The TV show “60 Minutes” ran an interesting but depressing feature this week, discussing how it has become impossible for people with different political views to reasonably discuss the election. Whether Democrat or Republican, Progressive, Conservative, Libertarian or something else, whether men or women, whether old or young, whether urban or suburban or rural, from any place in the nation, no matter what race, no matter what education or environment, everyone is upset with the content and tone of the election. What is especially alarming, is that people almost universally talk over each other, refuse to listen to different opinions, and quickly resort to personal insults and attacks.
This is not just about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Some of this, I fear, goes back much further, to a point I won’t identify because when it started is irrelevant except that it’s real, and it threatens all we hold good in our nation.
Look, in 2008 and 2012 Barack Obama won election and re-election, but more than forty percent of voters wanted the other guy. In fact, not since Nixon won re-election in 1972 have voters given sixty percent or more to a Presidential candidate (and we have since learned a lot about how Nixon got his numbers, enough to call the results into questions). But the new President pretty much always acts as if he won total support by right, to the point that the losing party is treated as if they don’t represent many millions of Americans. Both Trump and
have made it clear they intend to do
just that, should they win. In addition to everything else we have
suffered as a nation this election season, Americans now feel as if the stakes
are poor-or-nothing; put up with an unethical candidate they back, simply
because the alternative is abominable. Clinton
Later this week, we’ll know the results of the election (maybe even by end of night, Tuesday). But the fate of the nation depends on us, whether we hold the new President accountable, and whether we hold ourselves accountable to the ideals put in place for us by so many citizens before us.
Win or lose, let us be Americans, in spirit and practice.