My books have always attracted a wide range of readers. Many of them are Democrats and many are Republicans so on my Facebook newsfeed I can see a wide range of emotions in response to the results of the election. Most of it is predictable. The Dems are jubilant, overwhelmed with relief and pumped up by victory. The Republicans are angry, devastated and scared.One of my earliest memories is of the election of Ronald Reagan. My mother was very focused on nuclear disarmament and in the months leading up to November she invited people over to show them films of the effects of Hiroshima. I was so young but I still remember the pictures of mutilated children. They terrified me. And I understood my mother's message. If Reagan wins we will all die. So when he did win I ran into my bedroom and hid under the covers shaking and crying. My mother immediately came to me, comforted me and walked back her words, assuring me that we probably wouldn't die after all. Again, I was a little kid. I didn't understand nuance. When people I trusted alluded to the idea that life as we know it depended on the results of an election I believed them and when things didn't go the way I wanted them to I freaked out. Like I said I was very young and naive so it took me years before I realized...
....we never grow out of any of that.
When it comes to politics people continually reject nuance. The leaders we admire continue to tell us that the fate of the world as we know it hangs in the balance of one election....that happens every four years. We continue to freak out when our guy doesn't win at which point the very leaders who told us we were about to be destroyed in an apocalypse give us a metaphorical pat on the head during their concession speeches and tell us that actually, if we work together we'll be okay after all. But it's hard to undue months of doomsday talk with one head pat so we continue to cry, shake our fists, hide under the covers and freak out until we notice that the sun really is still rising and setting every day just like it did before the election. Our towns are not on fire. No one is breaking into our homes and stealing away our birth control or our guns. Conversely when our candidate wins we eventually realize that our problems didn't magically disappear. Shockingly, life continues (and will always continue) to be hard in a lot of very real ways.
Of course not many of us delve into that particular brand of election-day-crazy while we're still tugging on our mother's skirts. I guess I was just precocious that way.
Anyway, what I'm saying is that if you voted for Romney and are now really upset and worried that this signals the end of everything you cherish about this country...well, I get it. If anyone tells you that you're stupid or gullible for feeling this way and that if you only really understood the issues you'd be happy Obama won tell them to shut up. If you voted for Obama and are dancing in the streets I say party on! If anyone tells you that you're stupid for being happy about this outcome and that if you only understood what was happening to this country you'd have voted for Romney tell them to shut up. If you don't want to hear the Democrats' cheers or the Republicans' rants then stay off of social media for a few days.
Because in a few days the Facebook posted pictures of candidates are going to be replaced with pictures of cute animals again and the biggest trending topic on Twitter will no longer be #election2012 but something more along the lines of #SadIceCreamFlavors. Most of us will start talking to the people who politically disagree with us again without a lot of acrimony knowing that they're not actually an enemy of our country and "knowing" in our heart of hearts that they're still wrong about everything. Anger will dull to disgruntlement, panic to low level anxiety, exhalation will dwindle to mild contentment and feelings of triumph will transform into low level anxiety about the next election. This is America. This is our process. It's emotionally exhausting but it works.