The calendar tells us that today is November 1. Normally, those of us living in the Midwest would feel a certain grim foreboding at the turn of the calendar’s page, because November is the gray slayer of the last remnants of summer and the bringer of cold, bitter weather.
This year, however, the arrival of November is blessedly welcome — because it means this wretched presidential election is almost over, and we have only one week of it left to endure.
With one week to go, we should pause to consider, again, just how awful this election has been — but of course no one wants to think about that, because it’s just too depressing. We’ve ended up with a crass, blustering, know-nothing political dilettante running against an uninspired insider who seems baffled that the campaign isn’t a coronation. We’ve seen recordings of unforgivably crude behavior and a failure to provide basic information, like personal tax returns, on one hand, and allegations of corruption, insider politicking, and a lack of true personal accountability on the other. It’s been a campaign rocked by planned leaks, video of a candidate apparently fainting and being dragged into a van, charges of sexual maulings and misconduct, and investigations of pay-for-play and tawdry business practices. Oh yeah — and we saw a debate where the ultimate nominee Donald Trump talked about the size of his hands.
I know that presidential campaigns have always been down and dirty, but this campaign, and the political climate generally, seems especially destructive. Important national institutions that were once viewed as separate and apart from politics have been brought deeply into the toxic mix. The Supreme Court has become a forum to resolve political disputes and has been left short-handed for months because Congress won’t consider a nominee. Former military officers are making commercials for one candidate or another, giving the sense that the campaigns are trading on the apolitical traditions of the military to try to lend much-needed credibility to their attacks on their opponents. Now the FBI is being harshly criticized as a politicized entity because of its announcements about its investigation of the mystifying email practices of Hillary Clinton and her staff while she served as Secretary of State. And, as the campaign nears its conclusion, we are reminded, again, that a vulgar embarrassment like Anthony Weiner once served in Congress and was viewed by some as an up-and-coming star.
So November, I am glad you are here. We’ve got just one more week to go — let’s hope we survive it. And, when the election is finally ended and one of these candidates ends up as our next President, let’s hope the country can survive it, too.