It’s been a ghastly election season

Published 11:01 am Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It is ironic, but probably not coincidental, that election time and Halloween occur so close to one another.

The gremlins, ghosts and goblins associated with the latter can certainly be found in abundance in the former, the gremlin politicians who are constantly creating havoc with ill-advised and frivolous bills, amendments and add-ons, the goblin politicians who simply run for office in order to advance their own personal vendetta and the ghost politicians who, once in office, seem to become ethereal, never really visible any more to those who placed them in office.

And this election season has been not only one of the strangest in modern history, but may well go down as being the longest, most contentious, defamatory and repugnant.

Oh sure, many political campaigns in our past have been conducted at the very low end of civility and some have transpired with no civility at all. Even one of our most revered forefathers, Thomas Jefferson, was not above resorting to some really scurrilous name calling in his bid for the presidency.

However, one of the things that characterized those election campaigns of old compared to what happens these days is the difficulty of transmitting one’s message in those past years.

About the only means of communication for candidates was through personal speeches or debates, which typically reached only a few hundred people at a time. Even newspaper coverage limited to fairly small regions of the country. Obviously national newspapers and news wires were not available to candidates in the early 1800s.

But today, anything a candidate says can be almost instantly transmitted to the entire world … and usually is. Further, the entire world now has some influence on how the American elections conclude because the positions of the candidates and their parties are closely scrutinized and evaluated by other countries and governments, both friendly and unfriendly, whereas news of elections shortly after the birth of this nation would generally take weeks or months to traverse the Atlantic.

There are — at least — two issues which make the 2016 election cycle so deplorable. First, the length of time that has passed since candidates first began their primary battles and second, the enormous amount of vitriol that has accompanied the campaign, not only amongst the candidates themselves (remember all the lurid comments made during the Republican primary) but the lies, innuendo and derogation spouted by supporters of both sides, even to the point of physical confrontations and threats of assassination.

American elections have typically been characterized by our ability to put aside most differences once the elections are concluded and work together for the common good. There may have always been deep-seated resentment on the part of the losers, but that resentment has never resulted in outright revolution or major strife.

That may not be the case this time. Some groups supporting one or the other candidate have expressed a militancy that has not been seen in decades. If one side or the other feels cheated by the outcome one can only hope that calm and reason will prevail and that any lingering enmity can be overcome with an understanding that this republic thrives when we put aside our differences and work in favor of interests which are beneficial to all.