The excitement/disappointment cycle of the past two elections has taken a toll on many Democrats. Some have undergone a kind of progressive self-numbing. Their brains could register only so much outrage before they became desensitized and began to rewire themselves to adapt. Oliver Stone’s bizarrely inert new movie “W” exhibits just that kind of circuits-overloaded mental compromise.Like Nathan, I have damped my own emotions and don’t experience any of the euphoria that might otherwise accompany the highly probable prospect of a Democratic victory on November 4. I’m too shy of potential euphoria’s being dashed yet again, defensively steeling myself for the long-shot possibility of needing to practice another four years of adaptive stoicism.
Philip Roth, on the other hand [emphasis mine], in last year’s novel Exit Ghost, painted a brilliant portrait of the fallout of too much political heartbreak. Roth’s alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, a near shut-in, decides, post Bush v. Gore, (an election he describes as “perfectly calculated to quash the last shameful vestige of a law-abiding citizen’s naiveté”) to cut himself off from all awareness of politics, precisely in order to shut out any future glimmers of hope.
“Having lived enthralled by America for nearly three-quarters of a century,” Zuckerman says, “I had decided no longer to be overtaken every four years by the emotions of a child – the emotions of a child and the pain of an adult.”
But a friend of Warner’s advises her:
“You may as well enjoy the anticipation,” she said, “Because it may be all that you’ll get.”Warner accepts this advice and recommends it for us:
...whatever happens, those of us who are tired of experiencing the “despising without remission” that Zuckerman was moved to flee in the Bush years are entitled now to a tiny moment of elation.I’m not sure my heart is up to it. It’s so scarred from these years of political desecration, I don’t think I’ll feel all that euphoric even if Obama and Biden win by a landslide. Domestic and international prospects are daunting. We’re not going to see dramatically better days for a very long while yet. Anything but stoicism seems naive.
And we’d better grab it.