Election Obsession

You might have election obsession (with all kinds of apologies to Mr. Foxworthy):

If 9 out of every 10 posts you share on your Facebook page are “breaking news” stories designed to “expose” the “truth” about one of the candidates, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

If you can’t have a conversation about something as benign as your last vacation without eventually referring to a political party or a candidate, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

If your Facebook page has turned into a news feed from sources that have titles including words like liberal, conservative, left, right, progressive, or patriot, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

If you are convinced that everything that is wrong with America is embodied in one candidate while everything that could be right about the country can be achieved through the efforts of the other candidate, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

If photos of candidates show up on your Facebook feed more often than your family members or your pets, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

If you know more about the personal life and background of a candidate than you do about some of your best friends, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

And finally, if you have contemplated leaving the country if your candidate of choice doesn’t win, yoooouuuu might have election obsession.

How About an Early Election?

Many voting precincts around the country allow people to vote early for elections, which is a dandy idea if you ask me.  I get to avoid a line even if there aren’t any real crowds (sadly), and I take care of my civic responsibility at a time that suits my schedule.  Early voting is a wonderful convenience.  Given the current political climate leading up to what is likely the most controversial and divisive presidential election of my lifetime, I would like to carry the concept one step further.  Let’s get this over with by having an early election.  If social media is any indication of the current volatility of emotion and anxiety surrounding the election, we need to blow the lid off this pressure cooker as soon as possible.  Is there really anybody left out there who hasn’t made a decision about the candidates?

If we’re honest with each other and ourselves, which hardly ever happens on social media, we know that what we all do is accentuate the negative news about the candidate we oppose and ignore the damning news about the one we support. After a while, most of the “breaking news” about the candidates just becomes sound and fury, signifying nothing. The latest scandal is just another bug on the windshield — hit the spray switch and the wipers and in a few seconds it’s gone. It doesn’t change the course, it certainly doesn’t change anybody’s mind, and it doesn’t get us any closer to being one nation indivisible.

Members of Congress will continue to thwart the efforts of the President no matter who wins the White House, and the President will continue to use executive orders and other powers to bypass Congress. With this model now firmly established in Washington, the federal government will get very little good work accomplished, which for some of the remnants of the Tea Party, will be just fine. The chances of the federal government shrinking any time soon are practically nonexistent, so the next best thing for the anti-government crowd is for the train to stall on the tracks. Of course, that means that horrible abuses of the system and wasteful spending of tax money will continue to escalate, and both of the controlling parties are equally out of control with spending.

I don’t know what it will take for Americans to overcome their deep differences. We may be too far gone. Even an attack on our own soil only produces a temporary and superficial sense of unity that is quickly forgotten when the partisan rhetoric machine cranks up again. I certainly don’t hold out any hope that Trump, Clinton, or Johnson will be able to bring the nation together. If the model of Darwinian evolution’s survival of the fittest can be applied to the U.S., perhaps we simply aren’t the fittest.

Why Trump Troubles Me

When it comes to politics, I am torn between fiscal responsibility and social justice, which seem to collide, even more violently these days. I am torn between my appreciation for capitalism and protecting those on whose bruised shoulders it really stands and not protecting those who all too often abuse it. I struggle with respecting traditions while making sure they aren’t forced on everyone, or worse yet, enforced by law. I am weary of victimization, the slippery slope syndrome, rudeness, hypersensitivity, and too much testosterone in today’s rhetoric.

However, I will express a concern about the election. What happens when all the people who are putting their faith in Donald Trump to “Make America Great Again” end up seeing absolutely no change in Washington if he is elected to the White House? What then? Is he the last great hope for making government efficient again, functional again, respectable again? Or perhaps we will see even more change than we can actually stomach. Trump is accustomed to getting exactly what he wants because he has the money, resources, and temerity to force through an agenda. During so many of his speeches on the campaign trail, Trump will talk about a change he believes his constituents are demanding, and his favorite phrase in those cases is “It’s gonna happen; it’s gonna happen.” But, what happens when he gets to Washington and encounters obstacles far greater than he has ever experienced in the world of business, namely Congress. Negotiation is not his style, as he has made clear over and over. He is not really interested in making deals; his approach is to always have the upper hand, forcing the other side to cave and submit to demands. What tools will be available to him as President to continue this practice? You think Obama abused the executive order privilege? You think Trump will let the Constitution get in his way?