This election showed how closely – and bitterly – divided Americans are. Suppose we go through another 2000 cliff-hanger one day?
Increasingly, we don’t just hold different views and opinions from our opponents. We hold them in contempt. We call them ignorant, bigoted, fascistic, communistic, unpatriotic and un-America. We question a winner’s very legitimacy.
Democrats do their share of the demonizing, but there is something about President Obama – and the coalition that elected him – that brings out a particularly dark and disturbing reaction. Some nuts talk of revolution and secession.
As Rob Christensen noted in his column Sunday, we’ve “sorted” ourselves into two parties that are “more partisan and more attuned to their most ideological wings.”
We’ve also sorted ourselves out geographically – in the neighborhoods and even the states where we live.
The result is a presidential election that is decided in a handful of swing states, while the majority of states are reliably and overwhelmingly red or blue.
This only increases the chances of a Bush-Gore replay: it all coming down to a handful of contested votes in one state. And at a time where, despite all our technology, our election machinery grows creaky, slow and increasingly open to challenge.
What if that had happened this time? What if it had all come down to Florida again?
What a field day the conspiracists, secessionists and extremists would have!
You’d like to think Americans would resist those calls to paranoia, overreaction and even violence. Would we?