As a counselor, I'm interested in how people feel. But, honestly, I'm more intrigued by how they think. As this election has gotten closer, I've spent too much time reading editorials, looking at message boards and discussion threads online, and listening to people talk--just paying attention to how they are thinking (not so much what, but how) about the issues and the candidates.
It's pretty clear that there are ideologues on both sides. Both sides can be black-and-white in their thought processes and wildly inconsistent in their reasoning. Both sides seem to be equally likely to call names, insult their opponents, and assume the worst. Both sides need to work on spelling and grammar. But, just from listening, I'd say that one side seems to have cornered the market on conspiracy theories and paranoid beliefs and that worries me.
When so many people seem to move beyond disagreeing on the issues and take up bizarre speculations, I don't know how we will come together behind a new leader. It's one thing to say, "I think Obama's wrong on _____" (and we all do disagree with something, I'd wager.) It's another thing to say, as a member of the state board of education did, that he will cooperate with America's enemies to instigate a major terrorist attack and then impose martial law to take over the country. It's one thing to question Obama's experience or policy. It's something else to assume that serving on a board with William Ayers (or even being a political acquaintance with him) makes him a Vietnam-era terrorist sympathizer. Also, which is it? Is he a middle-Eastern terrorist sympathizer or a domestic terrorist sympathizer? Is he a Muslim (as 25% of Texans believe) or is he a follower of a dangerous Christian preacher? Can ALL the conspiracy theories be true? I know people personally who genuinely and literally believe he is the antichrist.
I don't believe for a second that most Obama opponents oppose him for these reasons--most are rational people who have sincere disagreements with the Democratic party-- but enough do to make me despair that we can ever come together enough to work for America's future. Every four years, some Americans say, "I think this is the wrong choice but I accept him as my president." I don't think anyone will say, "I believe he is a Muslim terrorist who hates America but I will support him as my president." John McCain just implored us to offer the new president our "good will and our earnest efforts." I hope we find a way to do just that.