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November 01, 2004

ARE WE REALLY MORE DIVIDED THAN WE'VE EVER BEEN? I recently asked my mother whether this election was, as everyone I work with keeps assuring me, "the nastiest election ever." I live on the Upper West Side, three blocks from the house I grew up in, and honestly, this election feels to me very much the same as the elections of 1984, 1988 and 1992, when we also had Republican incumbents: the daily predictions of apocalypse should the incumbent be re-elected, the virulent and vicious hatred unleashed in logorrheic torrents every time his name was mentioned, the threats to leave the country if the Republican was returned to office .

But I was a schoolgirl then, and couldn't vote, and it's very possible that my memories are not representative, since most of my teachers ranged between the liberal democratic and the hard left. So I asked my mother, who remembers those days more clearly.

Mom agrees: everyone on the Upper West Side was just as mad then as they are now. I suspect the only reason the media can detect this unprecedented bitterness on the part of the electorate is that, living as they do in Democratic strongholds, the Clinton years lulled them into forgetting the rank hatred that prevailed during Republican administrations (and which, I presume, prevailed in Georgia and Alabama when Clinton was in office).

Jennifer Watson agrees:

To listen to the Democrats, you would think that George W. Bush is the first Republican candidate they've ever disliked and that this is the first time this nation has faced a close election.

Does anyone remember 1984? Do you recall how much the Democrats hated Ronald Reagan?

If you buy their version of the Reagan presidency, he invented homelessness, eliminated birth control for the poor and personally killed thousands in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras. He created AIDS and apartheid and single-handedly broke the back of organized labor. You think the liberals dislike Don Rumsfeld? Just ask them about James Watt!

Don't forget about Reagan's "assault on the poor." No, the left wing of American politics couldn't just disagree with Reagan's economic policies -- he was assaulting the poor.