Ah, Christmas Day.
I've been looking forward to it more than ever this year because for one day, at least, it should be a Donald Trump-free day. Everyone will be too busy exchanging presents, enjoying grandkids, eating their family's traditional foods and, yes, sharing a little libation in commemoration of this joyous holiday to even think of the unpleasant person who is soon to be our president.
It's hard to remember any day in this soon-to-be-over political year of 2016 that Donald Trump hasn't entered the conversation. Someone described our fascination with this man as something akin to watching a house fire.
Early on it was all about how he was an absolutely dreadful candidate, as we watched nonstop media coverage of his railings against Mexican immigrants, Syrian refugees and Muslims, his mocking of the handicapped and a prisoner of war, and his marginalizing of women. Over the summer, things took a bizarre turn as a splintered Republican Party chose Trump to be its nominee, followed by the fall, when the daily conversation turned to, "How could Americans have allowed this to happen?"
Right now this doesn't seem like the America I remember from my younger days. My family didn't vote Republican, to be sure. FDR was my grandpa's hero, Herbert Hoover the villain. No matter what, though, we could be proud of Dwight Eisenhower and tolerant of Ronald Reagan. Dick Nixon was a different story, but in public, at least, he didn't go around joking about grabbing women's private parts, demonizing a religion and threatening to do unconstitutional things like torturing enemies and rewriting the First Amendment.
Personally, I never envisioned Americans and Wisconsinites, especially, voting for a candidate so obnoxious, so overtly racist, so contemptuous of the Constitution of the United States. Yet, I should have known we were in a different time when I saw a candidate for office this fall demonized for having the audacity to have graduated from Harvard. There used to be a time when we'd be proud of a local kid who went on to excel and graduate from college, especially a college as prestigious as Harvard.
Now, though, bad-mouthing the "elite" has become a handy campaign tool. It's exactly what Dodgeville Republican state Rep. Todd Novak used in claiming that his opponent last fall, school teacher Jeff Wright, was "not like us" because he went to Harvard. Better, I guess, not to have gone to school at all. And Novak managed to pull off a win.
Despite it all, though, we'll get through this. When Wisconsin voters decided to send a charlatan like Joe McCarthy to the U.S. Senate back in 1946, it was an embarrassment, but the state's voters came back with a Bill Promire and a Gaylord Nelson. Americans, I'm convinced, still have enough faith in the values we celebrate at Christmas time — respect for one another, helping the needy among us, striving for peace on earth — that a different time is ahead.
In the meantime, let's take a break today and celebrate what really matters.
Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @DaveZweifel
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