From 2045…REMEMBERING THE 2020 ELECTION …by Jim Stiles

“I am very cautious of people who are absolutely right, especially when they are vehemently so.”

–Michael Palin

NOTE: This story is not intended to be prophecy, projection, or prediction; nor is it offered as a warning or a celebration of “things to come.” It’s merely idle speculation on my part, based on trends I see happening in America, for better or worse. And 34 days from now, give or take a month or two to count the mail in ballots, we’ll all know if at least part of this tall tale was accurate, or total bullfeathers. And now, on to the Future, as I look back at the distant past…JS

To the rare human interested in listening to the rants of an old man…just for the record, today is August 12, 2045. In a couple hours, at 5:04 PM to be precise, we are going to find ourselves in total darkness, in the middle of a summer afternoon. Let me explain.

Back in 2017, Tonya and I traveled up to Nebraska to see a total eclipse of the sun. It was our first eclipse and, I have to say, even a cynic like myself was impressed. Of course, the event only lasts a few minutes and so right away we were on Google—remember when Google was a Search Engine?–looking for when we might see another eclipse cross North America.

We learned that in just a few years—April 2024 to be precise–the path of another eclipse would travel across the country, from Texas to New England. And we were there, near the Mexican border, to see it. But I was curious…how about even farther out? To my surprise, I found information that yet another eclipse was on the way. Even better, it would pass directly over our little home on the High Plains. I checked the date. August 12, 2045. And I sort of groaned.

Hell, I thought…I’ll be so damn old by then, even if I’m still alive, I’ll be too demented to notice the eclipse. And yet…here I am. Still breathing, semi-lucid, in my 90s and parked out here in the late summer sun, with my soul mate, who still looks gorgeous.

Now…uh….why did I start scribbling this drivel??? Oh yeah…so this eclipse later today also marks the 25th anniversary of the Big Change…it’s been 25 years now since the seminal year, 2020, and the crazy presidential election and the first pandemic— how many have we had now? Three? Four? I can’t keep track.

I remember when Tonya said, ‘I’ll be so glad when this year is over.” And I said, “This is just the beginning.” I could feel it. And while she still glares at me at the mere mention, I was right.

So this eclipse is about to start, but for me at least, this middle of the day darkness has been with us for a very long time. Oh…I know most people like the way it turned out and I guess the”New America” has its advantages. Still, it never felt right to me. Call me old-fashioned.

For me to recount everything that happened world-wide since that “Year of the Great Weirdness,” would probably kill me—though nothing else has so far. So let me stick to the distant past as it related specifically to my old home state and the once special part of it…Southeast Utah.

***

We all remember that bizarre climax to 2020, as if the year hadn’t already been weird enough. Election Day: November 3. There was fear by Republicans and Democrats alike that by November 4 and beyond, we’d still be wondering who we elected. I still painfully recall the acrimony, the insanity of that weird campaign. The Dems were convinced that President Trump was still colluding with the Russians and that Putin planned to keep his puppet in office. The Repubs were terrified that fraudulent use of mail-in ballots would likewise throw the election to their adversaries.

A few hours into election night it was clear there was no way Trump would win the popular vote…even the GOPers conceded that. But like 2016, it was all about electoral strategy and by the morning of November 4, it appeared as if Trump had done it again. The Electoral College seemed to trend his way. But in the months leading to election day, the Supreme Courts in several swing states ruled that mail-in ballots, as long as they were postmarked by election day, could arrive as late as a week after November 3, and still count. And so “election day” dragged on for almost a month, as late arriving ballots, recounts, challenges and more recounts delayed the outcome. The vote swung one way and then the other.

Finally, on December 6, Michigan’s 16 electoral votes went to Biden by the slimmest of margins and the former vice president was declared the winner, barely surpassing the needed 270 electoral votes.

Now…what next? Everyone wondered and worried. What would Trump do? President-elect Biden and others had speculated earlier in the campaign that if he won, Trump might have to be carried from the Oval office by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Would Trump refuse to accept the outcome? Quite a few of his supporters wanted him to stay. Talk of open insurrection dominated social media. Sales of firearms and ammunition spiked and, for the first time in 160 years, there were threats of secession. But, after exploring all his options, President Trump surprised everyone. On Christmas Eve, he announced at a rally in Pierre, South Dakota that he would resign the presidency immediately, turning the reins of power over to his vice president, Mike Pence, for the last three weeks of his administration.

