American Election: Finally

In less than 48 hours, the American election will be over – finally.  It seems like they’ve been campaigning in the US forever.  However, it hasn’t been that long, really.  In fact, with a few minor interruptions, they’ve only been going at it south of the 49th parallel since Washington’s Farewell Address in 1796.  That’s just a little over 200 years – nothing serious.

Actually, America is in permanent political mode because it is serious.  Like it or not, politics is what makes the world go round and when practiced properly, it is a wonder to behold.

As I’ve said before, democracy is one of the few things that puts purple in my prose.  I can’t help it.  I love being able to stand up before God and everybody and say what I think.  I like knowing that nobody — NOBODY — can shut me up without good and sufficient reason.  I like to wax eloquent on a Thursday afternoon on the perils of progressive thinking — simply because I can.  My political system – democracy – let’s me do that and more.  It makes me, just another skinny kid from the hood, a political wiseass as equal as everybody else in the halls of power.  My voice is not a hesitant whisper; it’s spoken-word arrogance.  I can, and do, say and write things, that half the world would be imprisoned for – probably without a trial – and I do it boldly.  My democracy allows me that luxury and just about every other luxury I enjoy.  Not only can I think as I please and speak as I please, but, within recognized social limits, I can do as I please, eat as I please, dress as I please and go wherever in hell I want to.  I can work, learn, teach, fart and fornicate in any manner I so choose; nobody’s going to cut off my hands or stone me to death because of it.  I can Google my leaders and, with one mighty click, find out who they are, what they are and whether they’re scoundrels or not.  No self-important party apparatchik can stop me.  But most importantly, I can incite my fellow citizens to join me at the ballot box and, in a single afternoon, calmly and quietly change the political landscape faster and more effectively than any revolution every could.  That, boys and girls, is the pure unadulterated power that every wannabe dictator or demagogue fears and respects.

Tomorrow the great tribes of America will gather together and demonstrate that power.  Despite what many Americans think, the USA is not the only democracy in the world, but, despite what many people outside the US choose to believe, it is the most effective.  American elections, constant as they are, fuel democracy.  They continually force public servants to account for their service; to stand before their employer, the American people, and explain themselves.  As Martha Stewart says, “That’s a good thing.”

Whatever happens tomorrow, it is the election itself that is a testament to the tenacity of democracy.  Of course, in a country so clearly divided as America is right now, the results (whatever they are) will bring out the worst in somebody’s sour grapes.  Ironic, isn’t it — that people would complain about the very thing that guarantees them the luxury of that complaint?  But that’s how democracy works; that is the beauty of it — the very essence.  It applies itself to everybody — whether they appreciate it or not.

Election 2012: How To … Not Lose

It`s an open secret that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans can win the 2012 American presidential election.  Both parties are such damaged goods that nobody beyond the diehards wants anything to do with either of them.  Unfortunately, they both can’t lose.  And remember what happened last time there was a tie?  They had to give Al Gore a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar just to get that world class whiner to shut up about it.  Meanwhile, the pundits are all stating the obvious and pronouncing that a small percentage of undecided voters in critical swing states and a Cleveland cab driver named Rajinder Gomez will wake up November 6th and hand somebody the keys to unlimited world power.  Not since the days of “Jerry” Ford — who became king of the world on the say-so of Michigan’s 5th district and Richard Nixon — have the needs of so many been pushed around by the whims of so few.   Alas!  If it ‘twere only that simple!  It isn’t.  Thus, with victory no longer an option, how can either party not lose an unwinnable election?  I thought you’d never ask.

I’ll start with the Republicans for no other reason than back in a more civilized time, I was one.  Call it old man nostalgia, but like David Frum, I live in hope of change.  For the GOP, the road to not getting kicked to the curb in November is basically a tricycle of awareness.

First of all, they have to figure out a way to get rid of George W. Bush.  The party handlers are doing a reasonably good job of channeling Ronny Reagan over top the Bushes (pere and fils) but Dubya’s still hanging around Romney’s neck like a Flavor Flav clock.  As an elder statesman, the guy’s an albatross, and, not to mix too many metaphors, he needs to be put out to stud or something.

Next, they have to start talking serious numbers — not that gabillion trillion crap that Ryan trots out every time he’s cornered, but real, everyday down-at-the-Piggly-Wiggly dollars and cents.  Everybody knows that even Congress doesn’t understand money after it gets to a billion.  Those numbers are just too big.  What local people want to hear is what’s in it for them.  The Republicans need to tell people just exactly how much extra folding money tax cuts will put on individual pay cheques.  And for those individuals who aren’t getting pay cheques these days, the GOP needs to specifically explain how there are going to be a lot more of those available in a Republican future.

Finally, the GOP needs to stay away from the cultural wars.  Let’s be honest: Republicans aren’t cool.  Every time they try to be, it just looks lame.  If this were high school, they’d be running the Science Fair and explaining the Latvian Gambit to the Chess Club.  The third wheel on the tricycle is — Don’t Go There – if you do, Jon Stewart, SNL and the girls on The View are going to beat your brains out.  The Republicans need to acknowledge they’re nerds — full stop — and hope that, in the end, everybody remembers to Vote for Pedro.

