For the last six or eight months, I have to confess, we’ve done a rather poor job of keeping up with current events, world affairs and national elections. A lot of our time has been spent working outdoors, and most of our accommodations have had pretty spotty internet access. So the majority of our online minutes have been used to conduct essential business, post the occasional travel update, and stay in touch with our closest friends and family.
This month, however, has been different, as we’ve been doing some house sitting, mostly indoors, in a hamlet much closer to a town, where the internet access is just peachy. So when Americans went to the polls earlier this week, as they do every four years, to cast their lot for whomever they deem to be the lesser of two evils, we knew all about it. (Spoiler alert: evil triumphed again, by the thinnest of margins.)
Due to the nine hour time difference, we slept—for better or worse—through the highest drama of the election night vote count. But in the morning we discovered, as usual, that half the country were pretty pleased with themselves and the results, while the other half appeared to be quite disappointed, distraught, or even downright nasty. In America, as I understand it, a person is still innocent until proven guilty, but the fact that the prevailing candidate has been accused of raping an adolescent girl has made him really unpopular in certain circles.
Be that as it may, we watched him address an uproarious crowd of supporters and promise, as President, to make the country extra super good again. Traditionally, the President is joined by his number two man, the Vice-President, but in this case the proud and loud-talking speaker was not joined by his helper, and no mention was made of the scrawny white-haired governor. (Everyone waiting to catch a glimpse of his foreign-born super-model trophy wife was equally disappointed.) I guess we can look forward to a President who knows how to get things done without always turning to his underling for help and support. Fair enough. I always thought teamwork was for Chinamen anyway.
It felt like we had to wait all day for it, but shortly before dinner we finally got to see the concession speech from the other contender. Apparently a lot of folks were hoping this person was going to be the first woman to assume the title of U.S. President. After watching the speech, I wasn’t so sure. I always thought women were supposed to be the softer, gentler, more sensitive of the species. Call me sexist, but the person at the podium, after suffering perhaps the most humiliating political defeat in the history of human civilization, spoke calmly, clearly, without a crack in her voice or a hint of moistness in her eyes. More android than woman. Still, everyone agreed that she put up a good fight, strangely winning more votes than the man who defeated her. (A grand total of 59.9 million votes in all, compared to his 59.7, in a nation of 319 million inhabitants.)
But my favorite part of this whole horrendous affair came when the lady’s would-be Vice-President threw out a line of William Faulkner. It’s not an easy move to make. Over the course of our travels—I kid you not—I’ve tried on two separate occasions to make a little light conservation about Mississippi’s greatest novelist, with absolutely no success at all. I just hope the well-read statesman wasn’t making a habit of this in his earlier campaign speeches, because if so, I fear it may very well have cost him the election.
In the meantime, everyone we meet here in Europe wants to compare the orange-haired clown to some goose-stepping German with a stubby little mustache. Which is pretty absurd. I’ve looked at the pictures and they look nothing alike. So onward we march, down the mountain into Spain, back over the hill to France, or straight ahead into the unknown. Doesn’t make much difference to us at this point, so long as there’s Heinz catsup and Jiffy peanut butter.