To his devastated fans, Trump declared, “This country is totally screwed. I mean TOTALLY!” But he urged his supporters to resist violence. “Don’t act like a Marxist!” he declared to his followers and promised he “wasn’t going away.” Pundits pondered the comment; wondering what the “threat level” was, but then, just three days later, former President Donald Trump announced that he had purchased the OAN news network, was renaming it “Trump America TV” and pledged, “If you think the Left is sick of me now, just wait six months and see what they say! It’s gonna be GREAT!”

***

Bears Ears. Photo by Jim Stiles
Bears Ears. Photo by Jim Stiles

The election result was a particular source of concern in Southeast Utah, especially in San Juan County. Conservative Anglos and Native Americans who had supported Trump and his decision to dramatically shrink the original Bears Ears National Monument feared that a Biden administration would restore the monument to its original 1.6 million acres. Progressive Anglos and Native Americans were delighted by the same possibility. It was almost assumed that the “shrunken monument’s” days were over. But Joe Biden’s actions regarding the monument stunned even his most ardent supporters.

Throughout 2020, following the police shooting of the African-American George Floyd, demands for “social justice” and greater equality for minorities rocked the country from coast to coast. While groups like Black Lives Matter dominated headlines, others, including Native Americans, were similarly challenged to protest. Native Americans on the Colorado Plateau, especially the Navajo Nation, had reasons to feel slighted.

Going back to 2016, when President Obama first raised the possibility of a “Bears Ears NM,” the administration hinted that the monument might be “actively co-managed” by the five tribes that supported the original monument plan. But when Obama signed the proclamation, the tribes quickly realized that their role would only be “advisory.” Instead the monument would be managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service, both agencies of the federal government. Members of the Navajo Nation that had aligned themselves with environmental organizations in support of the monument hoped that a Biden Administration might reconsider the “co-management” idea. To their surprise, and to the surprise of environmental groups in Utah, Biden did a lot more.

In early 2022, President Biden stunned supporters and adversaries alike when he proposed a bill that would cede all the San Juan County federal lands contained in the original 1.6 million acre monument proposal to the five tribes of the “Inter-Tribal Coalition.” The Navajo, Hopi, Ute Mountain Ute, Zuni and Ute Tribes would share responsibilities, as well as any revenues generated by the lands now ceded to them. Biden called it the “Native American Reparations Act.” It was passed swiftly by the Democratic congress.

Biden emphasized that he wasn’t simply talking about “co-management” of the lands. He was giving full jurisdiction to the Five Tribes to manage the lands as they saw fit. “You will have the same authority and power that you wield on your own reservations,” he insisted.

Explaining that the 1.6 million acres had once been the homeland of the tribes, Biden declared that, “This is but a small gesture, an acknowledgment by this White Man, that we must correct the injustices of the past and try to make amends for our transgressions.” Biden urged the tribes to create a new “Bears Ears Inter-Tribal National Park,” the first of its kind, and promised that “The actions I take today are only the beginning.” But ultimately he proclaimed, “how you use these lands is up to you.”

The response from Anglos and Native Americans was swift and…varied? As details of the Reparations Act leaked, the county itself bordered on civil war. Grazing leases for local ranchers would be phased out over ten years, and interested Native American ranchers and sheep growers would be given the option of assuming the leases themselves. Energy development, though limited on much of the monument, would likewise be revoked and subsequently transferred to the tribes. Current lease holders would be compensated by the federal government. The Daneros Uranium Mine, owned previously by Energy Fuels Corporation, was turned over to the coalition as well, to develop or shut down.

Conservatives in the county called it “the most outrageous land grab in the country’s history.” Protests were held in Monticello and Blanding and some residents warned that Biden’s actions would have serious consequences.

Liberals replied that the government was merely returning lands that had been stolen by whites in the first place— the original “land grab”— more than a century before. A celebration was held in Bluff.

