The American people want this election season to be over. And they wanted it to be over yesterday.
When asked by the Huffington Post’s election tracker in October whether they were “enjoying this presidential election” or wish the election were over, 81% of Americans surveyed picked the “I wish the election were over” option. In the same poll, 59% said that they heard too much discussion about the presidential election, and an astounding 68% agreed with the notion that this year’s contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was either very stressful or somewhat stressful.
Regardless of political party or ideology, Americans like the 2016 presidential election about as much as they like going into the dentist’s office for a root canal.
If the 2012 presidential contest between US president Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney was a long, drawn-out battle in which “Obamacare” and “higher taxes” were the buzzwords, this election cycle is a war fought almost exclusively with dirty bombs.
The war got even dirtier—if that’s possible—last week following FBI director James Comey’s decision to send members of Congress a letter indicating that his investigators were now looking into emails potentially related to the Clinton inquiry.
Comey’s decision has been slammed by liberals who called into question the director’s timing of the letter, openly speculating that Comey himself may be secretly pulling for the Republican candidate. Senate minority leader Harry Reid has gone as far as directly accusing Comey of breaking federal law. The Trump campaign and congressional Republicans, meanwhile, have embraced Comey’s review of additional emails as a gift from the heavens. Many, including Trump himself, are hopeful this development will be enough to give the Republicans the momentum they needed to stop another Clinton from moving into the White House.
The FBI, an agency normally regarded by Americans as an example of integrity and impartiality under the law, has been dragged into the gutter by election-year politics. The Bureau is now a convenient talking point for Republicans to use as ammunition, just as Comey’s decision to conclude the Clinton case this summer was hailed as vindicating by Democrats. Nothing, it seems, is sacred in 2016—even the work of federal investigators.
Ultimately, the FBI debacle offers the perfectly awful ending to a perfectly awful campaign season. The media obsessing on a 24-hour basis about a scandal that may not even be a scandal is almost a microcosm of the entire presidential campaign—18 months of wall-to-wall coverage about every statement, rally, policy speech, rumor, and tweet that emanates from the mouths of the candidates or leaks from the inner sanctum of the political parties. A campaign that ends in a scandal connected to the male genitalia of a disgraced politician named Weiner? Sounds like the perfect ending for a political satire. Unfortunately, this is the real presidency of the United States we are talking about.
Politics is, by its very nature, a dirty and often divisive business, particularly in a presidential election. Although it’s doubtful anyone could have predicted exactly how bad it would get.
In case one needed any more evidence of how negative the country has become, consider the Gallup poll that assessed why voters are choosing particular candidates to support. It’s not because of the candidates’ policies or their experience. The top factor that voters consider when deciding whether to support Clinton or Trump is how negatively they view the other candidate.
Indeed, Clinton and Trump supporters can’t even agree on basic facts, let alone plans and policies. When Americans on the opposite ends of the political spectrum are unable to see eye to eye on just about anything, it’s safe to assume that the US will need to go through a long, collective therapy session once this campaign is finally over next Tuesday.
There is, however, one thing that conservatives, liberals, and moderates can likely all agree on: the sooner the election is over, the better off this country will be.
This isn’t the ending anyone wanted, America. But it is the ending we deserve.