“Maple Street, USA, late summer. A tree-lined little world of front porch gliders, barbecues, the laughter of children and the bell of an ice cream vendor.
“At the sound of the roar and the flash of light, it will be precisely 6:43 p.m. on Maple Street. This is Maple Street on a late Saturday afternoon. Maple Street — in the last calm and reflective moment — before the monsters came.”
That’s the opening narrative to a memorable episode of Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone” television series. The story centers on neighbors in an idyllic suburban setting who see and hear an unidentified object flash overhead and subsequently experience inexplicable events that disrupt their peaceful coexistence.
Power and outside communication are lost, automobiles won’t start and then inexplicably do so while unoccupied, lights flicker, etc., causing disruption to the certainty all expected in their daily lives.
A boy details a wild story about mysterious forces that plant a seed in increasingly fearful minds that begin to entertain outlandish thoughts. In turn, each resident is accused of suspicious collaboration with an unseen enemy.
Hysteria and accusations fly, there’s a murder by the most conspiracy-obsessed man lashing out in fear, resulting in mayhem, each set against the other.
To the relief of many, a long and grueling presidential election season is over. In the Santa Clarita Valley and across a diverse and populous America, most would consider it a contentious one with “deplorable” polemics and emotion expressed by candidates, surrogates, media and potential voters alike.
All were focused on candidates’ character, personalities and antics rather than specific issues in the circus-like atmosphere the media whipped up to drive the viewer ratings competition.
The finalists were widely considered unfit for office, each with a record of highly unfavorable ratings.
Added to this dynamic was an ongoing FBI investigation into mishandling of classified data on unauthorized servers, compromised political party and campaign servers/accounts that revealed the unsavory machinations of machine politics and clandestine media collaboration.
On Nov. 8, American citizens made their decision and voted. While the election is still being analyzed, already it’s being considered a change election due to an outcome that surprised the political class in the Beltway, professional pollsters and other “experts,” accompanied by an often comical reaction by a media that had shed any pretense of impartiality.
Historically, the USA has experienced raucous elections starting with the inception of political parties in the contest of 1800, featuring but not limited to character assassination, calumnies and yellow journalism.
Duels with fatalities were fought over political differences, and the Civil War began because an election result favored an abolitionist.
Was this year’s election unprecedented in its negativity or unique in colorful candidates? From the perspective of history: decidedly not.
Whether you’re personally elated, devastated or cautiously sanguine about the election results, understand that we have surely experienced change and overcome adversity in our nation’s history. Our constitutional republic is robust and has completed a peaceful transfer of power over a 200-plus-year history. No one person or party has dissolved our union.
Does America face significant challenges domestically and abroad? Assuredly we do. Our economy is in the doldrums, and for the first time during a presidential term our economy hasn’t had a single year of 3 percent growth.
Too many have been left behind or are struggling to adapt to the disruption that automation and global trade present. Our K-12 education system is a calcified monopoly that’s failing to teach our children critical thinking, and higher education is a dysfunctional morass of overwrought social activism, spiraling tuition and a failure to adapt to a changing career marketplace.
Health care is in disarray due to misguided partisan legislation. Outside our boarders, once-reliable allies question our leadership, a multipolar world is chaotic, and vanquished foes again challenge world order.
As we focus on these challenges at the local, state, national and international levels, let’s not forget the reasons our union was formed.
Whatever our differences, we are still neighbors and Americans. Be considerate of your fellow citizens as we share our wonderful SCV community.
Closing narration: “The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices — to be found only in the minds of men.
“For the record, prejudices can kill — and suspicion can destroy — and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own — for the children — and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is — that these things cannot be confined — to the Twilight Zone.”
Ron Bischof is a Saugus resident.