As the sun sets golden behind the western peaks of the Sangre de Cristo, lines of celebrants stream down from the mountain, their torches dancing and flickering in the whisper of dusk's breeze. Far below, the throng awaits, their chatter silenced as the torch-bearers approach.
From the silence rises a lone cry, "Burn Him!" Then another. From a few scattered voices, the cry is taken up until the din of it is literally deafening.
Of course, this is just a big, harmless party, its attendees bent upon casting out the demons of gloom that have haunted them during the year, and bidding that gloom to be gone from the year before them.
Leaving the desert, we enter an arena, filled with revelers clutching "America First" signs. From somewhere in the midst of the crowd arises a cry of "Traitor!" From across the room, "Socialist!" And from another section, "Kill Him!" as the host of the party simply - and silently - smiles.
The similarity between the two scenarios is chilling. One can only wonder when the torches will begin streaming down from the far reaches of the stadium, and whether, given their preference, the celebrants might delight in the screaming agony of a black-faced effigy, bedecked in a three-piece suit, as it is engulfed in that cleansing flame.
God Bless America. What have we become?