Unlike any election I've experienced in my lifetime, the sense of anxiety and dread associated with tonight's results are uniquely intense.
I know who I voted for last week. You likely already voted or know who are voting for. Tonight we await the returns.
And while it matters (very much so) who wins this presidential election (and doubly so who wins in the state elections) the fact is that tomorrow we will have to live with it.
In living with the results, we will have to accept our role in them. We will have to hold ourselves accountable for the nastiness and divisiveness of this past year. All of the friends we have rebuked for disagreeing with us. All of the shitty things we said about our opponents and all of the shitty things said about our side of things. The abysmal practice of the online justice mob, using shame and bully tactics to beat up on those with whom they find offense.
With the Nixon/Kennedy debates, television changed our electoral process and never looked back. With this election, the internet has done the same, reducing the contest to an even more vapid and shallow popularity vote, the equivalent of giving candidates a thumbs up on Faceborg rather than seriously engage on the issues we all face. None of this is surprising. Television was designed to sell us things and most advertising uses fear and anxiety as a motivator. The internet (and specifically social media) is, as one critic pointed out, "democracy's revenge against democracy" allowing the far left and right fringes of ideology a bully pulpit. It also has no stop gap between the instant emotional response human beings are known to have and their public reactions to those responses so we have nothing but a spew of raw, unfocused emotional rage 24 hours a day.
The question is this: when the results are in, do we continue this path of rancor, using a tool of communication and sharing to scream at and beat upon those we disagree with? Or do we refrain from the childish tantrums encouraged by this campaign and at least attempt to behave like adults?
"But they do it!" you cry. "Their side is relentless and won't stop with the attacks. Fuck that."
When your tactics of retaliation are no different than those of your enemies, you have ceded the moral high ground and become nothing more than your enemy wearing a different shirt. When your approach is that roughly 50% of the country is your enemy, you've lost sight of what the experiment's goal was when it was conceived of some 240 years ago. Grab a baseball bat and smash your petulant face in a couple of times and knock that zealous streak out of your brain, already.
Stop with the acrimony and at least for a moment recognize that, overall, we live in the most peaceful time in our history, with less war, crime, or economic hardship than in anytime in our history. Women and PoC have it better on a day to day basis than during any time during the 240 years we've been a united states. Progress HAS been made and progress will continue to be made.
For myself - as that is the only control I have or will ever have - I will try to look at the moment I wake up with the results of this long, unendurable presidential campaign and reflect on how we let things go so far and, hopefully like our new president and Congress, figure out how to bridge the gap between these two furiously childish sides of our country.
And, let's be honest, the day after, I'll probably put up a meme about how stupid the other side is.