MY BIGGEST POLITICAL PROBLEM THIS YEAR ISN'T DONALD TRUMP
IT'S HOW TO EXPLAIN OUR 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION SEASON TO A NON-AMERICAN
Unless you’ve been in a coma for the past year, you know that right from the get-go this year’s election “cycle” (like your “Chop” cycle on a blender) has been just a tad bit “different” (as in Jesus fucking Christ, what the hell is going on? “different”) from pretty much any election we can remember. At least since World War II. (There was that 1850’s pre Civil War election where the Know Nothing Party fielded candidates which does bear similarities to 2016.) It’s been difficult (Ever tried rounding up 13 two month old kittens? I have.) to say the least. I mean there have been times while viewing the election “news” on television I’ve had to say things like “What the fuck just happened?” or “Did he actually say that shit?” or I employ my all around go-to rejoinder: “Okay, I just can’t take any more of this batshit crazy pile of monkey dung.”
Attempting to understand what’s going on is kind of like trying to decipher one of those IKEA “Assembly Instruction Sheets” (apparently written by the same guy in the Malaysian jungle who glues the boxes together more or less permanently) to assemble your six drawer chest from 68 separate pieces of laminated particle board with 4,256 screws, fittings, spacers, nails and mystery hardware that came with it. Yeah. Pretty much. Normally I’m a patient guy, not prone to fits of volcanic rage or bursting into flying fistfights at the drop of an unkind word or two, but this election (file under: “Reality Show Failure”) is taxing my brain. And my patience. Now this taxing result could be from the on-again, off-again switch in my brain that was activated when I passed Middle Age and seems to flip on and off at the most inopportune moments like when I went to my next door neighbor’s last week, rang the doorbell, and stood in front of her without a clue about why I was there. (It was about a FedEx delivery.)
But that’s neither here nor there. There are advantages to passing the half-century mark. Wait. Wait. Ummm, well, one at least. And this is how much easier it is to figure out which of life’s “things” are important and which are not. Answering the phone or responding to text messages within 60 seconds fall into the “Not So Very Important” category while doing my Lumosity brain tests five times a week is more like in the “Yeah, I Need To Do This” category. I find this new ability quite handy in keeping my brain free of extraneous memories, emotions and long To Do lists that I will never complete. Analyzing the 2016 Presidential Election wouldn’t take top spot on my “Yeah, I Need To Do This” list save for one factor: my partner.
You see my Indian dude partner has never witnessed a U.S. Presidential election while I have been privy to probably half a dozen such elections in India. The processes are pretty much similar – eager politicians running around the country promising to make everything better if you elect him or her – with the possible exception that Indian candidates for public office don’t get to lie quite so frequently and boldly as do their American counterparts. You see, Indian states have pretty strong laws about such behavior and have campaign monitors to enforce the law. (Sure, we have the FEC but if we didn’t would there be any difference? No, there would not be.) Candidates for public office in India are often fined for not obeying election laws. India also practices “rolling elections” where groups of states hold elections at different time so that the entire country is not engulfed in chaos all at the same time. India also has limits (one of the more sensible actions of the Indian Government) on the length of time for campaigns rather than here where it seems like campaigns just go on forever.
So there’s all that. But generally American and Indian politicians in their quests for elected office do seem like peas from the same pod with minor variations since, presumably, while all peas pretty much look alike from the outside, I’m betting that under an electron microscope they are all unique. Like snowflakes, maybe.
Now, given that I have a hard time fathoming what the hell is going on this election year and I have someone who is not as familiar with our long, drawn out, grossly expensive election processes as I am, he often needs just a bit of explanation to understand this year’s Presidential Election. He often looks to me to explain what candidate “A” just said that sounded like so much Haitian voodoo incantation around a blazing fire out in the forest at midnight on a stormy Sunday. Yeah. So you can see my problem already. When Candidates “C” and “G” and “H” are suddenly referring to penis sizes, my partner is expecting me to explain just what relevance this discourse has to the run-up to the Presidential election. (Note: I could not.) He’s stopped asking me about all of Hillary Clinton’s crimes and why she isn’t it jail. I have taken the time to explain what this bullshit is all about and while he thinks Hill’s “cackle laugh” is indeed funny, he believes me, believes that she really didn’t orchestrate the murder of Vince Foster nor did she fund the Benghazi terrorists via the Clinton Foundation. But then there’s the “What did candidate “E” mean that the Mexican government is sending rapists and murderers over the U.S. border? Is this true?” he asks in all sincerity. “No, I reply. It’s not true. Just something he made up.” “But,” my naïve, neophyte to American politics partner asks, “How can he say that then?” To which question, my mind goes completely blank as if I have stepped into the Twilight Zone where reality is not what you see or what you think but some parallel universe where there is no up, no down, no left, no right.
Coming as he does from on-again, off-again, more Socialist than Capitalist India with its 1 billion+ Asian type folks, he was a big Bernie Sanders fan. He couldn’t imagine why anyone with a functioning brain wouldn’t vote for him. This required a brief but informative foray into the last thirty years of conservative rule by both American political parties. I explained to him that Bernie’s innocuous term, “Democratic Socialism,” would have been translated into “Commie Loving, Stalin Following, Anti-American Treasonous Traitor” had Bernie been the Democratic candidate. He got it. So all in all it’s been quite a challenge attempting to explain all the bloody craziness that surrounds our current “process towards electing the next President of the United States.” Now, had he been here four years ago, the Obama/Romney mashup would have been a snap to explain in comparison.
This one? God alone knows.
But I do try and will keep up the good efforts. But more often than not, as answer to a question of his, I mumble something unintelligible under my breath and desperately hope that he won’t ask what I just said since my dumbfoundedness at penis discussions during Presidential debates is as weird and wacked to me as it is to him. But there are a few issues I can explain to him like why the terrorist attacks on our temporary Chancery in Benghazi four years ago are still featured as “Breaking News” along with the Clinton murder of Vince Foster. To nearly all of what passes for political “campaigning” here this year, I can either offer lame, marginally rational, reasons and explanations or I can use my mumbling, old man, mentally sketchy, “I’ve lost it” dodge to satisfy him. But there one area that cuts to the bone:
“So I don’t get it,” he says. “Candidate “E” is saying that if he doesn’t win the election then the election is rigged. How can he know this? Why does he say this? Are your elections rigged?” At which point I take his head in my hands, plant a huge kiss on his lips and say “How about we go out for pizza tonight?”
Have A Wonderfully Non-Partisan Day!