Years ago, on my wedding night I was stopped by the police. While crossing the Missouri River bridge at Waverly I was behind a very slow-moving truck. At the top of the hill, after seeing no vehicles coming, I passed him. Next thing I know, flashing blue lights in the rear view, and I got pulled over. The cop asked me if I had seen the stop sign. No. Well you ran right through it. Oh. This is my wedding night, officer, give me a break. Sorry, can’t do that, but if you want, I could see if the judge could be summoned to hear your plea. However, he’s at the ball game and his son is the quarterback. Don’t think he’d be very happy to leave. No, don’t think I want to disturb him. OK, here’s your ticket. Come back Monday to traffic court and take it easy.
On Monday I drove back to Waverly. Traffic court was held in a room at the feed store. The judge was behind a folding table, and there was a little American flag, the kind that decorated cakes, stuck in the corner of the plaster by his side. After sitting through hearings of Billy Bobs and Bobby Joes who apparently slept off benders in the local jail over the weekend, my case came up. The officer who ticketed my told the judge that I had “plum run right through” the stop sign. I didn’t deny that I plum did. The judge looked at me, a white boy, and said by rights he could fine me more, but fifteen dollars would take care of it. I wrote out the check and left.
Now, years later, I wonder what my experience would have been if I were Black? Would I have been arrested, handcuffed, and thrown in jail with Billy Bob and Bobby Joe? Or worse? I don’t believe the judge would have let me go for fifteen bucks. Or maybe I’m jaded.
In 1968, Richard Nixon was the law and order candidate. Actually, George Wallace was even more law and order, but too extreme for the electorate. After the debacle of the Democratic Convention in Chicago, it was hard for Hubert Humphrey to claim that mantle. We all know the result: Richard Nixon, champion of the Silent Majority and Mr. Law and Order, won.
Now our current Commander in Chief is trying to claim the Law and Order mantle. Claims if Joe Biden wins the presidency middle class white women in the suburbs will not be safe. With the coronavirus raging and the economy in the tank, it is his only card. He blames the unrest in major cities on liberal Democrats who don’t want to dominate the streets. He’ll show them by sending in unmarked federal troops to the cities, whether or not local officials want them. Law and Order.
Eighty percent of the people in the country think we’re headed in the wrong direction, according to latest polls. Not a good sign for an incumbent president. A hundred days before the November general election, and anything can happen. However, the signs are now after the election we will be experiencing a different Order. Plum straight.