Back when America was “great” – say, in the 1970s – the most unpleasant emotions a presidential race might inspire were “fear and loathing”. We expected our political process to provoke antagonism and ennui. We did not expect it to trigger projectile vomiting.
But this year is different, with psychotherapists reporting widespread depression, insomnia and digestive problems among the electorate. Record numbers are voting early, by mail, as if to purge themselves of all connection to the proceedings.
Add in the realization that the whole world is watching this spectacle and the sensitive American is likely to feel something akin to physical shame – as if someone had walked in and found them deflowering a close relative or a pet. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, the Clinton email scandal looped in penis-fetishist Anthony Wiener, estranged husband of Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin. The most sordid side of our democracy has been laid out for all the world to see.
On the Republican side, there is a person so broadly offensive that the liberal news source Huffington Post feels obliged to end every article mentioning him with the kind of warning you might expect to find on a cigarette pack.