Paul Greenberg

"Long before the appointed day arrives, the election becomes the greatest, and one might say the only, affair occupying men's minds. ... The President, for his part, is absorbed in the task of defending himself before the majority. ... As the election draws near, intrigues grow more active and agitation is more lively and widespread. The citizens divide up (and the) whole nation gets into a feverish state."

Sound familiar? How little things have changed, which is another tribute to the continuity of American history.

Even more remarkable is what happens after election fever breaks: Everything suddenly calms down, like a great river returning to its banks after a flood that has swept everything away. As if there had never been any Great Divide at all. And life flows on.

It'll be a great day, Wednesday, November 7, 2012. The flood will be over. The waters will begin to recede. Look for a dove to descend with an olive branch.

But while passions mount, so does zealotry. Only the perspective that time lends may cure it.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.