"If, in this [2008 Presidential] campaign, illusion triumphs over what we must believe is reality, we will fail as a nation. There is, after all, a point of no return. If McCain wins, history is here big time, scythe, sackcloth and all four horsemen."--Robert Stone, quoted in the New York Times Book Review, Sunday, September 14, 2008


My Take on Election Coverage

It's that time again: time for me to become exquisitely adept at steering clear, as much as possible, of any and all coverage of the US Presidential election. I cheerfully skip all of the articles in the Times in any way related to the election, the candidates, or the issues. As I do whenever there's a soundbite from our current Fearless Leader, I turn the volume on the radio down all the way and whistle for a few moments whenever NPR starts to veer election-ward. And I don't own a TV, so luckily it's wildly easy for me to completely avoid the hellhole that is TV news.

This came today in an e-mail from Dana:
wilska, i've been trying to follow your media diet but it
isn't working. i'm completely obsessed with the train wreck
that is mccain/palin and the half of our electorate that
seems to want them in the driver's seat. ack. any advice?
I replied,

Love, I approach the news like this:

If I read/listen to/watch this [where "this" roughly equals anything at all having to do with the election], will it in any way make me happier? Will it change my mind? Will it make me see things from a different perspective?

To date, 100% of the time, the answers to those questions have been resounding NOs. I figure that if, heaven forbid, Americans prove by and large to be a group of people who are at best misguided, at worst serious fuckwads, there will be ample opportunity for tearing of hair, worrying about the fate of the country, and scoping out cabins on the Canadian prairie. This may be the last chance I have to believe that there's more good than bad left in this nation, and I'm too stubborn and greedy to give that up.
That's sort of sad but also painfully true. Unless you're a liberal in this country, or a liberal elsewhere who cares deeply about the outcome of this election, it's hard to understand how awful it is to be staring down the gun of the possibility of four more years of Republican rule, especially in the wake of the multi-faceted disaster the past eight years have been. If 2004 was an unbelievably heartbreaking letdown (which it was), multiply that hurt, anger, frustration, and sadness by ten thousand and you have a fair sense of why we're so worried.

And there's nothing we can do with that worry, really. I mean, sure, we all can (and should) do things like call prospective voters and drive people to the polls on election day and donate to the Obama campaign, but beyond that, our hands are tied. It's that feeling of powerlessness, that aching fear that once again we might watch things go horribly, ridiculously wrong, and might realize anew how far the US has skewed to a right that doesn't care for logic or justice, that I can't yet handle.

So I keep myself in the dark. Let the polls heave up and down. Let the lies and hypocrisy flow. Let the pundits pontificate. I want nothing to do with it.

On November 5, I'll start paying attention again, because by then I'll know whether to believe that there is indeed a chance to turn things around here, to claw ourselves out of the hole we've been in, or whether to sigh and give up.