This, right now, is the part in the horror movie where I typically walk away. Not because I forgot to turn off the oven or have anywhere better to be, but because I’m so scared I pissed myself. And that’s where I’m at with the presidential election. You see, I’m not rich. I don’t have a back-up plan. I don’t have a house on every continent. And after an unfortunate incident in Thailand, the government revoked my passport, deeming me “unfit for international travel.”
I don’t have millions of dollars stashed away in bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. (That’s a reference to presidential contender Mitt Romney, in case you were wondering, and it’s not a slam. I’m sure he stashes his money there so it can recline on Caribbean beaches and get slathered in coconut oil by Caribbean cabana boys. It has nothing to do with the fact that the Cayman Islands are a well-known tax haven for rich Americans who don’t want to pay their taxes.) So basically I’m stuck with the outcome, whatever it is. And after the shenanigans, antics, and absurdity I witnessed the weekend before Halloween, I don’t hold out much hope that my fellow Americans are capable of making any kind of weighty decision.
On Friday, I saw a slutty bunny mating with what I can only assume was a drunk banana. Publicly. Saturday I met a Snow White who had apparently imbibed a few too many hits of acid in lieu of a poisoned apple. A girl in a Hooters shirt wandered by, and I wasn’t sure whether she’d just gotten off work or just had a really limited imagination.
It scares some people that America’s youth doesn’t vote. It scares me more that America’s youth—and, well, all Americans—are allowed to vote. Think about it: You have to pass a test before you can drive a car, but there’s no IQ requirements for selecting the next middle-aged man who will run this great country of ours. That means the girl in the Hooters shirt will probably cancel out my vote. Yay, democracy!
And yes, I did say “man” rather than the gender-nonspecific “person” or “human.” Because, after 44 male presidents, we might as well acknowledge that the highest office our country has to offer is a bigger sausage fest than the Hickory Farms gift basket you get for people you don’t know or like all that well on Christmas. At least I didn’t have to specify “white man,” so score one point for equality there—despite the fact that the presence of a black man in the White House still seems to rile an awful lot of people.
So maybe we should start by acknowledging that the office itself is still pretty problematic, that our collective voting history is riddled with racism and sexism, and that our tendency to vote for the guy we’d most like to grab a beer with probably isn’t doing us any favors long-term. Maybe that’s just what happens when a nation of people who shop at Costco—because it’s just not worth going grocery shopping unless you’re walking away with at least 20 pounds of red meat—select a leader. Maybe we elect the presidents we deserve. Maybe a country of people who bitch at the checkout counter because they can’t be bothered to invest $1 in a reusable grocery bag aren’t equipped to make a decision of that magnitude. The mere existence of undecided voters a few days before the election is a pretty solid indication that American voters accord selecting the next president the same significance as ordering a cup of coffee at Starbucks: They stand in line for a millennium and then make a split-second decision when the barista asks what they want.
My only emotional balm is the hope that when this is all over and we’ve exercised the privilege accorded to us once every four years, we can lay down our weapons and go back to being broke and voiceless together. We can forego political rants and return to posting photos of our dinner on Facebook. And in a couple of months, when your shower drain clogs or someone on the other side of the world does or says something you don’t like, you can blame whichever privileged (though possibly not white) male becomes our 45th president. And you can pretend that you knew better, that you deserved better.
But you don’t.
Because however much we pretend to hate the process, we elect the candidate we deserve using the system we’ve bought into. And we do this year after year because the alternative requires that we turn off the TV and put down the McHappyBurger. Which sounds great, but So You Think You Can American Singing Idol Dance Stars is on tonight. ∆
Shredder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.