Environmentalists in Utah were thrilled at the announcement and praised their own efforts, in collaboration with the tribes, to bring about this historic moment. But over the next few years, conflicts arose between the progressive Anglo community and the Inter-Tribal Coalition, and in fact, profound disagreements within the coalition arose as well. It was assumed by most of the environmental community that the tribes would pursue plans similar to their own with regard to the creation of a new “tribal national park,” and that they would follow the environmental guidelines well-established at other parks and monuments. But Biden himself had stated clearly, “The land is yours to develop as you see fit.”

Consequently, the Five Tribes moved forward with plans to develop the 1.6 million acres in much the way they managed and administered their own reservation lands. The Navajo proposed keeping the Daneros Mine open, under their management, and offered to share a percentage of the profits with the other tribes. Also, knowing that tourism and recreation would play a major role in the use of these lands, the Navajo Nation advanced a proposal to create and develop a residential and business community at the junction of Utah Highways 95 and 261, almost in the shadow of the Bears Ears buttes.

Junction of Utah Hwys 95 and 261, before the “Cedar Mesa Community & Resort.”

Additionally, as far back as 2016, when the original monument plan was introduced, many Navajos believed they’d be able to establish homes within the monument boundaries. Now that was all happening. The “Cedar Mesa Community & Casino” grew rapidly in the late 2020s and by 2030, more than 5000 Navajos and Utes lived across the mesa and in the new town itself. The world-class lodge, built in partnership with a Chinese investor/entrepreneurial corporation, opened in 2029.

The Hopi took issue with these developments, especially the casino, and the longstanding, historic feud between the Navajo and the Hopi resumed. Lawsuits over the next decade cost millions in lawyer fees and administrative costs; ultimately as is always the case, only the attorneys won.

Despite the litigation, the “Cedar Mesa Community & Casino” became a focal point for what its planners called “controlled tourism.” Early on, the Five Tribes agreed to limit public access to their newly acquired territory. Non-Natives could drive through the area on the designated state highways, but otherwise, the entire 1.6 million acres were expressly shut down to tourists and even Anglo residents of San Juan County. Guided tours to some of the more well-known archaeological sites, similar to those at the Navajo Nation’s Antelope Canyon, were made available to those willing to spend the money. A daily trip cost as much as $375/person. Stringent enforcement of the closures generated additional revenues for the Five Tribes as well, in the form of hefty fines to those illegally entering areas now closed to the public.

Many of the grazing leases that had been revoked were re-issued to Natives who brought flocks of sheep back to Cedar Mesa for the first time in decades. Even some limited timber harvesting was initiated by the tribes in what had been Manti-La Sal National Forest.

San Juan County’s non-Tribal locals were stunned by the Five Tribes’ actions. In addition to their grazing allotments, they lost access to Cedar Mesa, which had been a popular recreational area for residents, going back 125 years. Some called the restrictions “racist,” claiming that they were being discriminated against because of their skin color. The Native groups called it the “ultimate irony.”

As details of the reparations deal became public, more protests erupted in the northern part of the county. Soon these turned to riots and became a nightly event, with several serious clashes occurring between supporters and opponents of the Biden proclamation. Three times, the protests made national headlines. CNN and Fox showed up. At one point, some of the county’s more conservative leaders proposed a new and different kind of protest march, partially mimicking the 2014 ATV protest led by former county commissioner Phil Lyman, when he and a group of like-minded folks citizens traveled on a road that had been closed by the Bureau of Land Management.

This time, the march would be on foot, to one of the more popular archaeological sites on Cedar Mesa that had now been closed to the public. Lyman decided to sit this one out, but other conservative political leaders came forward to lead the protest hike and sure enough, tribal police arrested them, just 50 yards from the trailhead.

More trouble followed. The new “Entering ‘Five Tribes’ Lands” sign along Utah Highway 95 was repeatedly vandalized with spray paint and sledge hammers. So was the LDS Temple in Monticello; its granite walls and stairways were covered with graffiti until the Church hired a full time security team. Everyone blamed each other for “starting it.”

Utah environmental groups were divided among themselves at these unexpected developments. They had hoped for more stringent environmental safeguards, and had assumed that energy development, grazing, and timber harvesting would come to an end with the Native American Reparations Act. And it had simply not occurred to most of the progressive environmentalists that residential occupation and commercial development of the mesa, on such a large scale, was ever a possibility. When two environmental groups, based in Salt Lake City and Bluff, Utah respectively, denounced the “Cedar Mesa Community & Casino” plan, the Five Tribes struck back, offering their own criticisms of the “very white enviros who assumed we would do their bidding.” By 2030, the “traditionalists” among the tribes had dwindled and new leadership voices found themselves at odds with the tribes’ old environmental allies.

