I'M STARTING to think that Donald Trump is the president we deserve.
Seriously. We've spent a lot of time talking about how awful Trump is - no argument here. But can we take a moment to discuss how awful we are to one another?
And how Trump, that mean-spirited -ist machine (sexist, racist, misogynist), is really a reflection of us.
(Get a mirror, I'll wait.)
Trump is us. We are Trump, and that includes those who aren't voting for him.
Every day, there is one disturbing story after another about people being awful to one another - and I'm not just talking about Trump supporters' beating or berating protesters.
No one is clean in this dogfight.
Consider the violence from Bernie Sanders supporters a few days ago at the Nevada Democratic Convention, when several delegates were turned away because they were not registered as Democrats. Afterward, supporters apparently published the cellphone number of the state party chair, who then received death threats. Behold the national limbo dance of civil discourse. How low can we go? So, so, so low.
And that's even before we get to the fresh hell of any online comments section - from which, my colleague Ellen Gray aptly concluded recently, Trump's candidacy arose.
But there's also the daily diet of nastiness. Walk down the street and just watch how horribly we treat one another. While these are Philadelphia examples, we are living in a time of universal nastiness.
One day this week:
A guy on Market Street hurled so many f-bombs at a woman who accidentally bumped into him that she was momentarily stunned silent.
In West Philly, a woman leaned on her horn and mouthed obscenities at the driver in front of her for not moving fast enough after the light turned green, and then nearly ran over pedestrians when she sped around the too-slow car.
Men sexually harassing women who are sometimes young enough to be their daughters or granddaughters. I've taken to pointing that out, and I'll just let you imagine the kind of responses that gets me.
On days like that, I'm not as worried about one disgusting human being who might become president as I am a world full of disgusting human beings.
What is wrong with us?
We talk about Trump's base being a bunch of angry time bombs, but the truth is that many of us are tightly wound balls of anger we can't wait to hurl at someone.
This month, there was a story about researchers claiming that acetaminophen reduces our ability to feel empathy. Maybe that's it - maybe we all need to lay off the pain reliever?
Michael Lissack is the executive director of the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence, and an author who has written and spoken extensively about why Trump is inevitable. Lissack had a lot to say when we spoke about the society that birthed Trump.
The first time Trump went on some narcissistic, racist rant, the rest of the candidates should have walked off the stage, according to Lissack. The first time Trump refused to answer a question, the moderator should have reminded him that he was a candidate and if he wasn't willing to participate, he could go home.
Bottom line, someone needed to act like an adult.
But acting like an adult isn't what gets ratings or attention in our world. Just tune into any reality show. I mean, besides the presidential race.
"The nastiness tends to come when people feel their sense of entitlement has been violated," Lissack said. "The problem with that is that very few of us are entitled to have a sense of entitlement. We react nastily when our self-perceived self-entitlement is violated ... and if that doesn't explain all the comments that come out of Donald Trump's mouth, I don't know what does."
Trump is doing well because he has effectively tapped into our desire to blame, belittle and bully. Our desire to rage against (insert group here).
Openly attacking blacks and even gays is harder to get away with these days. But, no problem, make Mexicans and Muslims the bogeymen du jour.
Particularly in tough economic times (but really, maybe all the time), we have this need to stereotype and marginalize people who aren't like us, and Trump's success is built on the unspoken but none-too-subtle message that it's OK to hate again, it's OK to direct and act on your anger.
And what a sad reflection on the American people that the appeal of that message is so strong it could carry its messenger into the White House, and define our society.