On a secondary road I travel frequently live two people who either get along well or not at all, I suppose. One flies a large Trump flag from his flagpole. The other, who lives within sight of the first, has a Bernie sign on his carport and another in his yard.

Politics has made people so binary these past few years that it’s hard to imagine people who are immersed in politics who can be anything more than civil with people on the other side.

People are such sore losers these days. You just don’t lose an election anymore. A loss means the Nazis or the Communists or the sharia law people are lurking around the next corner to destroy the American way of life. Our democracy is in danger. The republic faces an existential crisis.

(By the way, please don’t use the word “existential” around me. Everything today is an existential crisis. If we didn’t have a new existential crisis every week, we’d have to make one up. We have so many existential crises going on, I don’t know which one is the existentialist).

You would think that this being an election year, things will get worse. After what came out of Washington, D.C., last year, though, how can it?

This year, television and radio stations will meet their revenue goals thanks to negative campaign commercials. Political signs will bloom like weeds. News media will be filled with story after story after story about all the elections.

Come to think of it, now every year is an election year. We keep re-fighting the previous election until the next one comes along.

How did things get to be this way? My guess is that it goes back to at least 1992. That was the year then-President George H.W. Bush was defeated in his re-election bid by Bill Clinton. Republicans couldn’t let go of the election result. What was worse was the fact that, in Republicans’ eyes, Clinton’s wife suffered from an unjustified superiority complex bolstered by a total lack of ethics.

Before Clinton, the nation’s electorate had suffered through divisions, but Republicans despised Clinton so much they impeached him even though they knew the Senate would never vote to convict.

Last year, Democratic members of Congress decided to bring back 1999, only this time it’s dragging on and on.

Politics is like those Ohio State fans who know they would have won that game if the officials hadn’t rigged everything against them. They won’t let it go because they can’t. They were deprived of the victory what was rightfully theirs.

Lavrentiy Beria, who ran the Soviet secret police under Josef Stalin, is remembered for saying, “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.” That seems to be the method of operation for politics nowadays.

You don’t lose to someone who ran a better campaign. Your opponent had to steal the election. There’s no other explanation.

From Clinton vs. Bush in 1992 to Trump vs. whoever in 2020, the cycle continues to feed on itself. Time is cyclical. What has happened before will happen again.

If President Donald Trump wins re-election this year, the 2024 election could be when the cycle ends, or it could be when it intensifies. It would depend on the size of his victory.

If Trump loses, we can expect the cycle to continue until it reaches a point of instability as the system will not have enough energy to go from one extreme to another. After that, it’s anyone’s guess.

Jim Ross is Opinion Page editor of The Herald-Dispatch. He can be contacted at jross@hdmediallc.com. He is on Twitter @JimRoss9

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