One popular poster circulating on the reservation depicted images of two groups…one was a photo of a group of very white Mormon missionaries. The other depicted a gathering of all white environmentalist staffers. The poster carried a caption that asked:

Mormon Youth Group
Mormon Youth Group

Ultimately…what’s the difference?
(answer)
NOTHING
(They all look the same to us!)

SUWA Staff
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance staff

The new leadership announced that its people no longer wanted to “live in the past.” and demanded every opportunity to pursue the same comforts and material wealth as their Anglo cousins. One of the new leaders put it like this:

“We honor the memory and traditions of our ancestors and their struggle to survive, and we believe in caring for the land and its sacred aspects, but not at our own economic expense. Not with the suffering of our people as a consequence. Our Anglo environmentalist friends always praise us and our land stewardship, so please…allow us to continue as we have always done — We want a better life too.

“For the Anglo who likes to go camping and sleep in a tent and carry a great burden upon his back…to the White person who goes into the wild for ‘fun’ so that he can freeze in the winter and become sunburnt and bit by gnats and mosquitoes in the summer, feel free to do so. This is your choice. We have spent centuries enduring these conditions not because we wanted to, but because we HAD NO CHOICE. Now we want something better.”

Summer Hogan in Monument Valley. July, 1965. Photo by Edna Fridley

The mainstream environmental community was rocked by these changes. And its benefactors, the billionaires who had previously funded “green/grassroots” groups with million dollar payrolls and executive-level paychecks, took notice. Suddenly, with the Biden victory and Social Justice issues overshadowing even the once hot button Climate Change focus, the wealthy started shifting their funding priorities. Environmental organization revenues began to decline in the mid-2020s. By the end of the decade, their budgets resembled the skeleton operations of the 1980s, before the 1% started pumping money into them to boost their own “ethical credentials.” Investing in Social Justice organizations was the real philanthropic cause.

It provided more of a cachet for the wealthy. Environmental groups were only trying to save the planet. Climate change was always so..theoretical and vague, based on computer models, and certainly it lacked instant gratification for those who funded the movement. This was more personal. The results were easier to quantify, and consequently easier to take credit for. Utah Dine’ Bikeyah became the largest employer in Southeast Utah, with $27 million in assets by 2030 as contributions from the “One Percent” poured in.

***

Another consequence of Biden’s 2020 win dramatically changed the economy and landscape of southeast Utah and northern Arizona. Though the new president was not willing to embrace the “Green New Deal” in its entirety, he did implement parts of the radical plan, which would have ended fossil fuel use entirely in the United States by 2030. Again, there was great resistance by the region’s conservatives in the beginning. But over time, even within that faction, some wondered what other choice they had.

The collapse of the coal industry and a steady decline in oil and gas revenues had already damaged the energy economies nationwide. Losses were acutely felt across the Colorado Plateau. Tax revenues plummeted in San Juan County and the closure of the Navajo Generating Station and Black Mesa Mine struck a near fatal blow to the Native American tribes, who depended on tax revenues from the energy industry to fund a large proportion of their budgets. Job losses likewise were devastating.

The Biden Administration and the Democratic Congress boosted subsidies for the renewable energy industry to levels unheard of even during the Obama presidency. Consequently, proposals for solar and wind projects across vast stretches of the Navajo and Hopi Nations overwhelmed the tribal governments.

One of the solar prototypes near Kayenta Arizona. 2020

Desperate for ways to increase their revenues, the tribes approved and permitted almost every plan that was submitted. Within a decade, the landscape of the Colorado Plateau was forever changed (or at least for the next 50 years—the panels’ and turbines’ designated lifetime).

The Black Mesa coal mine’s slurry and tower were ultimately re-invented as Arizona’s longest zipline and only coal tower condominiums.

