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In the late afternoon of Thursday, August 6, 2020, the controversial, much loved by some, much loathed by others, President of the United States visited this affluent gated community on Lake Erie where my wife, 14-year old “pup,” and I lived. The anchor of the landlocked, marina-based enclave is a beautiful old mansion that serves as a social club and gathering place for its members. Some of the club members decided it would be a fine venue for a re-election campaign fundraiser. They were not wrong.

The mansion is grand, stately, and offers glorious views, particularly when the sun sets over the Great Lake.

The week leading up to the event was filled with heavy equipment and contractors. A large temporary party tent, supplemented with a gentle, railed staircase from the mansion, was constructed to accommodate those who would pay tens of thousands of dollars to rub elbows with the President. The morning of the fundraiser dawned fall-like and chilly, perfect for a walk around the marina with our old dog, who had a pep in his step because of the unseasonably cool temperature. The day bloomed with sunshine and blue sky carrying scattered, cottony clouds.

What had been a single lawn sign for the President’s election opponent across from the entrance gate on Wednesday mushroomed to a hundred by Thursday afternoon.

Local police, Cleveland police, and police from surrounding suburbs arrived in force. There was a portable jail in the back of a truck. It seemed arrests were anticipated. There were ambulances and emergency vehicles, vest-clad German Shepherds sniffing for explosive materials, unmarked black SUVs and white panel vans, cops in full combat gear created an operations center in the marina parking lot.

Protesters gathered.

Blaring, discordant music assaulted our senses. Chants of “Fuck the Police” fought with chants of “Trump! Trump! Trump!”

There were signs…

  • Fuck Trump
  • Stop the Racist Built Wall
  • #BLM

…and countersigns:

  • Keep America Great
  • All Lives Matter
  • Trump 2020

The protest leader carried a large rainbow flag.

He used a bullhorn and alternated between the clever and the obscene, the pensive and the filthy; intellectual discourse on his perceived evils of the two-party system and calls for social goods interspersed with expletive-filled tirades hurled at the cops.

And then there was the other side; literally and figuratively.

On the north side of the gate were the President’s supporters (and non-supporters, like my wife and me, who were plunged into the milieu because we lived there). Grandiose costumes were the theme: red hats with slogans and clothing festooned with various iterations of the American flag. It promoted a disheartened feeling in this observer to see what should be a symbol of unity (hey, it’s right there in the title: UNITED States of America) be seemingly co-opted by one “side” in our cold civil war.

Black Lives Matter!” in an insistent chant, responded to by “All Lives Matter!” The semantic tennis match failed to soften either side’s point of view.

The beautiful people were bused in “luxury coaches” through the tumult and drama.

They wore suits and ties, cocktail dresses and heels. Freshly distributed blue-gray masks emphasized their non-diverse makeup; what some refer to as “real ‘Mericans.” They had been tested offsite for the genetic material indicative of the presence of the novel coronavirus. Only those with negative results were permitted on the buses and access to the event.

The theater played out over two hours as lovers and haters, supporters and protesters, and the inconvenienced but curious residents waited for the pomp and circumstance of a President’s arrival. The highlight arrived: a dozen helmeted motorcycle cops in their finest uniforms, thunderous sirens, blue lights blazing, preceded the motorcade of police vehicles and limousines through the gate. The President’s elongated Cadillac, known as The Beast, passed at a speed that would precipitate a ticket for us mere mortals, its grill lights and headlamps flashing, grill-mounted U.S. flags waving in the wind. iPhones took pictures, banners waved, people shouted and pointed and then…over in seconds. Time for dinner; show’s over, nothing to see here, move it along.

After a dinner of shrimp salad and sparkling water, we retreated to our balcony overlooking the harbor that opens to Lake Erie, the feting of and fundraising for the President occurring a hundred yards away but invisible to us in the hastily constructed tent on the mansion’s east side.

Beyond the languorous tiger grass flowing in the breeze and greenery edging the marina was a group of Presidential supporters.

They gathered near our neighbor’s kayaks that occupied the slip next to Geraldo Rivera’s classic old Chris-Craft grand runabout. They wore MAGA hats and TRUMP/PENCE t-shirts, Uncle Sam top hats, Old Glory vests, stars and stripes shorts. One member of the group, sartorially distinct in a drab olive-green t-shirt and khaki shorts, was showing his phone to the others.

A moment of inspection, a glimmer of realization, and excitement gushed from Madam Old Glory as she heaped effusive praise on what I can only speculate was an image of the Beast.

“You got it!” she shrieked.

“Yeah!” he bellowed.

The phone was passed and each unmasked member of the group participated in a crescendo of delight, all gleeful over the image. Congratulations were in order.

The woman with the flag shorts offered the photographer an overjoyed “high-five.”

The entire group joined. Rather than shouting “HIGH FIVE” to begin the ritual, she yelled, with a huge smile on her face and enthusiasm in her voice:

“COVID TIME!” With that, they performed the ceremonial high five and giggled down the path away from us.

My wife and I looked at each other in disbelief at what we had heard.

A deadly disease that had brought so much pain to our country was used as a happy accompaniment to celebrate what, at bottom, was a picture of a car with an important person inside.

It was the 75th anniversary of the day that the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, which led to the end of World War II some days later. I leave the parallels, if there are any, of man’s inhumanity to man to the reader to ponder.


It is nearly four years later. COVID is quiescent, but bovine-mediated bird flu lurks. The year 2021 brought our country a new President and with it, the notion that the country had pressed the reset button. In the fall, we will consider the same two presidential candidates. Will the cold civil war flare hot? Will our experiment in Democracy continue or move perilously to the far political right? I could make a prediction, but it surely would not age well.

Dan Farkas

Dr. Daniel H. Farkas is a molecular pathologist who has published extensively and spoken on the topic internationally. Dan Farkas, on the other hand, is an itinerant New Yorker living just outside The D. His joys in life come from creative writing, photography, the music of his youth, his wife and kids, and sometimes the NY Rangers. #LGM

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