I said to myself, "Don’t write anything political if it doesn’t really contribute to the conversation. If it doesn’t offer a fresh look at an issue or a unique perspective on Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. If it’s not thoughtful or helpful to the American electorate in some way."
Well, good Lord, that is hard to do.
But I will corral my own vitriol, at least for the next 800 words or so, and attempt to express some observations about the current presidential race that I find to be, in some way, positive. Of course, I’d rather dunk my head in a bucket of acid. That’d be easier, anyway. Generally, I’m of the mind that if you say stupid s$@% and you also want to lead the country, we get to write about you in a way that makes you look as stupid as you talk. In fact, I feel that deep, dark satire during hotly contested political races is not only a privilege for, but the duty of, writers like me. But it’s true that, as a country, we’ve had our fill of "deep" and "dark." Our fill and then some. In fact, we’ve been nigh on foie gras-ed with "deep" and "dark." So. Positive observations about the presidential race. Here we go. Don’t laugh.
The electorate is engaged.
To what degree, I’m not sure. But it doesn’t take a political psychic to predict that at least people will turn up to vote in droves, probably even in numbers heretofore unseen in modern American politics. Now I’d venture to say that most people who show up to vote will show up because they positively hate the other candidate. Hatred is a fickle motivator, but check it out: People are going to vote. There will be A LOT of people going to the polls Nov. 8. But blue or red, when you exercise your right to vote, that makes the democratic ideals at the heart of America (they’re still there, I’m sure ...) glow a little brighter.
The death knell of the religious right has been sounded.
The curmudgeons who run things over at Focus on the Family and Liberty University (et al.) have never sounded so toneless, irrelevant and un-Christian (…seriously, it’s like they’ve traded Jesus Christ for Donald Trump and then drew nail marks on Trump’s hands with red Magic Marker). I think Christian voters, let’s say in particular age 40 and under, feel like they have less and less in common, and maybe nothing in common, with the saints who used to be able to control Christian votes just by whispering the word "abortion." It seems to me there’s been some sort of groundswell of more thoughtful political engagement from Christian people. Concepts such as social justice and racial reconciliation are on their minds, concepts that big-box Christianity tends either to ignore or even denigrate. Their politics and their faith are more nuanced than those of their predecessors, and that can only mean a more meaningful and inclusive bloc of American voters. Which is great. Oh, and they’re not scared of Dr. James Dobson or Jerry Falwell Jr., either. Which is also great.
People are really super-angry, and, at last, that’s clear to the majority of the country.
Anger is good, provided it doesn’t simply simmer. Provided it drives citizens to correct—at the polls—whatever it is that’s making them angry. Given there is a lot to be angry about in America right now, and if you don’t think so, I’d like to welcome you to here from under your rock. Clinton—and the Democrats as a whole, if she wins—would be gigantic fools to dance for too long on the political grave of Trump. Don’t gloat. Find a way to include the angry folks. And make no mistake that those folks who are so angry and have thrown their support to Trump because they are angry and because he is angry are going to feel a serious letdown the day after Inauguration Day. When they find out Trump doesn’t actually care about them. But anger is an undeniable part of this particular political climate. It can be directed to meaningful ends. That’s tough to do, but it is doable.
It’s been nice to see a stronger influence on the electorate from third-party candidates.
Not since the Texas-sized anomaly that was Ross Perot in 1992 has there been so much attention paid to candidates who aren’t blue or red. Now Gary Johnson promptly shot himself in the foot (what the hell kind of presidential candidate hasn’t heard of Aleppo?) and his campaign is now limping along and bleeding, but still. People a few blocks away from where I live actually have Johnson signs in their yard.
OK, done. Whew. Positive observations on this particular presidential race. That was hard. You know, it’s tough to find a pleasant smell coming from a dog turd.
Paul Luikart is a writer whose work has appeared in a number of places over the years. His most recent book, "Animal Heart," is available now from Hyperborea Publishing. Follow him on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.