Last night I watched the entirety of the first Presidential debate. I made it through all 90-minutes, which is a feat I still don’t know how to label—Existential despair? Civic engagement? Hopeful rubbernecking? I came out of it feeling like I do anytime I watch an Adam Sandler movie—I shake my head and admonish myself for wasted time I’ll never get back.
I believe I speak for most of us, regardless our political positions, when I say that I’m over this shit.
The debate got me thinking more about what’s on everyone’s minds these days—What the hell went wrong with Brad and Angie?? Oh, and that whole thing about the next President, the person who’ll make decisions about Supreme Court nominations and military engagements, propose legislation about healthcare, police reform, and immigration, have access to nuclear codes, and be the face our country present to the rest of the world… for the next four years.
As I watched the debates my mind, having plenty of incentive and time to wander, returned to the caucus earlier this year. We do this in Washington State instead of primary voting. It’s an interesting process—you get into a room with your neighbors, discuss and debate the pros and cons of various candidates, and eventually form into groups that are then proportionally awarded in support of the candidates. I recall one woman’s defense of her position for Hillary, which went like this: Bernie may be the candidate for the system we’d like to have, but Hillary is the candidate for the system we do have. She delivered it with about as much zeal as the statement could support, which was comparable to Ben Stein explaining economics in Ferris Bueller’s. However, for anyone seeking a solid working definition of realpolitik, that’s about as good a one as you’re going to find.
I thought then, and think still, that this was a bunch of bullshit. The most significant problem I see is that this thinking effectively precludes pursuing change. It accepts the status quo and avoids challenging or critically evaluating systems. To illustrate this differently—back up to 2004, apply the same statement to W, and… well, we know how that turned out.
But here we are now: after what feels like an eternity, only 41 days remain until the election. The past six months I’ve been all around this country and I honestly haven’t met a single soul who’s genuinely excited about either candidate as an agent of constructive growth and progress for our country, though plenty of us seem motivated to vote for Her because she’s not Him, or vice-versa.
Further, and this is worth a quick pause, I simply cannot comprehend news reports that a sizable percentage of our country is still weighing their options. Who the hell needs more time and information to make this choice?? I can’t help but wonder the following: If, after being tossed in the waves of this sea of diarrhea for more than a year you still require more time to make up your mind, should you even get a vote??
The choice (I’m using that term precariously) sadly appears to have come down to this: either you go with the Adequate or the Insane. It seems fair to say that the Adequate, for all her flaws, will probably do just fine in the job, while the Insane, whose flaws are infinitely greater (more huge, like his fingers…), will likely chart our country on an unpredictable course to fuck-all (if things go well).1
Last night during the debate I also got to thinking about the indie rock band, We Were Promised Jetpacks, whose name perfectly captures a playful but very reasonable criticism of modern technologies. That same stunned and disappointed perspective can be applied to this election with great simplicity, summed up in one simple and despairing plea—Seriously??
I live in Washington State, which typically votes solidly Democratic. This fact has made me consider using my vote as a protest vote. But frankly, and unfortunately, the other options seem flimsy at best—the math on too much of the Green Party’s platform simply doesn’t add up, and I find Gary Johnson a buffoon and Libertarianism morally bankrupt. Plus, there’s always the fear that if everyone enters a protest vote, Insane might win after all.
So, and to my chagrin, I find myself become that woman at the caucus whose position I thought—and still think—is bullshit. I’m not excited about it, but to my mind the Adequate is the preferable candidate for the system we have.
Now, if that makes me feel crappy—and it certainly does—oh well. It’s not the first time I’ve felt that way about politics and it certainly won’t be the last. Besides, the point of this election isn’t to fart rainbows out my ass while I fill in my vote. Math was never my strong suit, and readers are certainly invited to double check my numbers, but I’m 112% certain that voting for the Adequate feels 2,142% less shitty than contemplating a Presidency by the Insane.
- I have read essays and comments from people arguing that there is no such thing as the lesser of two evils. I’d like to think that this election demonstrates the absurdity of that proposition. [↩]