As anxiety turns to madness, we vote

We try to go about business as much as we can. Yet this is not normal. It is madness. The president rode around Walter Reed Medical Center in a hermetically sealed SUV to wave at his fans and show strength. The Secret Service was appalled. We watched in bewilderment. And at 8:05 a.m. on Monday the first of us voted at the Buena Vista County Auditor’s Office. The second came in 25 minutes later.

“If I get sick and die, well, I want my vote counted,” said that second early bird, Dr. Andrea Frantz of Buena Vista University. It came as a relief to her. She and husband Mike didn’t miss a Democratic candidate visit during the long caucus cycle, and she couldn’t wait to dress in blue and enjoy the catharsis of casting a ballot.

Classes are going OK, she said. But it is awfully difficult keeping students at a distance, and she like most of us is anxious.

Think how anxious Sen. Chuck Grassley must be at 87 and hanging around the Republican senators now quarantining with Covid. He portrays a cool by refusing tests. The old bird better not get his wings clipped as his boss Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tries to ram through Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Three senators are quarantined already. A fourth gives Democrats veto power. What you don’t know could kill you, or at least prevent you from a vote shortly after Oct. 22.

His Republican colleague, Sen. Joni Ernst, is anxious, too. She is running consistently behind Democratic challenger Theresa Greenfield, and needed to turn things around in a debate on Iowa PBS Saturday night. Who watched? Half of Iowa was tuned into Trump’s pulse and the other half was watching Iowa State play football on national TV. The victors dressed in black.

Ninety-nine people were in Northwest Iowa hospitals on Sunday as the virus surged by nearly 30 new cases over the weekend in BV County. It does not appear to be relenting. The White House is the hottest spot in the country, exceeding even Iowa.

The Storm Lake schools appear all right with their new pod system. You wonder how elementary school teachers do it. High school teachers say they like the three-hour deep dives they take in a certain topic under their new pandemic curriculum developed at Cornell College (Mount Vernon). It seems to sink in better with the students, who get that wearing masks is vital to knocking down the plague. Storm Lake football won at LeMars. Attendance was limited because Plymouth County is the latest flare-up. Schools insist that that classrooms are not the source of the surge. The food industry insists that it is not, either. Nobody really knows or is saying, which makes the atmosphere all the more tense.

It opened windy and dry when Frantz rolled up to the courthouse. Farmers hoped to stay in the fields, but fire chiefs would wish they stayed out Monday. The bean yield is modest and the corn was afflicted by drought. Four million acres had burned in California by the weekend. Dr. James Hansen, a native of Denison and the father of global warming science, came on “60 Minutes” Sunday evening to say that we can still save the planet but time is wasting. Over on CNN, the analysts were going wild on the president’s medical condition and his joyride. It makes you wonder if science can carry the day.

Good God, how I wish it would all go away. I need to get out, Dolores says, but they’re dropping like flies out there, lady.

I could not face another debate unless I am paid to watch. The senate and presidential debates made my bile boil. If you aren’t alarmed you are taking too much Valium.

Ernst demanded an apology and so did Greenfield, but you couldn’t get away from the Greenfield ads last weekend. Greenfield has the cash to carry this thing through. (And then there’s North Carolina, where incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis came down with Covid but his Democratic challenger sent sexy notes to a woman not his wife. Good God again.)

How can you vote on a relief package without a functioning Senate? Or a justice? How can we govern?

And what does it mean that the president is on drugs once reserved for goners? If he prevails he is a messenger from God meant to deliver us to greatness again, his backers attest. Trump said he would prevail, that the emergency drugs are miraculous, and that he is full of love. Just as he fell ill, Trump was launching into his familiar tirade against immigrants (having found that outright racism against Blacks was not effective). He pledged at the beginning four years ago that it would be how he ended it, with a fulsome assault on Latinos. It promised to be sickening.

The only small stroke of relief to muster was a short trip to the courthouse with a mask to fill in the little black ovals with a sanitized pen. Affairs of the past week made it urgent. Auditor Sue Lloyd can be trusted to get every vote counted. That’s a big relief.

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