Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

Until the past week or so, I’d been telling myself to just wait until the election is over, that come November 3rd we’ll return to polite discourse and regain our ability to agree to disagree. I’d told myself that this bitterness, this political polarization, would fade as we all prepared to move forward for the next four years. Now, I’m not so sure.

As Pogo once said: “I have met the enemy, and he is us.”

I was just a toddler when the Vietnam War officially ended. I don’t remember any of the political turmoil of the time. But everyone living in America since then has seen pictures of the protests, the rallies, the masked policemen standing over struggling, screaming student protestors with billy clubs in their hands. We know about the Kent State massacre, and the blood of those who were killed is permanently enscribed on our national conscious.

I was in second grade when Watergate hit the news. I don’t remember any of the political turmoil of that time, either. But everyone living in America since – indeed, most of the world – knows we had a President who lied, who misused his power and whose administration conspired with him in criminal activities. We’ve seen the footage of Nixon announcing his resignatin, of him walking up the steps of Air Force One for the last time. We know Ford pardoned him afterwards, and even if the nation-wide gasp of surprise has quieted, we know in this post-Clinton era what a shocking move that was.

I’m thirty-seven now, and what I’ve seen in this presidential campaign calls to mind those same images. But I have to wonder if it’s not a chicken-and-egg thing.

With so many people likening the war in Iraq to the Vietnam War, did we resurrect the unresolved emotions of that time? And are they now rallying to Kerry because he embodies the inner conflict that, at the time, had no real influence in Washington? Are the charges of corruption, deception and intransigency once associated with Nixon now being projected onto Bush because our collective memory insists that where there is a war abroad that people protest at home, there must also be a criminal in the White House behind it?

I don’t know the answers, although I’m confident there are those who’ll claim they do. I won’t believe them: like me, they’re the of the generation who once warned us not to trust anyone over the age of thirty.

But I know this: the one thing which makes this war different from Vietnam and this Presidency different from Nixon’s, it’s the grim fact that the war is not exclusively on foreign soil, that the war - the real war - started on 9/11 when the Twin Towers fell and the first 3,000+ casualties were ours. Come November 3rd, that’s not going to change, nor is the fact that we’re now a nation divided. And you know what history tells us that means.