Literally hundreds of thousands of solar panels were constructed across the Navajo Nation. The view of Monument Valley looked as if the mesas and pinnacles were floating above a sea of glass. And with each solar project came the necessary infrastructure to transport the generated electricity to the customers who were paying for it. Massive power lines stretched south to Phoenix and Tucson and Albuquerque and west to Las Vegas and Los Angeles. It was hard to imagine the days of John Ford movies with John Wayne or Henry Fonda. But then, nobody had bothered to shoot a Western film in years.

Vision of wind towers near Peter’s Point

In the northern part of San Juan County, government leaders turned to wind power as a means of boosting the tax base. The first 27 turbines had been constructed in 2016, though a weird clause in the tax laws wiped out any possible tax advantage. But the state legislature, recognizing the counties’ desperate situation, modified the law to allow them to benefit directly from tax revenues, without providing comparable tax reductions to the county’s property owners. Within a decade, more than 1000 turbines had been constructed in San Juan County alone. Many lined the rim of the plateau near Peter’s Point. The benchlands once called The Great Sage Plain were blanketed with hundreds of 600 foot gleaming white towers. Their red flashing FAA lights could be seen from as far away as 50 miles. And, as with the solar arrays, massive power transmission lines were built to move the electricity to where it was needed.

***

With so much “renewable energy” infrastructure, it was difficult to even see the beauty of the landscape that lay under all that glass and steel and cable. But it was still there and the tourists still came, although the recreation industry was never quite the same after the Pandemic, especially the second one. Visitation to the national parks was highly regulated and, of course, access to the Five Tribes lands was taboo for non-Natives. After Pandemic 2, social distancing was mandatory and even preferred. Masks became chic, though it threw facial recognition technology into the toilet.

I didn’t enjoy wearing the mask. Not because it was annoying and hard to breath with–which it was. My problem was, I could never tell how people were reacting to me when I tried to engage them in conversation. Back then, when we still had cashiers at the grocery, and servers in the restaurants, and when it was still common to bump into people on the street, I had always been a bit of a talker. But I only initiated a chat if I thought they’d enjoy the conversation as much as I would. With the masks on, I couldn’t see if they were smiling or not. I had never realized how much that meant to me. The smiles were critical. Now they were gone, even when they were there. But I came to realize that us chatty types were a dwindling breed anyway.

Even before 2020, younger Americans were finding direct human contact a less than desirable condition; they spent an inordinate amount of time, in my humble opinion, staring into their “devices.” Older generations worried that their children and grandchildren were losing the ability to interact personally with others. Millennials and Generation Zers took offense at our constant haranguing. But the Pandemic was their revenge, in a way. Not only were they able to adjust more easily to the isolation, they were convinced they’d been vindicated. This was proof to them that real relationships could flourish and grow electronically or digitally through cyberspace.  It was safer, and healthier. And ultimately, they decided, more satisfying. Even when the first pandemic wound down, the under 40 demographic stayed true to their iPhones and Androids.

An odd manifestation of that social evolution in Utah was the fact that many tourists still came to “see” the Bears Ears region and its archaeological treasures, but they were content to view the various Anasazi ruins virtually, from a safe, off site location in one of the perimeter towns. Bluff especially embraced the 3D streaming technology to provide live virtual visits to gems like Moon House Ruin, via direct link to several locations. Somehow being only 35 miles away was close enough to satisfy their curiosity. Those San Juan County communities all became second home havens eventually. As many as two-thirds of the residences either sat empty much of the year, or were rented out on a nightly basis. The residential streets often looked deserted.

And, of course, the tourist “service” industry itself changed dramatically in the decade after 2020. Again, younger Americans feared and loathed the interaction required in restaurants and shops. They believed the health risks were too great and the effort to communicate too difficult. Instead of human clerks and servers, the retail and service industry, in San Juan County and across the country, turned to technology to answer questions and resolve problems. By the time the second pandemic waned, interactive screens were everywhere, ready to respond instantly to inquiries and problems. Face to face personal connections had all but vanished. Electronic cashiers, already available before 2020, became standard everywhere by 2030. All those overnight B & Bs offered self-check in, and even the cleaning was done by an automated service, robots operated from a central remote control zone in Grand Junction, Colorado.

The number of lost jobs was stunning– in the millions —but everyone agreed, long before the screens took over, personal human service had become pathetic. Even those anti-tech Luddites who fought the takeover of these jobs by robots and computers conceded that they were still an improvement over blank faces and bored, clueless stares.

