Freudian psychologists tell us there’s a dark side to everyone. We all have an inner beast – nasty, vicious, uncivilized. And the American presidential campaign has awakened my dark side. It has gone on way too long.
I used to be able to discuss politics amicably with my Republican neighbors. Now I avoid them. I have nothing to say to them and I want to hear nothing from them.
When the Republican candidates – or pundits who sympathize with them – appear on TV, I instantly hit the “mute” button. I cannot bear to hear them any longer.
Sometimes I get so enraged that if I were face-to-face with Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, I think I might actually throw a punch at them.
If you are a relative or friend of mine and you support the Romney-Ryan ticket, please don’t talk politics to me – at least not for a while. I am mad as hell and I wouldn’t be able to talk nice to you. I cannot remember disagreeing so fiercely with everything a presidential ticket stands for.
And obviously my inner beast has lots of company – on both sides.
Everything President Obama or Joe Biden does or says is viciously attacked by conservatives. They ridicule Joe’s laughter in the debate against Ryan, for example, trying to obscure the fact that Joe was right and Ryan was wrong. But who could blame Joe for laughing in Ryan’s face? Confronted with the absurd travesty spewing from Ryan’s razor-thin lips (doesn’t he look a lot like Punch in the Punch and Judy show?), I would have had to laugh, too – or gnash my teeth in rage.
How dare Ryan make political capital out of that awful tragedy in Benghazi? How dare he denigrate Hillary Clinton’s sterling achievements as secretary of state and the president’s relentless commitment to the annihilation of the terrorists who would do Americans harm?
Have the Republican candidates no shame?
It’s no wonder that the parents of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the mother of Navy SEAL Glen Doherty.are protesting Romney’s political exploitation of their sons’ deaths in the Benghazi attack.
Nothing Ryan or Romney says could change my mind. They might as well be quiet, as far as voters like me are concerned. And I am sure the Obama haters are just as obdurate in their determination to get rid of him.
I don’t see how anything that Obama says in Tuesday night’s debate can change anyone’s vote. And nothing Romney will say could have any impact either. Americans made up their minds long ago; many of them have already voted. All the debate can do now is enrage both sides further. All the campaign can do now is make Americans hate each other more.
For all I know, it could be just theater.
Perhaps, after the election, the president and Mitt Romney will go off and have a beer together. Perhaps Biden and Ryan will share a joke over coffee in some Congressional cafe. Perhaps.
But I won’t feel the same about my Republican friends and relatives as I did before the campaign. It will be a long time before I can let bygones be bygones.
And I am sure I have lots of company.
Americans are divided right down the middle. And the chasm between the two sides has widened alarmingly in the past few years.
After this destructive campaign, the gulf could be too wide to heal. America might never be the same again.
I know I won’t be.