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  • Did you ever go to a party filled with interesting, witty people and get buttonholed by an obnoxious, opinionated loudmouth from whom there was no escaping? Snatches of witty conversation tantalizingly tickle your ears, but they are continually drowned out by the windbag’s unceasing, soul-killing bombast. That is what passes now for political discourse in my country.

    We Americans talk past one another. We cannot turn on a TV or radio without being screamed at, browbeaten, hectored, demonized or spun – even as the art of personal conversation is fading fast. Most of us have less money than we used to, and we spend more of it on anti-depressants. We are having a national nervous breakdown.

    For the next six months we will subject ourselves to a ritual descent into madness called the election season. Untold millions will be spent and untold lies told. The Republican convention will be held in Tampa, Florida, a pretty nice place. The state’s governor has ruled that it’s OK to ban water balloons from the protest zone, but to prohibit firearms would be a violation of a sacred trust. This may not play out well.

    I don’t want this to be a hopeless screed. I still have equal faith in the resiliency of the human spirit and the tendency of bullies to overreach. Unlike my hero Orwell, I don’t see our inescapable future as a boot forever stomping on a person's face.

    If you’re an American reading this in 2012, none of the above will come as a surprise to you. But if you’re reading this in 2112, you’ll have little idea what I’m talking about because you had to get better in order to survive. Bless your bewilderment. By all the powers that be, bless it.
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