Today, the citizens of these United States have done what was considered unthinkable a mere forty years ago.
We have elected, as President, a man who is not white.
(Take a moment to ponder this, for your sake. Those will be the last positive words in this post.)
From wild and unrestrained elation to simple tears of joy on the left. From restrained congratulations to simple excessive snark on the right. From relief that the long national nightmare known as this election season is finally over to wondering what the heck we are going to talk about now in the center. And yet, with all this going on around me, all I can feel is one thing: fear and loathing for America.
We have, in the last 16 years of American politics, perfected the art of behaving like nasty and brutish thugs to those in positions of power. Two back-to-back eight-year presidents have been hung in effigy, declared agents of evil, vilified, virtually sliced into fillets, pan-seared, and served mostly raw to their various political opponents and the first one hundred customers. With the various strains of Derangement Syndrome still out there, infecting our words and thoughts and actions and generally turning us into inconsiderate social imbeciles whenever a suitable target would present itself, I have to wonder what chance this man has of having a fair opportunity to present his own case.
Zip. Zilch. Nada. Jack all. Squat. Diddly. Null. Fat. Slim. The Raiders have a better chance to win the Super Bowl this year. I have a better chance to date Drew Barrymore, even once, before my timely demise. For that matter, there is a better chance that an unannounced nuclear test somewhere in Pakistan will cause the Earth to plummet into the Sun sometime in 2013.
The lights have yet to go out in Grant Park and, at this very moment, the Rachel Maddows and Kieth Olbermans of the left are spinning up to support every action and inaction that BHO will ever make over the next 4 years, up to and including the status of his morning constitutional. At this moment, the Sean Hannitys and Bill O'Reillys of the right are licking their virtual chops in anticipation of condemning BHO for every action and inaction he will make over the next 4 years, up to and especially including the quality of his morning constitutional. The TPMs and Daily Kos' and FDLs are prepared to defend everything, even what kind of toilet paper he uses during his constitutional. The LGFs and Instapundits and Drudges are prepared to attack on everything, including whether he uses the Constitution during his constitutional.
And the bull constitutional is only begun in earnest.
We have heard that this campaign was to be the end of politics as usual. And what became of that, I wonder. From Day One last January, we have been machine-gunned with press release after press release about what some amorphous They will do. They will raise your taxes. They will give your tax money to someone else. They will take over the world. They will let someone else take over the world. For that matter, They will probably sacrifice a goat during the Summer Solstice and bring about the new reign of Osiris for all we know. And we don't, because for every They, we're told to listen to Us instead.
And the only way to tell the They from the Us was to pound your head into a wall while visiting a web site for more complete information on what plans They have for Us. To learn more about what the Them will do worse than the Us.
(Ah yes. Bruce Bethke was right. Epistemology really is why philosophers drink so heavily.)
We couldn't help but to be informed during this 22-month-long election cycle. It was easier to come out clean after a Three Stooges pie fight scene than it was to remain in the dark about the candidates and their positions and their counterpositions and their shoe sizes and their wardrobe choices and ad nauseum, all feuling each of the various flavors of Derangement Syndrome and working us into a lather at the merest possibility that They will be just like what happened before.
And to my shame, I fell for it. From my own Clinton Derangement Syndrome to my once-removed Bush Derangement Syndrome... Hook. Line. Sinker. For all my self-righteous nose-raising whenever I read a brutal partisan attack on some amorphous Them, I could not help but to be sucked into the gaping maw of vicious partisanship myself.
Hello, Pot? This is Kettle.
I, too, have become part of the essential problem in American politics. The anger, rage, and utter inability to participate in fully reasoned discourse has even infected my own thought process, and I found myself unable to realize the fundamental truth of the American two-party system: both the Democrats and Republicans make up opposing sides. Not of a battlefield, but of the exact same coin. One cannot function without the other.
So the fear and loathing I feel for America is the same fear and loathing I feel for myself. For I have met the They. And, as much as I hate to admit it, the evidence is staring me in the face, using my own words to taunt me...
The They are Me.
So I must spend the next two months asking myself a serious question. So I want to remain in this angry state, allowing partisan politics to turn me into yet another rabid dachsund, nipping the heels of those on The Other Side Of The Aisle? Can I revert to being in the uncomfortable center, unable to hold still? Should I go streaking with Drew Barrymore? Can I go back to simply wanting to sieze the throat of everyone that uses the public trust for toilet paper without weighing the greater political considerations?
(Sorry. That third question was my libido talking. It has been restrained yet again.)
And as much as I loathe myself for allowing myself to tiptoe the line, I fear the answers that may come up. For whatever those answers may be, they will hold an insight into why the amorphous We of the political spectrum have become fundamentally cruel.
And that, my friends, is a scary thought indeed.