[The Election Issue]

How can we get past this brutal election cycle?

Howard McWilliam
Stacy J. Willis

Well, now what? Assuming we’ll have a winner soon and not a civil war, and that we’ll resume to plodding along under a new administration for four years, what will we do with our time, our disgust, our sarcasm, our condescension, our vitriol? At whom will we aim our disdain, our filthy memes, our self-righteous pontificating disguised as “debate,” and our trolling disguised as “conversation”? How will we reel ourselves back from thinking it’s okay to say “He’s a f*cking lunatic” over the fine china (gyna?) or “She’s a stupid bitch” in front of children? How will we clamber back to some semblance of civility, to a time where we wouldn’t have dreamed that our presidential discourse led us to such base, ignorant, blockheaded name-calling? (See what I did there? It’s like I can’t stop. The negativity has devoured me. )

Let me tell you, there were times—dark times—during this election cycle when I whispered weird things to myself like, “I miss W,” and “Mitt Romney had a nice head of hair.” There were moments when I woke myself up at night repeating, “Deplorables, deplorables, deplorables …” There was even the crappy moment when I stood in line to vote—something that has always given me a sense of pride as an American, that feeling that although we differ in opinion, we are civil and united and believe in our system of Democracy—and exchanged cold glares with the retired couple whose Mercedes sported an opposition bumper sticker. My fellow Americans looked at my gray hoodie, which had a tiny Hurley emblem on the chest, an “H,” and the woman snapped, “You can’t wear that Hillary junk in here.” I didn’t want to explain. I wanted to brawl. I was sure I could lay them both out with a spinning roundhouse kick—a skill I absolutely do not have—but I wanted to vote more. So I stayed focused. There was nothing uniting about it, no warm fuzzy America the Beautiful buzz, no apple pie, no baseball.

Who have we become? I don’t want to be this person, nor be among these people. I want the love back. Or at least the decency. I’ll be okay if I never again feel drawn, as if possessed by some demon spawn of utter hopelessness, to join a 652-comment thread to add this insightful commentary: “Moron!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Perhaps we need a national time out, a long moment, like two to eight years—the time it takes Senate Republicans to consider a Supreme Court nominee—to cleanse our psyches. I have a list of terms I need to purge from my head, most notably, “orange anus” and “Killary.” Perhaps we all need a media fast, a solid 20 minutes without glancing at Facebook or Twitter. Perhaps we need a cable-news cleanse.

Or maybe we just need to take a deep breath, come to terms with Our Year of the Tantrum, wrap it up, set it on the history shelf and try much harder to civil, smart and reasonable.

It will be so great. Believe me.

Top of Story