I always seem to feel this way just before an election, as if the forces tearing the country apart are tearing me apart. Call it (small-d) democratic participation mystique*.

If the Democrats really do retake control of Congress in two weeks (WaPo is saying it looks increasingly possible for the Senate as well as the House):

  • Part of me will be feeling Schadenfreude because the Republicans have really, really asked for it with their winning combination of arrogance and incompetence. According to the laws of behavioral psychology, if you want your dog to learn anything, such behavior should not be rewarded with the treat the pup loves best: power.
  • Part of me will be feeling nausea and dread at the Democrats’ glee — because if they win, it’s not them winning, it’s just the Republicans losing. But instead of infusing them with sober responsibility for cleaning up the mess they’ve inherited, I fear a win will make them drunk with an arrogance of their own, and that they will go on a rampage of revenge and blame at a moment of grave national danger.
  • And part of me will be feeling a neutral, Olympian bemusement at the whole tragicomic spectacle.

*participation mystique:

A term derived from anthropology and the study of primitive psychology, denoting a mystical connection, or identity, between subject and object.

[Participation mystique] consists in the fact that the subject cannot clearly distinguish himself from the object but is bound to it by a direct relationship which amounts to partial identity. [“Definitions,” Collected Works of C.G. Jung]

Politics AmbivAgain