The parties learn 7 things about themselves and each other

From left, Laura Bush, George W. Bush, Michelle Obama and President Obama arrive for the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture last month in Washington. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

The 2016 campaign, to put it mildly, has been an eye-opening experience for many voters. Let’s look at just seven things:

1. We are finally having that conversation about race. James Kirchick writes:

A candidate entirely lacking in empathy has forced millions of Americans to empathize with others — count it as one of the many ironies of 2016.

2. Republicans are forced to do some soul-searching. For years, Republicans reflexively rebutted liberals’ claims that there is a nasty and significant strand of racism and misogyny on the right. Some still deny that the embrace of birtherism is racist. For millions of Republicans, however, this has been a life-changing political experience, awakening them to elements on the right that cannot be ignored — or tolerated.

3. Republicans understand how much of the right-wing media is total bunk. From the conspiracy theories to the xenophobia to the lack of intellectual honesty, much of what conservative media obsess over — not just the Breitbarts or the Laura Ingrahams — is false and destructive. There must be an alternative to Fox News — and a renewed appreciation for solid mainstream media journalists (e.g. Jake Tapper, David A. Fahrenthold, Maggie Haberman, John Dickerson).

4. Democrats realize that not all Republicans are nuts. In her attempt to woo Republicans, Clinton has explicitly recognized that there are conscientious, common-sense Republicans who are devoted to their country. Too often the left paints Republicans with a broad brush, indicting everyone with an “R” or who self-identifies as conservative. Crediting the other side with decency and good intentions is essential for a functioning democracy.

5. The frauds are in plain sight. We have seen a parade of  intellectually corrupted supply-siders, previously respected pundits turned Donald Trump/Vladimir Putin apologists, evangelical charlatans, phony conservative feminists, out-and-out lunatics and talk-show demagogues. The people the right chose to elevate in many instances have been utterly unworthy of respect. Whether they lose their following remains to be seen; but they’ve lost their patina of integrity. Some, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Sean Hannity, are now laughingstocks.

6. Democrats have had to come to terms with the Clintons. The right has fought a lonely battle for decades over the Clintons’ endemic corruption. At least now Democrats have a full appreciation for the complaint that the Clintons too often think rules are for “the little people.” Perhaps bipartisan scrutiny will curtail their worst instincts going forward.

7. George W. Bush was/is a very decent guy. The left vilified him; the right scorned him. With eight years distance, however, both Democrats and Republicans can appreciate a Republican who got more than 40 percent of the Hispanic vote, was dedicated to education, saved millions in Africa from AIDS, refused to tolerate Islamophobia and has shown devotion in and out of office to those who fought for our country.

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