Another Great Depression?
By Michael M. Bates
It looks as though John McCain is respectfully campaigning himself into the footnotes of history. Polls with Barack Obama winning by double digits are an indicator. So are predictions of a Democratic landslide by longtime GOP operatives such as Ed Rollins. McCain backers stand up at rallies to voice their exasperation that he's not doing enough to win. Obama presents a clear, though hackneyed, message; McCain appears tentative and inconsistent.
Thus far, McCain fears that highlighting Obama's relationships with ACORN and Jeremiah Wright - matters that directly reflect on Obama's judgment - will lead to additional scathing attacks like the one from a black congressman comparing McCain to the segregationist Democrat George Wallace. So the Republican nominee, after reaching across the aisle to bail out Wall Street and people who made bad decisions, emphasizes how adroitly he reaches across the aisle. That's a real crowd pleaser among Republicans cautioning that Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the other hooligans are bent on imposing socialism. The candidate is starting to make the listless Bob Dole look driven.
One of the few bright spots in a lackluster run for the White House was McCain's selection of Gov. Sarah Palin. Democrats and their media handmaidens despise her, which in itself makes her most attractive. What she brings to the ticket is a commonsensical, principled, conservative approach to governance. I like Sarah and trust she would instinctively do the right thing. She'll bring out the base of the party, and maybe even a few independents and Democrats seeking an authentic change rather than a continuance of the status quo.
I watched Gov. Palin speaking to a rally the other day on TV. Seeing the crowd's enthusiasm for her triggered something. My mind drifted into what it would be like if a miracle happened and the GOP actually won. Enduring McCain would be bad enough, but a Vice President Sarah would be more, much more, than the opposition could bear.
This year's presidential election is provoking more intensity than the last one. And do you remember what happened in the aftermath of the 2004 vote? A depression, that's what.
News reports from across the nation detailed its impact. Depressed Democrats sought to alleviate their grief over John Kerry's loss by seeking professional treatment. A Washington therapist who claimed she was flooded with calls for help immediately after the election stated that "people are in absolute post-traumatic stress and total despair and pretty much believe American society is permanently destroyed."
A past president of the American Psychological Association said he'd never seen anything like it. Experienced in counseling distressed folks, he noted the Democrats were different because they had "a divisiveness that only spirals downwards."
According to one California therapist, the disappointed Democrats were "processing real grief. Tears, anger, fear and situational depression have all been exhibited."
A Duke University professor hosted a support group for other disillusioned Kerry voters. She thought ten people might attend. Fifty showed up.
A woman from Oregon removed her Kerry bumper sticker right after Election Day because it was too upsetting just to see it. She found that, "On a personal level, I can't afford to walk around with this level of anger."
Anger was certainly a symptom shared by frustrated Democratic voters. As were feelings of withdrawal and isolation, bitterness, nightmares and loss of appetite. A Florida mental health provider with dozens of patients seeking assistance for the disorder came up with a name: post-election selection trauma, or PEST.
In Manhattan, a psychoanalyst found "my patients were incredulous, depressed, angry, very frightened." The Capital Times reported on the angst experienced by sufferers in the People's Republic of Madison, Wisconsin:
"Many local longtime therapists say they've never seen anything like it and are surprised at the level of dismay they've heard coming from their couches in the last week or so.
‘Patients who I've had for a long time have come in absolutely devastated over the fact that the election went the way it did. They were just terribly distraught and continue to be terribly distraught,' said (a) clinical social worker."
One psychologist contacted by the newspaper admitted he'd seen patients, including friends, going through the post-election torment. "I'm too depressed myself to speak about it," he lamented.
OK, so it's unlikely the Republicans will win. But it's sheer glee to picture what would happen if Sarah were sworn in as vice president. All those fragile psyches exposed to the terrors of Palin Derangement Syndrome. There'd be a great depression that no number of government bailouts could thwart. C'mon, McCain, get serious.
This Mike Bates column appeared in the October 16, 2008 Reporter Newspapers.