Sweet baby Jesus, it’s finally almost over.
As I write this Halloween night full of miniature chocolate bars, the most gruesome election in forever has one week left. If there’s a feeling of relief it’s the kind of relief you get during a severe stomach virus and you’ve just thrown up. There’s hope you’re going start getting better, but logic tells you a new wave of nausea is coming.
That’s where we are nationally — collective heads in the toilet, enduring a political vomitus unlike any we’ve seen since Samuel J. Tilden was called a drunken syphilitic in 1876. Hard to tell if it was the Trump that looked so good there in the fridge at midnight but tasted funny, or maybe the expired Hillary we convinced ourselves still had shelf life? It really doesn’t matter now, we just want the queasiness to stop.
But it’s not going to.
There are sure to be readers who have faith their chosen candidate is prepared to somehow step out of this cesspool campaign, wipe off the muck and govern in an effective and inspired way, but there’s no way that can be the majority opinion. After watching what’s transpired over the past 10 months there’s not enough Dawn dish soap in the world to wash away the grease, no matter which way this thing breaks.
Personally I believe neither candidate deserves my vote, but that’s a personal decision made in a state where it really won’t matter. My only hope is enough third-party or write-in ballots cast nationwide might encourage someone “reasonable” to make a run in 2020 at breaking up the two-party system stranglehold on the U.S. presidency that routinely manages to cull a psychically damaged or otherwise inept individual from more than 300 million people to lead this great nation.
What’s coming next is as obvious as an Anthony Weiner selfie. If Hillary Clinton prevails she will not only become the first woman president but will likely do so under investigation. Certainly she would be the most criminally investigated person we’ve ever had sworn in as president. Talk about shattering the glass ceiling! Go, girl! I guess you can have it all.
The troubles that lie ahead might not be so clear for a President Trump, but he should certainly expect to have just about every business deal and international relationship combed through like that orange coif clinging for dear life atop his noggin. Imagine the specter of President Trump having to testify about his shady university or his Russian business ties.
The most unlikely vision of the future for either potential president would be one in which there weren’t depositions and endless investigations, or where James Comey isn’t being praised one day and reviled the next. Frankly it’s hard to imagine.
Both candidates have pushed their desire to be president far ahead of the country’s best interests. It’s hard to believe at this point that either one can possibly in their heart of hearts think they are positioned to do a great job leading the country. Of course that doesn’t mean both don’t want to win more than they want the next lungful of air.
It’s cringe inducing to imagine the smug smile of whichever one of these candidates wins next Tuesday. Will it be Hillary’s insane cackle or Trump’s insufferable “I told you so?” Can I still fit a No. 2 pencil into my ear canal so I don’t have to hear either? I may find out.
Make no mistake, this election will leave no winners. The candidates and the system have been exposed to the bone and it’s going to be impossible to put the skin back on. As Watergate served to wipe away any remaining shreds of post-war patriotic naivety that still hung around the presidency, the 2016 election has exposed a level of cynicism within the political structure that formerly may only been believed by angry bloggers in the far corners of the internet.
Perhaps this is the perfect progression of politics in the post-reality TV show world. Campaign staffers’ innermost thoughts are splashed across screens worldwide. So much time was spent talking about bagging babes and grabbing crotch that it seemed like an episode of “Jersey Shore” with Wikileaks serving as a “confessional.” Secret speeches, long-held videos and withheld taxes all had their place.
That the creepy-clownish Anthony Weiner ended up playing major part in rolling this debacle up in a nice neat ball is a plot twist so outlandish it would wind up in the trash can of even the cheesiest Hollywood producer.
The thing about writing an epitaph for this election with a week still to go is I’m bound to miss some truly bizarre addition that hits over the next seven days. It wouldn’t be “Decision 2016” without a jaw-dropping moment almost daily. What’s next, dirty emails between Hillary and Trump? Naughty photo exchanges between Weiner and Bill? Nothing seems impossible.
The fuel-injected cynicism that will be the biggest legacy of this election is completely justified. Never have two candidates more obviously, consistently and shamelessly lied to the public about even the most mundane details. Never has media looked less trustworthy or more like they’re playing sides. Never have the choices seemed so unpalatable.
If there’s anything good to be taken from this election it has to be the way our political process has been exposed. For people to see things as they truly exist can’t hurt, especially if it tempers some of the rabid enthusiasm displayed by those who dwell on both ends of the political spectrum.
The political process needed shaming — even more than poor Ken Bone did after it was discovered he liked looking at pictures of women’s butts online. Turns out the “Bone Zone” wasn’t such a happy, red-sweatery, pornstachey kind of place after all. Whether the shaming will bring changes to our politics, or to Ken for that matter, only time will tell.
I would say the nation is going to have severe political drama withdrawals after next week, but my guess is the good times are far from over. But take a deep breath next week and enjoy whatever respite there is before the next wave hits.