Masks

“What monster is this we’ve created?”

I find myself somewhat apprehensive about the coming hours. As polls begin to close on the eastern seaboard, the news media and prognosticators and the pundits will begin to mount their mound of predictions. And we will wait for what will seem like a span of time longer than even the presidential campaign to get the official results. Undoubtedly, those reports will come after accusations of wrong-doing and malfeasance and other election ugliness.

Yesterday, Senator Obama promised his audience that “change will begin occurring tomorrow.” Of course, in truth, change happens daily. But the change he talks about really won’t begin as the votes come in today. The serious change he has promised will come over long negotiations and perhaps bitter struggle over the next 4 years. He promises unity, but the potential for polarization looms pretty large.

And, Senator McCain told his followers that “the ‘Mac’ is back!” Obviously, that’s a literary reference to the Phoenix-like qualities of this Arizona statesman and a rallying cry that victory, even in the face of less than favored status in the polls, is close. Or possibly just a tie-in to an old fast-food commercial. He promises change as well. Yet, any shifts in policy he pursues will meet similar protracted battles and angry outcries.

Strange, this mandatory pursuit of change in politics. People want change, right? Yet we struggle in our personal lives to minimize change. And we minimize change because of our fear of what change may bring. “What we have, no matter how bad, could ever be as bad as what could be.”

So we’ll wake up tomorrow with a new leader. And if it’s my candidate or yours, we’ll all face the news with a little bit of dread. Because, in the game of politics, we require our players to wear masks. Unlike in civilized sports where masks are meant to prevent disfiguration and maiming of the participants, the face-piece in politics is designed to alter communication and block true meaning. And in such design crouches the potential of disfiguring and maiming us, the electorate. And that’s what we fear.

For none of us can be sure of the true nature of the one who will move into the White House in January. Two hundred years of free election have taught us to peer suspiciously behind the masks.

It’s too late now — maybe centuries too late. I just wish that once, the candidates would take off their masks and talk to each other as individuals who really want to bring about good for all people. Not a debate, but a conversation.

But the two-headed, masked monster is one of our creation. And one that is destined to frighten us until the game is changed. Oops, there’s that word again.

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