It's hard to believe that in a few days we'll wake up, and it will all be over. This presidential campaign and the press coverage that's served as an accessory to its criminal length will be history.
Presumably we'll have a winner, and given our stellar choice this year, we can be certain that the winner will be an . This will result in a goodly number of Americans extremely divisive figurebecoming hopping mad.
Will life go on? You bet. Am I worried? Not really. After all, the chief business of the American people is business, as President Calvin Coolidge famously said. It's not politics, thank God.
Next Wednesday, businesses will open as usual, and people will buy and sell goods, ask for and receive services. The stock market will ring its bell and do what it does best: move in mysterious ways. And even though everyone knows the market's movements are as inscrutable as the Sphinx, reporters will ask "experts" to explain the market's response to the election, and we'll listen, with half an ear.
The press will cover the outcome in other predictable ways, too: Was it or was it not a mandate? Has the losing party lost its mojo forever? Can this nation ever be united again?
To paraphrase the late great Janis Joplin, it's always the same f***'ing thing, man.
Like many people, I shudder at our two options for president, and I'm amazed we couldn't do better. But I'm pretty sure America will survive the next four years, no matter which party wins. Our institutions are stronger than Trump's ego, as New York Times reporter Roger Cohen wrote in September. That goes for another Clinton scandal, too.
People like to think that wherever we are at the moment is the lowest we have ever sunk, and maybe the 2016 election represents that. It's often seemed that way. But it's useful to remind ourselves that candidates have always appeared threatening to the other side, and unfortunately, we've been exposed to these two ad nauseam. Maybe it's a case of Parkinson's law, with their perceived dreadfulness expanding to fill the time available for network coverage.
The first election I remember was 1960, when Nixon lost to JFK on the strength of his 5 o'clock shadow and tendency to sweat on camera. I almost feel sorry for Nixon now, and there's good reason to believe that election really was rigged. But what did people fear most then? The fact that Kennedy was Catholic, for God's sake. They were afraid that America would be under the papal thumb. It seems crazy now, but it was a big deal then.
I read a column the other day out of Knoxville about the overuse of the word "broken" by critics of one American system or another: From health care to education to law enforcement to infrastructure, everything is described as "broken." Yet amazingly, the country is still in one piece on the map, and people are still entering their names into lotteries, vying for a ticket to come here. The writer, George Korda, remembered his father telling him decades ago that times have always been desperate. Get over it and move on, his dad said.
This election will inevitably lead to soul searching, on the part of both the major parties and the news organizations that cover them. Who knows, maybe the Trump candidacy will actually prove a game-changer for the GOP. But I'm not overly worried about what impact the results will have on America. Call me starry-eyed optimistic. I've been called much worse.
Besides his most famous quote, Coolidge, whose clean reputation led him to a landslide victory in 1924, also said: "The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
I agree with Cal. In fact, it's a damn shame he's not running this year.