"... and nobody gets hurt ..."


Although it is quite dated now, one of the most popular TV shows of the mid-’70s was Welcome Back Kotter, with Gabe Kaplan in the title role, as well as John Travolta and Robert Heyges. Kaplan played a teacher of a remedial class, nicknamed “the Sweathogs,” of which he himself had been a member when he attended the school. Travolta, in the role that launched his career, played the too-cool-to-learn Vinny Barbarino, while Heyges played the thug-wannabe Juan Epstein.

In one episode, Vinny decided he wanted to be class president, so he ran for the office. And Juan decided to make himself Vinny’s campaign manager.

Juan came up with a pretty catchy campaign slogan, which he promoted at every opportunity. Unfortunately for Vinny, it probably wasn’t the most endearing slogan, particularly as Juan – thug-wannabe that he was – tried his own strong-arm methods of persuasion on those less than totally receptive to Vinny’s candidacy.

The slogan? Oh, it was very straightforward: “Vote for Vinny and nobody gets hurt.”

And for those who don’t remember the episode (or the series), Vinny tied with his arch-opponent, a smart-alecky semi-regular girl character, with four votes. A third candidate, however, got something like 100 votes to crush the both of them.

Now: as a famous comedian of yesteryear once said, I told you that story to tell you this one. Fast-forward from 1975 to 2020, to another election.

Only this election is not a class election but a presidential election. The election slogan, however, might as well be essentially the same, based on what we are hearing from the supporters of one of the candidates: Vote for Joe and nobody gets hurt.

I wish I were making this up. But:

“If people don’t have adequate access to the ballot, I mean that’s the stuff on which revolutions are built. If you begin to deny people the capacity of your democracy to work ... we have an inherent right to challenge that.” Former Secretary of State and 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry said that at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit on June 19, 2020.

Of course, the evidence of inadequate access to the ballot is nonexistent, especially as he presented it to foreigners – but the narrative of vote suppression no doubt means to justify the demand for mail-in ballots to all and sundry, with a veiled threat of violence otherwise.

Vote for Joe and nobody gets hurt.

Rosa Brooks, law professor at Georgetown University and co-founder of the Transition Integrity Project, supposedly “built a series of war games,” gathered participants “and asked them to imagine what they’d do in a range of election and transition scenarios.”

(Oh, boy! I’ve been a wargamer for about 50 years. Let’s see what they came up with.)

“A landslide for Joe Biden resulted in a relatively orderly transfer of power,” wrote Brooks in a Sept. 3 Washington Post op-ed. “Every other scenario we looked at involved street-level violence and political crisis.”

Izzatso? Maybe because of the assumptions under which they asked (instructed?) Trump team to act? “In each scenario ... the players assigned to simulate the Trump campaign ... was ruthless and unconstrained right out of the gate,” Brooks said, as quoted in the Daily Caller, “and Team Biden struggled to get out of reaction mode.”

But why would Team Trump be “ruthless and unconstrained?” To the contrary, isn’t that what we have seen from those who have been known enemies (not opponents, enemies) of Trump since before the last election? Did they bother exploring other scenarios? Or, like the Imperial Japanese Navy’s war game before the Battle of Midway in June 1942 (which they lost, as predicted in the war game), did they discard any results that did not reinforce their initial assumptions? And then publish the results of the rigged war game as if it were a legitimate examination of the situation?

Vote for Joe and nobody gets hurt.

“Does anyone believe there will be less violence in America if Donald Trump is reelected?” Joe Biden himself tweeted at 11:32 a.m. on Aug. 31. The obvious suggestion is that the violence will stop if Americans elect him instead of Trump.

Vote for Joe and nobody gets hurt.

There are other not-so-veiled threats, and calls for more protests – you know, “mostly peaceful” – from people like Barack Obama, but you get the idea:

Vote for Joe and nobody gets hurt.

Gary Exelby is a reporter for the Paragould Daily Press. He can be reached at gexelby@paragould dailypress.com.

Gary Exelby is a reporter for the Paragould Daily Press. He can be reached at gexelby@paragoulddailypress.com.

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