If you suffer from a particular kind of American Exceptionalism -- the fear Americans will make an exceptionally poor choice in November, here's some help.
You're not alone in worrying. It's not just because you may vote for a loser. I've voted for quite a few losers in my time. The fear is that the undeserved winner will actually ruin your life. I sympathize. I've experienced this before and learned how to survive this particular trauma.
When Bush Part Deux won the first time in 2000, I was bereft. I was annoyed with Gore for dismissing Clinton's help, I was furious about the Supreme Court decision, and I never wanted to hear the name Chad again. But I moved on with my life; Gore wasn't my first loser, and probably wouldn't be the last. But when 43 won again in 2004, I was despondent. War hero Kerry was made to look like a traitor, while warmonger Bush was somehow invited back for another four years. It was unbelievable and I thought it was an untenable situation for my happy life. I simply couldn't abide four more years. I had an impossible time accepting the choice made by the electorate. But I had to go on, right?
So, I crawled out from under the covers a few days after Election Day, determined to find a way to get past the election results. I found three ways to move on:
1. Find a faux president who makes you happy. First I hung a picture of Bush on my dartboard. But that felt wrong; violence is rarely a good solution. So, instead I hung a photo of Martin Sheen on the wall and decided for the duration of the Bush years, Jed Bartlett would not just be my TV president, he'd be the president in my home. It helps you if watch reruns of The West Wing. At least for the hour you watch, Bartlett will be your leader and all will be right with the world.
2. Do something good for others. Since I sincerely believed Bush would be the root of problems for so many people, particularly those in need of a helping hand, a good education, or a fair wage, I decided to do something to offset those difficulties. I couldn't fix all of America but I could do my tiny part to make life a little better for some Americans. I started delivering meals on wheels to the elderly and shut-ins. This weekly activity made me feel as though I was in some way counter balancing the bad with some good.
3. Focus on the next election. Reflect on this: Bush was such a bad leader; his utter failure resulted in an historic watershed event. America managed to right its previous election wrong with a stunning 2008 election right in choosing the first African American president. Seriously, do you think that would have happened if Kerry had won?
Finally, consider this true story. In 2003 I was on a beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. (You know, when anyone could use a bathroom in that state without fear of being hauled off to jail!) I was sitting near two women who were discussing who should and should not be wearing a Speedo. While I wasn't included in their game, mostly because I would not want anyone to judge the way I look in a Speedo or any other bathing suit, I did hear what they were saying and could see the people they judged.
An older gent walked by and these ladies voted "No" on his sporting a Speedo. I noted he looked dapper, or as dapper as one can look in a Speedo. I was about to say so when I noticed something else. He didn't just look dapper; he looked familiar. He was George McGovern. I walked over and extended my hand to shake his and said, "Sen. McGovern, I am honored to meet you. I voted for you in my first ever presidential election."
"Oh, you're the one," he replied, smiling broadly.
If this guy could find a way to survive his election debacle of 1972, you can survive whatever happens in 2016. But in the meantime we'll all hope for the right outcome.
If you enjoyed my take on the world, here's another piece I wrote for Grand Magazine that could make you smile.