Everywhere I go, people say they can’t take it anymore. Please, can it be over soon? They mean the presidential election.
I tell them it’s OK. If you feel stressed out, no less than the American Psychological Association says you’re not alone. More than half of all Americans report feelings of anxiety, anger and fear associated with the most bizarre and dispiriting campaign in memory.
At least something is bipartisan. “We’ve seen it doesn’t matter whether you’re registered as a Democrat or a Republican,” Lynn Bufka, the association’s associate executive director, told the New York Times. “U.S. adults say they are experiencing significant stress from the current election.”
No one should be surprised. In the beginning, voters were left to choose between the two least popular candidates in the history of presidential politics — and everything went downhill from there.
You know the rest. Republican Donald Trump managed to prove that dominating the news isn’t always a good thing. When it’s over, the leaders of the Republican Party may be thinking about what might have been. Only a few weeks ago, Democrat Hillary Clinton was the second-most disliked candidate in the history of presidential elections. If the polls are correct, she’s about to score a decisive victory.
Meanwhile, Republicans face significant losses in Congress (while incumbents fumble to explain why they do/don’t support Trump).
Americans fear the outcome of this election, and they fear that the animus associated with it will continue to poison the conduct of the public’s business, leaving a country divided and increasingly unstable.
As usual, “Saturday Night Live” last week made fun of the candidates, lampooning their idiosyncrasies and tics. But SNL also managed to deliver a simple truth about where we are as a country and where we might find common ground.
In “Black Jeopardy,” Doug, a Donald Trump supporter (Tom Hanks), turns up on a quiz show with an African-American host (Kenan Thompson) and two African-American contestants (Sasheer Zamata and Leslie Jones).
After having fun with the awkwardness of it all, the show’s host and the other panelists begin to discover they have things in common with Doug (wearing his “Make America Great Again” cap). They share, it turns out, a distrust of government and a distrust of elections.
Then the host reads the next toss-up answer: “The mechanic says you owe $250 for new brake lines.”
And Doug responds: “What is … you better go to that dude in the neighborhood who will fix anything for $40.”
“You know Cecil?” The host responds.
“Yeah, well, my Cecil’s named Jim, and he can fix my refrigerator, my air conditioner and my cat,” says Doug.
“Well, everybody’s got a guy …” agrees the host. “Whoa, you’re all right, Doug.”
The skit is both funny and wise. Washington Post critic Dan Zak said it “slyly illustrated that America’s problems are just as much about class as about race. In a campaign year that’s hinged on racial discord, partisan rancor and a deep suspicion of anyone who is ‘other,’ the sketch was deliciously cathartic.”
The racial divide remains, but the sketch reminds us that people on opposite sides of the current election have more in common than they might think. Both struggle to pay the bills, and both wonder why political elites won’t help them navigate an economy that is widening the gap between the rich and everyone else.