I’m making my New Year’s resolution early this year. I’ve slated it for November 9th, less than one week from today.
One might be tempted to wonder what that upcoming Wednesday morning—more notably the morning after perhaps the most divisive presidential election in modern American history—will feel like. Will the atmosphere and mood of the nation be the kind of deafening silence that one imagines must follow a nuclear explosion, or will it be more like the sound of one hand clapping? Somehow, I anticipate that it’s going to be unsatisfyingly anticlimactic, whatever the outcome, in the way that a vicious fight that no one really wins is always tragically anticlimactic. I am sure of one thing: no matter who wins, nothing will be resolved as a result, because resolving the nation’s many serious issues was never really a part of the elective equation—not if you truly, objectively analyze the campaign rhetoric.
A study conducted under the auspices of the American Psychological Association reported that 52 percent of the adults polled said that they have felt stressed out as a direct result of the unrelenting cacophony of election coverage with its attendant rancor across the media and across the nation. And that study was done back when there were still a couple of months left to go. That percentage of the stressed is colossally higher than either candidate is likely to receive in the popular vote. I admit that I am one of those stressed people. I am a citizen of a country, it seems, that is no longer capable of dealing rationally with its own differences and working constructively toward solving its own problems. An elementary school in New York City that traditionally holds a mock presidential election every four years actually had to call it off this cycle because of the argumentative vitriol among the students. These are elementary school children.
I know of numerous friendships that were broken when those friends came down on opposing partisan sides. As a nation we have been through hell for more than a year. I wish I could say “ideological hell,” but that would actually constitute an undeserved elevation of political rhetoric that went beyond the pale with the pervasive and perverse sexual innuendo and accusations, the eye-blinkingly, shockingly absurd lies, the blatant racism and sexism—all only topped by the insidious and stupefying school-yard name-calling—that not only characterized both campaigns, but comprised their entire, vacuous substance. Out of nothing comes nothing.
So on the morning of the ninth, when this is all over, my mighty and ambitious resolution is to cease thinking about politics indefinitely. In order to do this, I plan to change the radio station I listen to in the morning. It’s the one that bills itself as “New Jersey’s Radio Station,” and some months ago they replaced the affable, humorous and always entertaining morning talk show host, a guy named Jim Gearhart, with a wannabe political pundit and a frustrated, failed state office seeker who talks nothing but politics and is, if you’ll excuse the phrase from an earlier era, a total downer.
I also plan to change the major network evening news I used to watch. You may know them as the ones that lay claim to being an “eyewitness” to everything that happens. I now refer to them as “Hyperbole News.” They routinely boast of having earned several Edward R. Murrow awards, but if Mr. Murrow were alive today to see the way the anchor of their national news segment distorts every story with utterly shameful histrionic, hyper-exaggeration, he would turn in his Press Pass and join the French Foreign Legion.
This will not be easy for me, because I am by nature a very loyal person. But loyalty, once a most respected quality trait, has kind of gone out of style these days. In fact, loyalty is kind of a joke. Only fools are loyal anymore. But if you ask me, that pretty accurately defines the people who vow unwavering loyalty to political parties that no longer stand for anything of principle, who thus cling to ideals that no longer exist in the reality show of modern American politics, and who align themselves with self-proclaimed leaders without principles who talk nothing but trash.
So. Once I have made these changes, I plan to strive not to think or talk about political things anymore forever. The futility of the past year is that I now realize that any time that I spent thinking or talking about our nation’s political morass was simply a waste of my time. I don’t want to waste my valuable time anymore. So I will try to persevere and prosper, going forward; although, over the next three years in the run-up to the time when we as a nation will have to embark once again on this sordid, destructive and offensive sham that our presidential elections have become, I suspect that from time to time, I will contemplate the increasingly attractive prospect of joining a monastic order somewhere high in the Himalayas.
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