ONDBEAT: Post-storm and pre-election give us plenty to stress about

Just when we thought all we had to bellyache about was the presidential election, Mother Nature intervened and bestowed us with Hurricane Matthew.

Diversion can be a good thing, but maybe not in the context that was dished out to North Carolina, deemed the worst hit state by the Oct. 8 storm, precisely one month before the crucial Nov. 8 election.

Now it’s embroiled in a presidential tug-of-war, one of several critical make-or-break states for determining this year’s winner.

That’s apparently why Donald Trump was in Greensboro last week and why the “Women Stump for Trump” tour bus rolled cross-state for his cause.

It’s also apparently why Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate, Tim Kaine, scheduled early vote rallies Oct. 19 in Asheville and Oct. 20 in Charlotte and Durham while Hillary prepares for, and then recuperates from, the third and final debate this week with the Donald.

Now the latest is last Saturday night’s firebombing and swastika-branding of GOP headquarters in Hillsborough. The politics and mudslinging have gotten ugly this year in N.C.

The weather hasn’t been much better.

Hurricane Matthew did lots of damage that many are striving to recover and bail out from, but at least we can still talk about it.

It’s not that way with this year’s divisive presidential race, which most people are reluctant to openly take sides on lest they end up in a heaping helping basket of trouble.

Donald Trump supporters are having their signs run over and vandalized, accused of supporting an accused leering woman-kisser while Hillary remains married to one.

Trump supporters these days are fair game for the mainstream media, including but not limited to “Saturday Night Live,” which isn’t taking as many potshots at Hillary’s adventures with Bill, Benghazi, pay-for-play or the FBI or amusedly declaring, like banners and T-shirts to the right, “Hillary for Prison 2016.”

Hillary supporters et al are likely asking, instead, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Apparently, not much. They would much rather see more salacious headlines and buffoonery about Trump. Their wish has been granted.

My own unscientific surveys with Brunswick County voters show people are reluctant to speak publicly about this year’s polarizing campaign.

Just this past Sunday, “Good Morning America” aired a segment on political discussions in the workplace, which are described as awkward and inadvisable.

After having his workplace bulletin board Trump postcard defaced, one man quit his job in the face of ongoing harassment.

The percentage still employed was advised on the do’s and don’ts of politically correct workplace politics and to keep an open mind: Be respectful, avoid blaming (and profane) language, keep the conversation short. May the candidates do likewise in these final treacherous weeks.

One shrink dubs the situation “election stress disorder.”

All of us, witnessing what is surely one of the fiercest presidential elections in history, are torn in the ongoing Trump v. Clinton battle that won’t be done until Nov. 8 when, by the end of the day, this year’s election goose will finally be cooked.

Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.