(The Nation) -- Like so many of us, I’ve spent the last 18 months enthralled by the dark carnival of our latest national election. From the start, I couldn’t tear my eyes from the spectacle of the Republican primaries. Never have I experienced such oceanic quantities of schadenfreude as I did watching the front men for modern conservatism stand slack-jawed while the leading candidate for their party’s nomination figuratively slapped George W. Bush across the face for starting the Iraq War and flushed 30 years of free-market trade policy down the toilet like schoolwork torn from the hands of teachers’ pets. From my own white, middle-class safety, I thrilled at Donald Trump finally bringing the Republican Party’s appeals to racial prejudice into the open, where they would be judged in all their ugliness. But at the end of each debate, I felt the nausea of the glutton and promised myself to consume less of the circus in the days ahead, only to return to the political blogs the next morning, hungry for fatuous commentary on who had “won,” knowing in my gut that all I or any of us were doing was losing whatever frayed threads of decency still held American political life together. Through the conventions, the summer meltdowns, and now the fall debates, my mind has been captive to each flicker in the polls.