The election that cannot be discussed

If you discuss Trump at the water cooler, watch out

(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

If you suffer from a compulsion to talk politics with friends, family, and co-workers during the next six months, resist it. The primaries already have fractured the two political parties into feuding factions, and now the presidential race will be a death match between two of the most disliked, divisive figures in recent U.S. history. If you dare discuss Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton around the water cooler or at the family picnic, the ensuing argument will likely end in yelling and personal insults. You might even get punched. The passions this campaign will incite will be deep and vehement, and people will not forgive those who collaborated with the enemy. "It is impossible to live at peace," the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said, "with those we regard as damned."

Gender, sexism, racism, class, marital infidelity, character — all of these incendiary issues will be front and center in the coming campaign. No code words will be needed. A woman whom many view as the embodiment of feminism will take on a man whose concept of masculinity predates the existence of feminism. In the coming months, Clinton and Democratic super PACs will weave The Donald's 30-year litany of intemperate words into a few hundred million dollars' worth of attack ads. Trump, whose credo is to hit back twice as hard, will not be constrained by any norm or scruple. During the primaries, let's not forget, he likened Ben Carson to a pedophile, called Heidi Cruz ugly, trafficked in internet rumors and National Enquirer stories, and even tried to tie Ted Cruz to the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The Main Event is upon us, and it will be like nothing we've seen in our lifetimes. Read about it, watch it on TV, but I warn you: Speak not of it to people who disagree — or you may never speak to them again.

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