I have tried for several weeks to write an extended essay on the vitriol that passes for political discussion in this country, the effect it has on the electorate, and why it’s completely irrelevant to how America truly is, has been, and will be as a nation. For some reason, I haven’t been able to forge it all into a cohesive piece, but my bottom line message was/is that, despite who we elect as our leaders, life in this country doesn’t change on as grand a scale as we’re led to believe. Regardless of what the fear-mongers want you to believe (entirely because it advances their agenda), the republic will not fall if the guy you voted for doesn’t win the White House.
Well, it turns out that Matt Taibbi wrote what I couldn’t. His entire piece is worth your time, but here’s an excerpt:
Years from now, when we look back at these last days and weeks before this 2012 election, what we’re going to remember is how intensely millions of Americans hated during this time, how many shameless and dishonorable lies were told as the race tightened (we scratched and clawed at each other like sewer rats over every absurd factual dispute, finding ways to shriek at each other even over things that by definition are nobody’s fault, even over acts of God like Hurricane Sandy) and how reflexively people on opposite sides of the race disbelieved each other and laid blame at each others’ feet over just about every issue, important or (more often) not.
People who live in other countries, who grew up in the third world or live now in terminally wobbling mob states of the ex-Communist variety, they must look at our behavior now in election years and think we’re crazy. You have to have lived in a country with real problems and real instability to realize this, but life doesn’t change too terribly much in America no matter which party wins the presidency – not real change, the way people in the rest of the world understand real political change, i.e. in terms of reprisals and collapsed currencies and assassinations and other such disasters. For most of us, our day-to-day lives won’t change a lick no matter who wins tonight. If we just turned off our cable channels and stayed off the net, it would take months, maybe years, for most of us to guess who won.
So all this freaking out and vicious invective-trading looks nuts from the outside: it looks like we’re making up reasons to hate and fear each other, summoning the language of violent civil unrest with a hedonistic zeal that only people who haven’t experienced the real thing could possibly enjoy.