With the end of the toxic and bitter presidential campaign finally in sight, the entire country now seems braced for a crash landing. Hillary and Trump are fighting for control in the national cockpit while the rest of us cringe. Those who aren't asleep are sick with nausea, barf bag in hand.
It could be said that the flight would have been intensely unpleasant under the best of circumstances. The country is hopelessly fractured, though that is hardly news. What is news, however, is the volume of news itself and the speed at which it hits us. And make no mistake, all of us who have been paying attention, indeed feel hit.
We are stuck in overload mode, inundated by a steady stream of controversies and debates. The only relief is the off switch, which many of us can't even find let alone use. Newspapers nor newspaper endorsements matter. News is news you might say. Yes, but reading a newspaper -- and when was the last time you did that? -- is a qualitatively different experience than checking multiple websites in mere seconds on your smartphone. The very phrase "turning a page" seems quaint, almost pastoral. Meanwhile, our incessant scrolling has created a booming market for wrist braces.
Breaking news -- and all news is "breaking" these days -- is followed by instant analysis. There is no time to digest and consider, because in the time it takes to do that more instant analysis is needed for more breaking news. Amplifying things further, every subject is fuel for argument, not just the old standbys of politics, sports and religion. We debate everything, from whether Bob Dylan is deserving of the Nobel Prize in Literature to whether Wonder Woman is worthy of being named a UN Global Ambassador. No subject is too trivial to not get worked up over.
Amidst the non-stop war of words, there is at least one thing Americans agree on: We want the campaign to be over. Its sheer length -- it has been 16 months since Trump descended down the escalator into the pit of American political theater -- has taken a toll on all of us. The worst possible scenario would be Hillary winning and Trump contesting, thereby extending the nightmare campaign into 2017.
Actually, in a deeply disturbing sense Trump has already won. Previously we were able to just tune him out, but that has been impossible for some time. We must now take his poisonous nonsense seriously. We ignore him at our own peril.
Meanwhile, Hillary hardly provides an inspiring alternative. As if being the first presidential candidate in history under an FBI investigation wasn’t bad enough, she has been linked, albeit circuitously, to Anthony Weiner. Even so, only being linked to Bill Cosby would be worse. Hillary is unable to move beyond her disastrous decision to have a private server while Secretary of State and remains hopelessly mired in scandals and investigations. Her husband lurking in the background serves only as an unsettling reminder of the heavy baggage the Clintons will move back into the White House with them should Hillary win.
Under these circumstances, voting for an idealistic third party candidate could have appeal. But Gary Johnson, the leading third party candidate, could not name a world leader when asked. It was unclear if he could name a country.
And so, there is no candidate to vote for, only against. Our next president is already highly unpopular, totally unfit for office, and should be immediately impeached.
Please fasten your seat belts. More turbulence ahead.