We're in the final death throes of yet another ugly Presidential campaign. Since television became the major medium for communicating with the masses, it seems each campaign has tried to outdo its predecessor when it comes to mudslinging, half-truths, and just downright overall nastiness.
It is now six days until we either unleash Armageddon or jettison our remaining American traditions (depending on which candidate you support and assuming the other person gets in). I am discounting all of the third and fourth-party candidates because they, sadly, have no chance of being elected under our current system.
I do not like, admire, or respect Donald Trump. I admit that off the top. (It is difficult for me to respect or admire someone who brags, as Trump does, about avoiding taxes.) Nor do I tend to believe much of what he says. However, in one respect, I think he is right on the money, although not in the way he intends.
Trump has used the word "rigged" on several occasions during this campaign, hinting that the results will be rigged if he fails to win the White House. In that regard, he is mistaken. I do believe that the process is rigged to eliminate consideration of third-party candidates and to ensure that either a Democrat or a Republican is elected.
If memory serves, no third-party candidate has been invited to participate in the Presidential debates since Ross Perot in 1992. That is, in fact, the only time a third-party candidate has ever been invited to participate in a Presidential debate.
I suspect the 1992 election sent shock waves through the corridors of power, seeing how popular Perot's message was, and the money men on both sides of the political divide (despite some gains by women in terms of access to power, I suspect men still pull most of the strings) took steps to ensure no future "fringe" candidate ever got as close as did Perot to the Presidency.
Given the strong feelings against both of the major candidates, this election cycle might well have benefited from the participation of the Green Party"s Jill Stein and the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson. If nothing else, the answers to some of the debate questions might have had a better chance of staying on-topic.
Every four years, we go through this madness. Every four years, we complain about the candidates, saying this candidate will set back progress in some area 50 years or that candidate will destroy traditional American values. Every four years, we realize it didn't happen because the system is set up to protect the only traditional values that matter to those who actually control such things - power and money. Everything else is just window dressing.
I have no answers, no possible solutions. When I began writing this, I thought perhaps an election system similar to Britain's, in which third parties seem to be more valued, might be a possibility, but I'm not sure it could work here.
Instead, I suspect this "grand experiment," as America was once referred to, is slowly grinding to an end. America could well dissolve in the next few generations into a number of smaller nations based on shared geographic and cultural values. We have simply become more divided than we are united. Perhaps we have always been so and it ha simply become easier to recognize in this always connected world in which we live.
The good news is: the election is almost over. The bad news is: regardless of who wins, the vast divide between the two major political parties will continue to make it all but impossible to accomplish anything. That, and the fact that the next Presidential campaign will likely begin within a week of this election's conclusion.
We have the 24-hour news cycle and the 365-day political cycle. The noise no longer stops; it just becomes a constant hum in the background of our everyday lives.