I Just Can’t Look

Nate Silver's 538 blog

I’ve never been particularly squeamish.

I mean, I’m not a sadist or a psychopath. I don’t like watching people or animals in pain. I’m a Nurse Jackie, not a Dr. O’Hara. But I’ve never been grossed out by gore.

In fact, when it comes to movies and documentaries, I usually force myself to watch operations, battle scenes, and other bloody stuff. (Though admittedly, I haven’t dealt with Antichrist yet.)

So it’s a little weird that I find myself looking away from screens these days. I’m not avoiding scars or lacerations: I’m avoiding political discourse.

During the first presidential debate, I tried. I sat on the sofa scanning through Flipboard. Occasionally, I’d work up the nerve to glance at the TV, but five seconds later, I’d amp up the volume on my headphones and jump to some light and fluffy distraction like the Fug Girls. (Seriously, those ladies have saved my life more than once.)

Last night was the same. I was eager to get out of the house so I wouldn’t get sucked into the vice presidential debate — and as fate would have it, Jonno and I had two parties to hit. But when we stopped to grab a bite to eat, there it was on the TV, hovering over the bar.

How is it that I can watch amputation surgeries all day long but not a bloodless political debate? Simple: the stakes of the latter are just too high for me and for many people that I know. I have some skin in this game.

By right, I have every reason to be a-okay with Republican policies. I’m white, I’m well-educated, I’m a hard worker — a workaholic, even. Apart from the fact that I’m neither straight nor religious, I’m pretty much the GOP target market.

And yet, I choose to be a Democrat. I believe that government has few obligations besides keeping its people healthy, educated, and safe. I’m not willing to let government shirk those responsibilities and put them in the hands of for-profit entities. Republicans want to eliminate social service programs, believing that individuals and corporations will pick up the slack. But studies have blown that theory out of the water: charitable giving actually rises and falls in direct correlation to the tax rate.

And that’s to say nothing of the GOP’s official stance on LGBT rights, reproductive freedom, healthcare, gun control, and other hot-button issues.

Mitt Romney has tried to moderate his own speech on abortion and healthcare. I have a hunch that he’s personally on the good side of these issues, but the knuckle-dragging GOP machine keeps hauling him back to the right.

We just lived through eight years of that crap. Do we really want to go through it again?

For now, I’m just going to put my head down and keep trying to breathe. Please text me when it’s over.

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