By Charles M. Blow – The New York Times.
America, Election Day is our national day of reckoning, the day we do battle at the ballot box to beat back the advance of the butternut squash-tanned barbarian.
I know you’re exhausted and exasperated. I know the lunacy has taken its toll. I know that your incredulity has grown in you like a tumor.
I know that media coverage has been infuriating and the parade of Donald Trump deflect-and-detract minions a source of endless frustration.
I know that there have been some out-of-body, what-the-hell-is-going-on moments as details about Trump’s past have come to light — revelations that would have spelled the end of a candidate during previous cycles — and people have simply pushed past them with bizarrely twisted rationales.
I know that those of you with friends in other countries have been bombarded by baffled callers wondering, “What on Earth is America thinking?”
I know that you know what I know: Trump is truly one of the worst candidates to ever seek the presidency. And, a large part of that is due to his instability and malleability, all part of his no-holds-barred pursuit of power.
He is simultaneously hostile and fragile. He is bombastic and whiny. He waffles on ideology even as he pursues ideologues. He is vengeful and vacuous. He professes his championing of women while consistently insulting them and boasting of assaulting them. He reaches out to African-Americans while hiring an alt-right advocate as his campaign’s chief executive and a campaign adviser who brags about suppressing the black vote.
Donald Trump himself is at the center of his value system. He doesn’t care about America, or the Republican Party or any particular principle. Trump is about personal enrichment and unending, unequivocal affirmation. Trump is a megalomaniac, in addition to many, many other awful things.
When he’s reading prepared remarks from a teleprompter, some people forget who he is, but I simply can’t. I can’t get past it; I can’t get over it. Trump as president is America’s nightmare scenario, an election that would herald the end of the empire.
No person who fully comprehends just how young and fragile this experiment is that we call a fully representative democracy would ever even entertain the concept of taking a chance on this destruction in a tie and under a mysterious mane.
But too many Americans seem very much O.K. with Trump, so much so that he is very much in the running to win, although Clinton clearly has the upper hand at the moment.
And so, the stress is real.
According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, 82 percent of voters said that this campaign has made them feel more disgusted about American politics.
A Colby College-Boston Globe poll last month found that 64 percent of likely voters felt this year’s election was much more negative than previous ones, and 80 percent thought that America should be embarrassed by our election process based on this election.
As far back as July, 59 percent of Americans said they felt “worn out” by the amount of election coverage, according to the Pew Research Center.
The American Psychological Association has even issued an advisory about the stress that this election has caused. It points out:
“Facing one of the most adversarial contests in recent history and daily coverage of the presidential election that dominates every form of mass media, 52 percent of American adults report that the 2016 election is a very or somewhat significant source of stress. The survey was conducted online among adults 18+ living in the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association.”
With Trump our boat isn’t just driving toward the falls. He has powered the motor and is propelling us at full speed, while half of the country shrieks in fear and the other half, in deranged delirium, giddily greets destruction.
But Tuesday you have the power to turn things around. You no longer have to passively take this torture; now you can do something about it (if you haven’t already): You can vote!
Indeed, the American Psychological Association issued five tips for managing the stress of this election, the last of which was this:
“Vote. In a democracy, a citizen’s voice does matter. By voting, you will hopefully feel you are taking a proactive step and participating in what for many has been a stressful election cycle. Find balanced information to learn about all the candidates and issues on your ballot (not just the presidential race), make informed decisions and wear your ‘I voted’ sticker with pride.”
On Election Day, you get to have your voice heard and choice registered. You get to say yes to normalcy and rationality and no to insanity.
On Election Day, you can do something that counts and make a stand for your country, for your mental health, for your life. Exercise your power.