I myself narrowly avoided arrest in 2023 when I tried to give a clerk a five dollar bill AND a quarter, for a $4.25 bill, so she could give me a dollar back. She was utterly bewildered and called her supervisor, who was equally flummoxed. The manager, convinced I was”trying to pull something,” summoned the police. And so I was grateful when the convenience store later installed self-service check-out screens.

The unemployment rate might have been a greater concern without the “Universal Basic Income” law that was implemented by Congress in 2025. With technology claiming all of the service jobs, and with productivity at an all time low, most felt there was no other choice. Some even believed it represented the dawn of a New Era. Freed from the need to work to survive, with all those basic needs covered, humans could devote their time and energy to higher themes–an opportunity to ponder the “real meaning of life.”

Others thought such sentiments were utter bullshit. Millions of Americans now had more time on their hands than they knew what to do with. Drug use and alcoholism soared. So did the ratings for the Cable networks. It was truly the beginning of what we had already started to call “The Great Stupid.” The guaranteed income law was just the icing on the cake— we were already witnessing the death of curiosity, of the real pursuit of knowledge. I had long before realized that we were living in a world driven more by emotion than logic. We all knew we needed both, but in the black and white world of the 2020s, there was no middle ground. No chance to consider both sides…unless you consider this one last story.

Photo by Herb Ringer. 1950

The Native American Reparations Act profoundly changed my old home in San Juan County, but the scope of the bill wasn’t limited to southeast Utah. Over the next decade, other public lands were returned to Native American tribes across the country. Of particular note was the decision to restore ownership of federal lands in the Black Hills to the Lakota Sioux. A half century earlier, the United States Supreme Court had, in fact, agreed that the Black Hills were “stolen” from the tribe and awarded the Lakota Sioux a cash settlement in the millions of dollars. The court’s action was intended to end the debate.

But the Lakota wanted the land, not the money. For decades the money sat in an account collecting interest. Then came the Reparations Act. It could not include private lands, but it did cede selected federally-managed properties back to the Sioux—including, of all things, Mount Rushmore National Monument. Native Americans had loathed the sight of the presidential sculptures for almost a century, calling it “an abomination.” And as the new century moved ahead, the tribe gained more followers from progressives.

Before 2020, any talk of removing the massive monument had been unthinkable. Even Bernie Sanders—yes, the one imprisoned in the Luddite insurrection of 2024—had praised its power and majesty just four years earlier. Now, liberals of all races and colors were demanding its removal. By 2026, plans moved forward for a nationally televised event to blast the four faces from the mountain.

The country was divided as it had not been since the Civil War. Promises of retaliation and violence brought leaders of both sides to the bargaining table. This fight created an even more toxic atmosphere than the infamous mask vs no-mask debacle of the second pandemic.

(A troubling and unexpected consequence of the virus left the medical experts bewildered when 93% of COVID-23 survivors developed an acute case of Tourette Syndrome. Scientists were never able to prove convincingly whether it was the disease itself or a socio-cultural manifestation of the times we lived it.)

But finally, a compromise of sorts was reached. They would not destroy the monument,  but they would “relocate” the four presidential faces at Mt Rushmore.

The relocation of Abu Simbel

It sounded impossible at first, but supporters of the plan cited a precedent, albeit in Egypt, from more than half a century earlier. In 1964, when rising waters from the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River threatened to drown the magnificent 3000 year old temples at Abu Simbel, a plan was initiated to move the massive structure to higher ground. Engineers cut the temple and its statues into smaller moveable pieces, then reassembled those segments at a new location above the new reservoir’s high water mark. It was argued that the same effort, albeit expensive and risky, could be accomplished at Rushmore.

The idea seemed preposterous. Even if it were possible, many felt that to acquiesce to the removal of Mt. Rushmore, on principle, was unthinkable. The Trump America Network urged opponents of the move to descend en masse at the site and stop what the former president called, “a DISASTER of historic proportions…If they do this,” Trump proclaimed, “it’s the END of our country. We will never live down this shame. We’re OVER. DONE…and now a word from one of our sponsors…”

But eventually, as public opinion turned in favor of its relocation, opponents agreed to the compromise. And now, as we all know, the Mt Rushmore monument resides on the edge of an artificially constructed concrete “mountain,” atop the abandoned ruins of the Rushmore Mall in Rapid City, South Dakota.

