God Don't Like Ugly

It's not just the campaign that's getting nasty. It's you…okay, and me, too.

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I can't wait for Nov. 4.

It's not just because I'll finally be casting a ballot in my first presidential election (though, don't get me wrong, I'm pretty friggin' stoked about it). But really, I'm in tip-toe anticipation of that first Tuesday in November, because I'm hoping, hoping hard, that on Election Day, all the ugliness we've seen this past year and a half will finally begin to fade.

Who's being ugly? Everybody. The presidential campaigns, of course. Then there are the pundits. I suppose that's no surprise. The group I'm most worried about is the regular people around me.

My black male friend poking fun at Hillary Clinton. My older black relatives already conceding defeat on Barack Obama's behalf. My white feminist associates remaining uncomfortably quiet while racist and sexist remarks are hurled at Michelle Obama. My best female friend calling Sarah Palin a "bitch." Even me, likening John McCain's oft-repeated POW story to Chris Rock's rift on 50 Cent—"He got shot nine times!"

This campaign is bringing the ugly out of everybody. Me and you … your mama and your cousin, too.

Politics is always nasty. But perhaps the group of choices this time—a black man, a white Vietnam veteran, a powerful liberal woman and an energizing conservative one—has amounted to too much change to accept with civility.

Perhaps change is like getting a facial; the deep cleaning brings all the hidden impurities to the surface. And then you have a big, hideous breakout.

The Obama waffles. The Palin doll. The Clinton nutcracker and an endless stream of jokes about McCain's age.

On the surface, these things can be funny. (And, okay, I'll be honest—I laughed at that John McCain site for days.) But these comments, these remarks, these "jokes" only underscore the fact that we all—emphasis on all—have misperceptions of people who don't quite look like us. And that all the fears, prejudices and pre-made judgments that we've kept inside for so long (or shared only in trusted company) are finally bubbling to the surface.

So what does this mean? Well, it means we really shouldn't complain about attacks on Michelle Obama if we freely take jabs at Cindy McCain. We can't assume respect for John McCain's war service if we're going to denigrate Obama's years on the ground in the South Side of Chicago. And we really shouldn't be letting folks get away with calling Palin out of her name, even if we can't stomach her positions on the issues. (Or that hairdo… okay, I'm sorry. I couldn't resist. I'm still growing.)