In my lifetime, 3 elections have scarred me, made unalterable gashes on my soul. The first was the midterm election of 1994, when Newt and his gang took out their contract on “America”. I ash been out for less than three years, and it was a visceral reminder of how much the country hated me and my values.
The second was the presidential election of 2000. Like a lot of liberal Democrats, I bought the Naderite line that Gore wasn’t materially different from Bush. But instead of voting for Nader, I just stayed home. Histories of the 2000 election that say that Nader didn’t cost Gore the election fail to take into account the widespread demoralization Nader effected among those of us who would’ve voted Democrat. Nader’s foolishness kept us home on Election Day, and we got the Iraq War out of that.
Now we’re facing this monstrous ugliness from Trump and the GOP base, and I’m reminded again that a significant portion of U.S. citizenry hates me, my values, and life in a multicultural society with a president who isn’t a white str8 male. We’re seeing the most disgusting, morally repugnant elements feeling emboldened to raise their voices and assert their aspirations to take over our country for their own filthy ends. Even after we elect Hillary they will continue to make trouble, probably even wreak violence on our country until they are quelled forever.
But the thing that disturbs me about these elections, about the scars they’ve left on my soul, is how my thinking about elections and governmental power have been reduced to a Manichaean dichotomy. My natural inclination is to see the world not in black and white, but with nuance, shading, and vivid coloration. I don’t believe the Universe is divided between pure Good and pure Evil. But our recent elections and the increasing polarization of the parties have left me rooting for morally suspect persons (not Hillary, but rather some of the down-ticket candidates). I don’t get the luxury of dealing with the candidates with subtlety any longer. If my side doesn’t win a given election, then I lose and my values are set back. This disgusts me. And yet, I cannot afford the stance of opting out and not voting, because that only serves to aid my enemies. This election is demoralizing and yet we must continue to participate.