Remember when America had that election and it got super weird, like a flesh-eating bacteria in the body politic, and it went on and on until we just wanted someone to club us over the head, repeatedly, until we were collectively comatose?
Enough with all that. Begone. Vaccinations for everyone, and let’s bring in a shaman, and burn some sage, and down a whiskey shot, and bid this election goodbye.
“I didn’t even cry at my wedding, but I just cried in there,” said Aditi Gorur, emerging from her polling location at a D.C. elementary school. “One, because this was my first vote as an American citizen. Two, because this election is finally over.”
“I am a Type 1 diabetic,” said Gary Robinson, who came out a few minutes later. “Do you have any idea what this election did to my [blood sugar] levels?”
Yes, half of you hate how the results turned out. Yes, the pollsters and political media screwed the pooch, and the election turned out differently than most expected it to. Yes, the country is barely Scotch-taped together and we have months of repairs ahead of us. But there is a bright side — there are portions of this election that we never, ever have to go through again.
Goodbye to debates. Goodbye to October surprises.
Goodbye to the people we became, the odd, shrieking, body-snatcher versions of ourselves who unfriended our kindergarten teachers and went on tirades about border walls, and were just so, so very tired and crabby.
“If you met me in person, you wouldn’t recognize me as the person I’ve been presenting myself to be on social media,” says Don Moynihan, a professor of public affairs at the University of Wisconsin. “I wouldn’t constantly be talking about politics. I wouldn’t be sarcastic toward whatever the breaking news was of the day.”
The low point of his personal election experience came when he found himself agitatedly firing up his laptop to live-tweet one of the presidential debates.
“At the time it all seemed so normal,” Moynihan says. (That, of course, was the most hideous part of all of this; it started to seem so normal to settle in every night and tune our default setting to “rage.”)
“I think that some fever will break now,” Moynihan says. “And we’ll come out of this as if from a dream.”
Goodbye to all the worst things we assumed about each other, to all the fetid political rumors we passed on without vetting, to all the times we could have sought to understand an issue and instead chose to underestimate it, then mock it, then tell the people who believed in it that they were Hitler. We moaned and fretted that this election had turned us into terrible people; in fact it revealed the terribleness that has always been a part of this country, and of human nature itself. Fear, and disdain, and a misguided belief that one person couldn’t be lifted up in this world unless another person was beaten down.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say goodbye to those impulses? Wouldn’t it be nice, on the first day of a new American chapter, if we could at least pretend to try?
We won’t miss polling numbers, and we won’t miss the new polling numbers telling us the old polling numbers were wrong. We won’t miss the Trump signs that had been graffiti’d into “Rump” signs; we won’t miss the Hillarys that became “Killary.” The past year has brought forth a hundred new terms and catchphrases, and initially we wondered which of them we should commit into the Smithsonian to help future generations understand 2016.
And then we realized: None of them. We don’t want to keep a thing.
“Surrogates.” Goodbye to that vaguely dystopian-sounding term referring to people who came onto news shows and parroted their candidates’ positions.
“Dumpster fire.” Goodbye to dumpster fire, which was never the right phrase anyway, because dumpster fires can be contained, whereas this election was a rampant forest fire of the soul.
“Private email server.” Goodbye. (Hello again. Goodbye again. Oh, hi again.)
“Lock her up.”
“Like, how big is something before you have to disavow it?” asks Jean Stanula, a nonprofit worker in Chicago, about the word that appeared whenever a candidate was accused of doing something bad. “Does it have to be particularly heinous? Otherwise can you just say you disapprove? Or you disagree? Disavow seems like a word Moses would have used, but it is definitely not a word I would ever use in my own life. If I screwed up in a relationship, I would never be like, ‘Baby, I’m sorry, I disavow my behavior.’ ”
Ministers have been worried about us, their collective flock. A website on topical sermons offers one called “When the Election Is Over,” and suggests reminding people that their true citizenship is in heaven — Ephesians 2:19. Mental-health experts have been worried about us, their collective patients, and the toll the election has taken on our psyches.
“I want to see people get back into some routines and patterns,” says Dwight Bain, the director of a Florida mental-health agency who has written about election anxiety. “This election does not have to destroy us. Practice daily, healthy rituals.” He is reminded of watching an old movie in which one character gives birth and the menfolk are instructed to boil water and rip up bedsheets.
“I asked my wife, why are they doing that?” he says. His wife speculated it was to give the characters something useful to do so they didn’t panic.
Go forth, America. Go forth and boil water. Use it to make a strong cup of tea and perhaps, with the bedsheets, a soothing poultice.
We’ll move on and adjust. We always do.
“I’m so looking forward to my Facebook page returning to normal,” says Cheri Ziegra, a dollmaker from New Hampshire. “As much as we used to say, ‘Not another kitten video’ — I’ve missed the kittens. I’ve missed the babies and the toddlers. Show me what you’re having for dinner. Those posts, like, ‘I have an ugly mole growing on my foot and it’s kind of black, what do you think it is?’ Show me your foot! Let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about anything but the election.”
Goodbye to the ulcers we gave ourselves, worrying about our insane relatives who would not see the truth.
Goodbye to Jill Stein.
“I’m With Her.”
“Trump That Bitch.”
Ziegra, a registered Democrat, is married to a lifelong Republican whom she persuaded to vote for Hillary Clinton, but not without moments of strife and difficult conversation. She is relieved to be done with that period of life.
“I’ve really, really missed the kittens,” she says.