Elections — American elections in particular — are bad stories. They’re all heat, no light. Months of “campaigns” that consist almost entirely of barely-disguised fist-fighting. The entire election narrative, every single plot point and minor character and line of dialogue, is designed to trigger fight-or-flight reactions in the American electorate, and almost all of us do get triggered, and when the voting is all over and the votes have been counted, about half the country will feel victorious, as if some sort of safety or security has been obtained, and half the country will either feel beaten and cowed and perhaps a bit melancholy or, worse, doubly entrenched in anger and vowing revenge at the next election. This is savagery. This is a population tearing at itself, opening wounds in its own hide, and utterly wanting for bandages. It’s brutal.
Would that there were someone with the dramaturgical prowess to help us re-write that story. Would that we could find a way to listen to one another, make the selection of our country’s leadership and direction a difficult but genuine progress toward enlightenment: an every-four-year’s opportunity to close whatever distances may have arisen between us in the intervening years. Would that we could end every election day with a sense of triumph, with a marriage instead of a death, with a happy celebration of our coming-together. Â Would that election season were a year-long inquiry into the state of our national soul instead of a mud-slinging wrangle for more volume and greater devastation of one’s opponents.
Let’s revise the vote. If not tomorrow, then soon; if not soon, then as quickly as we can. It may not seem possible, and I must admit that I don’t know how we’d do it, but I’d like us to start thinking about it. Let’s even carry that thought with us into the ballot box tomorrow. What could it hurt, after all, to be dreaming of a better future when we make the most important decision of the year? Little to none, I hope you will agree.