If I were still pre-digital enough to own an ink-on-paper calendar, I’d circle Wednesday, Nov. 9, on it.
That’s the day after Election Day. The day when all the grown people of America who are losing their minds over politics can finally – I hope – begin to regain their sanity.
The general election season has barely begun, but it seems like it’s already been going on for two years. Donald Trump’s relentless bloviations curdle forth on seemingly every news show. Hillary and Bill Clinton’s transgressions, past and present, real and imagined, sprout and re-sprout like weeds no chemical can kill.
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Thursday morning alone, if you ventured anywhere near a broadcast TV news show or news website, you know that The Donald’s calling Bill Clinton out over past allegations of rape. You know the former governor of Pennsylvania is being called out for making a stupid misogynistic joke about Trump’s stupid misogynistic comments about women’s looks. You know a Fox News poll has Trump pulling ahead of Hillary Clinton, but they’re still the two most thoroughly despised presumptive nominees imaginable.
Bonus tidbit: There are even folks scouring the Internet for cellphone video that might finally prove whether angry young “Bernie bros” did or did not flip chairs over during that tumultuous state Democratic convention in Nevada last weekend.
You get the idea. Happy times. And it’s only May.
(And that’s not even counting the sure-to-be epic barrage of campaign attack ads we’ll enjoy here in North Carolina around House Bill 2).
This year’s political season is shaping up as a kind of Civil War between an ascendant generation of Bernie Sanders-loving millennials and an indignant generation of Trump-worshipping (or Trump-tolerating) elders determined to pump the brakes on a changing social order. Woe to the millions of moderates caught in the middle.
I’m under no illusion that we’ll wake up Nov. 9 and find that the reality of a President-Elect Clinton or President-Elect Trump means the end of the national food-fight. No, the losing side’s supporters will be very, very angry.
But they’ll get over it. What else can they do? (Nobody’s moving to Canada). And then leaders will pretend to be adults again. They’ll have to start making promises that are at least realistic, if still difficult to achieve. Maybe they’ll even compromise! (Crazy, right?).
As tawdry and as stomach-churning as the next few months will likely be, let’s not forget that there’s an elasticity woven into the very fiber of American-ness. This country isn’t perfect, but one of its greatest gifts has always been its remarkable capacity to shift and expand, to make room for new people and ideas. It doesn’t always do so gracefully or quickly. But it does.
America survived an actual Civil War. It will survive this uncivil one, too.
By the time Nov. 9 gets here, we’ll probably all find ourselves questioning that truth more than once.--Eric Frazier