A few days later, after checking my in-box for a message from the headhunter, I scanned the headlines, many of which referenced a major speech given by Schmidt in Ames, Iowa, ahead of that state’s all-important caucus formally kicking off the nominating contest. The theatrics had begun before the radio personality/presidential candidate’s address at a convention hall decorated in red, white, and blue bunting. Several hundred of his supporters, many wearing hats featuring the Comitan’s insignia—an eagle with a snake in its beak—packed the venue. Intermittently, they shouted insults at the press, who were cordoned off in a far corner of the hall, protected by several beefy security guards.
Schmidt’s current wife, a one-time stripper from Ukraine in a form-fitting dress, warmed the crowd with a short speech. One article noted that it had been hard to hear over whistles and catcalls, but she seemed pleased by the raucous response. Schmidt then appeared on stage in a dark suit and yellow tie. His radiant orange hair, worn in a pompadour, glistened in the spotlight. He waved to his supports and, turning toward the press, grabbed his crotch, prompting the crowd to erupt in cheers.
Schmidt basked in the glow for several minutes, before hugging and kissing each of the dozen American flags arranged in a line at the back of the stage. Afterward, he embraced his wife and gave her a pat on her backside. Just then, a protester holding a sign that read “Hate Isn’t American” stood up, but a man in a Comitan hat immediately punched him. Security guards, fearing for the protester’s life, accompanied him out. Schmidt praised the pugnacious Comitan.
Speaking off a teleprompter, he ominously warned that America faced an existential crisis. “I need not remind you of that which you know. It is winter in America. Legions of evildoers hiding in plain sight, testament to their fearlessness, threaten to destroy us from within and without. You know who they are. They comprise, firstly, malefactors of great wealth, whose greed is as boundless as their patriotism is limited. These stateless parasites reside in the foul fortresses of finance, where nations’ fates are at their casual whimsy. They buy and sell and sell and buy with no interest but their own. Greed is their currency, and currency is their creed.”
Schmidt had singled out for condemnation several prominent businessmen and political leaders, all of whom were either dark-skinned or Jewish, and followed with a long-winded rant about immigration. He then segued into a dark tangent about rising crime before closing on a more optimistic note.
“Friends, I am here to restore prosperity to this great land. I am here to restore law and order. I am here to restore liberty. I am here to restore freedom. And I am here to restore God Almighty. America, my friends, will be great again! Some may criticize my ambition. Some may call it grandiose, unwise. It is neither. Rather, it is calibrated to address the great challenges before us. And from those great challenges we will not shrink. I, my friends, will not shrink.
“And so I promise you this and this alone: America will start winning again, winning like never before. America will come first. America, my friends, will be great again!
“Thank you, and may God bless this great nation.”
The speech, interrupted frequently by chants of “U-S-A,” was astounding. More astounding was what followed next. Later that evening, hundreds of Comitans gathered in a park near the convention hall. Wearing military fatigues and carrying TIKI™ torches, they had marched through town chanting, “Hispanics, Muslims, Blacks, and Jews, either way, we all lose.” They had stopped mid-way to hear speeches, including from the owner of a chain of popular restaurants repeatedly fined for hiring illegal immigrants, before clashing with counterdemonstrators back at the park. One woman died.
Meanwhile, Comitan rallies continued apace. In one rally in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, fistfights erupted between the right-wing agitators and counterdemonstrators, injuring scores. In another rally in Eugene, Oregon, Comitans joined forces with a local militia to occupy a courthouse. They refused to leave until government representatives agreed to designate as sovereign territory a ranch owned by a local firebrand who owed millions in back taxes.
Days later, a Mississippi Comitan member, wearing a swastika on his arm, walked into a family-planning clinic in Jackson and opened fire with a shotgun while yelling, “Die, abortionists!” Six were murdered, including two pregnant women. Schmidt refused to condemn the violence. He even tacitly endorsed it. “I remind you of what Thomas Jefferson once said: ‘The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.’”
His disqualifying behavior proved otherwise. Polls had him trouncing his rivals, as his acid tongue and wanton mendacity, defying logic, only aided his campaign. I could not believe what was happening. I did not recognize my country. The Comitans had begun to make their presence felt in New York before I left. One had even assaulted me. They had contributed to my overall unhappiness, culminating in my departure for Spain, but I never imagined the situation would get this bad. Schmidt seemed like a joke. He wasn’t. His election appeared more likely by the day. How could I return to the U.S? It was becoming a wasteland of bigotry and hate.
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