COVID-19. True believers think Trump is faking his illness in order to arrest Hillary Clinton for running a satanic pedophile ring. On the other hand, his critics think he is faking his illness to distract the public from his many failings and to secure sympathy from voters.
You would have to be pretty cynical to believe these ideas, but pretending to be sick makes a lot of sense when you consider his dumpster fire of a campaign. September started off with the report, independently verified by multiple news outlets including Fox, that Trump had called our fallen veterans “losers and suckers.” About a week later we learned that Trump knew the dangers of COVID-19 back in January, did virtually nothing about it, and continues to lie about the virus. The next bombshell to land was that Trump has paid virtually no income taxes for the past 15 years. More concerning, though, is his $421 million in personal debt. Normally, anyone with that kind of debt would be considered a national security risk. It is no wonder that so many former intelligence officials and military officers support Joe Biden for president. Then there was his disgraceful behavior at the first debate. Instead of answering questions, he interrupted, insulted, and talked over Joe Biden and Chris Wallace.
A much more serious conspiracy is Trump’s efforts to undermine confidence in the November election. The staggering amount of misleading or threatening statements should appall anyone who genuinely cares about our process of free and fair elections.
Trump has refused to commit to the peaceful transfer of power by accepting the election results. To quote the president, if we “get rid of the ballots ... there won’t be a transfer ... there’ll be a continuation.” He has repeatedly made unfounded claims that mail-in ballots will be fraudulent. Trump’s own commission on election corruption was disbanded because they found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Trump has made no secret that he hopes the election will be decided by the Supreme Court. This is why he is trying to steamroll Amy Coney Barrett through the Senate with unprecedented speed while at the same time derailing any attempts at passing a COVID-19 relief package.
The efforts to sabotage the election go far beyond the White House. The Republican governor of Texas has tried to limit the drop-off boxes to one per county. Carroll County has six boxes, and counties in Texas cover a lot more area. The Republican-led House of Representatives in Pennsylvania wants to curtail when voters can request an absentee ballot and limit when the ballots can be counted. In Wisconsin, another battleground state, Republicans have cut back the early voting window and instituted stringent absentee ballot guidelines. The RNC is involved in litigation designed to limit access to voting in at least 17 states. These efforts, coupled with the administration’s attacks on the US Postal Service, have one goal in mind: the disenfranchisement of as many voters as possible. The final horror is Trump’s call for his supporters to “Stand back and stand by.” If inviting extremists to disrupt peaceful elections isn’t unAmerican, I don’t know what is.
The only solution is a landslide victory for the Biden/Harris team. If you know Biden’s history, you know his moral decency. You know his record of accomplishment in the Senate and as vice president. Biden knows how to protect health care, the environment, Social Security; the list goes on. We need to restore dignity to the White House, so this is no time to stay home or vote for a third party candidate. The Biden/Harris victory must be so overwhelming that even Trump will have to concede defeat. Maybe he’ll blame it on aliens.
Tom Scanlan writes from Westminster. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For any member of the community who would like to submit a guest community voices column for publication consideration, it should be approximately 700 words and sent to email@example.com.