For the Democrats, keeping the Obamas at 1600 is a Yellow Brick Road of simplicity.  The powers that be need to gather everybody — from Barack on down — and say, “Shut up!  This isn’t rocket surgery or brain science, so don’t get confused.  We have one message — period.  Don’t deviate!  ‘All Republicans are crazy old white men who talk to chairs.’”  If the Dems do this and stay away from the economy, Obama’s drone wars, the leakiest White House since Richard Nixon and foreign policy, they can’t lose.  They need to round up the usual suspects — racism, sexism and homophobia — and play Pin The Tail On The Republican with them.  (Just as an aside, whereas racism and sexism are merely totally screwed-up attitudes homophobia is an actual illness.  Well played, Gay Rights!  Well played!)  This strategy has worked for the Democrats ever since Lyndon Johnson ambushed Barry Goldwater’s presidential ambitions in 1964 with a nuclear attack on that little girl’s daisy*.  Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to throw a few hater remarks around.  For example, Michael Moore (I don’t even have a simile for this guy) has already called the 2010 Republican Congressional victories a “tsunami of hate.”  Yes, I know.  It’s a pretty broad brush (even for Mikey) but labels stick, especially if they’re repeated often enough.  (Who said that?)  The Democrats need to hammer away at just how despicable the Republicans really are…all of them…in their souls…if they even have any.  If they do that, it’s guaranteed: four more years.

As I’ve said before, this is the weirdest election ever but somebody’s got to wi..wi..wi…not lose.

*For those of you who don’t remember 1964 you can see the TV ad here.

Election 2012: Who’s Who

On a scale of one to weird, this has got to be the strangest American election ever — and I’m including 1912, when Teddy Roosevelt decided to be a Bull Moose in a china shop and handed the White House to Woodrow Wilson.  With both National Conventions now over, it’s clear that neither party is all that happy with what they have to work with.  Of course, everybody’s saying the right things and putting on those confident smiles, but I’m pretty sure the backroom boys (they’re still mostly boys) are pulling some heavy all nighters.  Even the media is starting to whine.  The problem is nobody — from the principal candidates on down to the guy fetching the coffee — has a clue what’s going on.  Here’s where we stand, and with less than two months until the American people drop the hammer, it isn’t pretty.

Nobody even knows who the candidates are!

Oddly enough, instead of Obama/Biden versus Romney/Ryan the Democrats seem to have decided to run Barack and Clinton against Mitt Romney and George W. Bush.  FYI, that’s Bill Clinton.  Hillary gave the whole convention thing a miss.  She was on an important diplomatic mission to… where?  Rarotonga, actually.  (Find that on a map!)  The media did some heavy speculating that she had contracted 2016 flu, and they made sure everybody saw her in East Timor, a diplomatically hotter spot than the Cook Islands.  America’s First Couple may be Barack and Michelle, but like it or not, in 2012, the Clintons have some serious coattails.  Husband Bill would like nothing better than to be a bigger part of history on Pennsylvania Avenue, and the only way he can do that is if Obama gets re-elected and Hillary becomes the ranking Democrat — with four years to plan.  Meanwhile, the other democratic vice president, Joe Biden, has been locked in a soundproof chamber for the duration.  The Democrats don’t want him touching anything until sometime after November 7th.  It will be interesting to see who shows up to debate Dubya on October 11th, even though George 43 is actually that black cloud hanging over Romney’s head.

On the other side of the aisle, the Republicans are playing it safe.  They’re sending in The Gipper, Ronald Reagan to gang up on Jimmy Carter – again – and if Paul Ryan can get a few kicks in from the sidelines, so be it.  Their thinking is, “We’ve got to be here anyway, and Mitt is the closest thing to a moderate we can come up with.  Let’s try and convince the American people this is 1980, and we’ve got it made!”  The beauty of this strategy is, if Mitt can pull it out of the fire, yippee ki yay; if not, the Republicans have saved their big guns, Christie, Rubio and, yes, Paul Ryan for 2016 when the Obama magic will be safely back in Chicago — where it belongs.

The simple fact is the big boys (yes, they’re mostly boys, also) in both parties don’t want to fight an election with the guys they’ve got.  What are the Democrats going to say?  In the last four years, we haven’t been able to make a dent in perhaps the biggest crisis in economic history.  In fact, we’ve kinda made it worse.  However, if you let us have at it for another four years, we’ll fix it — using those same tried and true techniques that got us this far.

On the other hand, the Republicans have got some cojones just pointing fingers.  After all, they were in charge when this economic powder keg got lit up.  What are they going to say?  We made the mess.  You guys aren’t cleaning it up fast enough.  Give us another kick at the can.

Either way, both parties would be committing suicide if they didn’t have a few tricks up their sleeves — including switching candidates.

Wednesday: How to Win an Unwinnable Election.