Atrios on the pain of covering “wankers”:

. . . The ESCHATON DECADE has been a pretty fucked up decade, a time when this country stopped even bothering to pretend to live up to many of its supposed ideals. We go to war and kill lots of people for no good reason, elites have eliminated any accountability for themselves for criminal wrongdoing, we’ve tortured and assassinated people, and the response to massive economic suffering and related criminal fraud has been to give lots of free money to the people who caused it all.

And one premise of his blog is that all of this shit happens, in part, because of the fucking wankers who rule our public discourse. Paying too much attention to it every day can be bad enough sometimes, but reliving it all again is actually a bit painful.

Amen.   He is hardly alone.

As FDL’s David Dayen wrote yesterday, we face seven months of what promises to be a thoroughly dreadful election season.  Many (likely a minority) of us believe neither of the two major parties nor their likely Presidential nominees offers the country even a realistic assessment of the challenges the nation faces, let alone workable solutions or a feasible political strategy for solving them.

That means that on most fronts — those not on some benign auto-pilot — things are likely to get worse for millions of people, their communities, and their environment.  The only certainty is that the election will not improve matters, no matter who wins.  I personally believe letting the crazies grow stronger could make matters inhumanely worse, but I don’t see a pathway for making them better, given the choices before us.

The American people may already have internalized this one-way ratcheting.  That may explain why, when matched against one of the most dishonest, disliked, and unworthy opponents the Republicans could have chosen, Mr. Obama has barely kept ahead of Mr. Romney in the polls.  Indeed, much of his current lead is driven not by Mr. Obama’s accomplishments or his still missing vision for the future, but by women who can recognize the threat the radical Republican right poses for their rights and interests.  Their fight is our fight, but they’re fighting just to stay even.

The bottom line is that the nation faces an election between two men whom Atrios might credibly choose as “wankers of the decade.”  And when the election is over, we will still have every problem we face now, some worse from the neglect and more difficult to solve from lost opportunity, with the election “winner”  having laid no foundation for solving any of them, let alone a mandate.

As a friend frequently reminds me, there are many challenges facing the country that are obscured by the usual right versus left framework.  There are problems whose solutions should, in theory, create unexpected coalitions that transcend or obliterate the conservative/liberal framework.  Confronting the crime wave in the banking/financial/monopoly sectors that are looting the 99%, eliminating corrupt tax shelters and inequities protected by elites, or demanding corporations internalize the harmful health/safety costs their exploitation imposes on everyone regardless of ideology . . . these are possible examples for a broader framing.

But no matter what the framing, it’s clear that the range of accepted political discourse in America is narrowly constrained by much of the media, by corrupt  elites of both parties, and by the narrowing insecurities of the two men now presenting themselves as the only choices.  Both men claim to be “evolving,” but there is little evidence their highly restricted views are improving, let alone adequate to the task.

So we’re left with a highly constrained discourse, while many of the plausible solutions lie outside that restricted range.  And you have to wonder, is this the best America can do?