I wasn’t a fan of the Rushmore relocation. And I didn’t like to see all those old civil war monuments taken down either or changing the names of every damn thing that might have been offensive to somebody, at some time, under certain conditions. I once thought they could just take off the nameplates on those magnificent sculptures and call them either, “Another Man on a Horse with a Sword,” or “A Man NOT on a Horse with a Sword.”  

And I always felt bad for the folks that created them…These were great artists, creating incredible masterpieces. And we just tore them down.

For me, they were some pretty rough times. Once, a long time ago, I scribbled something down in The Zephyr about all this. Got a lot of flak for it, but most of the people who complained are now dead, so what the hell do I care?

I wrote that, for as long as I lived, I would always believe in the pursuit of knowledge, and the need to remember and understand history—the good, the bad and the ugly. To my last breath, I will always despise and abhor censorship and intolerance of any kind, even when I firmly believe the views being censored are dead wrong. We need to learn from our mistakes. 

I said all that 28 years ago…I might as well have been talking to a stone. Just three years later, along came 2020 . But still, we’re always reluctant to give up Hope. 

After the Mt Rushmore fiasco, and the 2020s came to a close, Tonya and I thought…okay, maybe we’ve seen the end of the Great Weirdness, and this decade long insanity would finally end. Maybe this compromise would be a turning point. Maybe…just maybe…things can get better.  

And then of course, 2032 came along —we all know what happened then. Ms T and I have been in deep hiding ever since.

It’s hard to believe how much time has passed since that last eclipse, and the election of 2020, and all that has come since.

Like I said earlier, most Americans, at least the younger ones, liked the changes that transformed our country. A quarter century later, we’re a ‘collective’ now; society gives us independent thinkers the old stink eye whenever we dare to complain about the changes. And I suppose that’s how human existence has always been. 

In any case, here we are—the moon has almost overtaken the sun, we’re approaching total darkness in just a few moments, and for me at least, I have to wonder: will I even notice the difference?

Jim Stiles is Founding Publisher and Senior Editor of the Canyon Country Zephyr.

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6 comments for “From 2045…REMEMBERING THE 2020 ELECTION …by Jim Stiles

  1. Rudolf the red
    October 5, 2020 at 2:28 am

    best article.i.have read in a quarter century. Thanks Tanya and jim

  2. Lewis Shumway
    October 6, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    I was amazed by Jim’s ability to imagine the future the way he did in this article. I enjoyed the article and think there is a possible path to much of it actually take place. I would like to have Jim speculate what China and Russia or even North Korea or Iran did during those years.

  3. Warren Musselman
    October 10, 2020 at 7:54 pm

    Always love your “what if” articles Stiles. Another winner.

  4. Keith Benefiel
    October 12, 2020 at 12:17 pm

    What fun. I think. Indiana, between the great Lakes and the Ohio, where the Eastern Woodlands met the Tallgrass Prairie was the home to more tribes of human beings than anywhere else. As long as we’re in the mood…

  5. Will Mahoney
    October 12, 2020 at 5:45 pm

    Your vision for the Biden administration ceding all Federal lands in San Juan County to a coalition of tribes (and perhaps all Federal lands to the Native Americans) is probably justifiable in light of the fact that White American society has been screwing Native Americans out of their land for 500+ years. While I support reparations in the form of education, grants to buy property, and other ways to help Native people, I selfishly hope that we don’t give back all public lands to them. The Tribes could well exclude us not-natives from all these lands and would have every right to do so. However, I (an avid canyon country hiker) would be heartbroken. It would hurt me even more than another 4 years of Trump.

    The reality is that Biden is too moderate to ever carry out such a plan although I can see this happening under a radical leftist administration in another 20 years. In the meantime, I hope Biden and all of us who believe in justice for Native People can work with them to develop programs and policies to promote their dignity, the viability of their societies, and their economic and personal success.

  6. October 13, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    nothin’ to add: i agree w/ everyone who(m) has previously posted ! y … ¿quìenes son las polìcia del cerebro?

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