The Caucus Race
First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (‘the exact shape doesn’t matter,’ it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no ‘One, two, three, and away,’ but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over.
– Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
*Note – this was originally published in 2011 back when my audience consisted of three people or so, one of them me. I decided to resurrect and update it some in honor of our upcoming
doom election. Hope you enjoy it!
There is a cold, soul-stealing chill in the air. Leaves die and fall from the trees, as the world prepares for the killing frost. What could this be a sign of? That’s right – it’s the political season! Haha, I’m only kidding. Politics does not have a season, for yea, it is eternal. As soon as a president is elected, the opposing party mounts a campaign for the next election while the newly elected president tries to keep himself popular enough for reelection, unless he is the incumbent, in which case he just tries not to do anything too embarrassing for his party. You know, like randomly declaring war or messing around with interns or selling illegal weapons or just generally acting like an asshole.
Obviously, many presidents fail at this. The only president most people have any respect for is Abraham Lincoln, and that’s because we don’t remember much about him except that he freed the slaves and all, which was swell of him to do, what with us having been a “free” country for a hundred years. So Abe was cool. Also George Washington because he was first. We like them so much we have a federal holiday for them (and a three day weekend if we’re lucky). But they are the exception. Gone are the days when our leaders were idolized figures. We’ve been cynical about politics for a long time, but with the economy in the toilet, people are getting downright psychotic.
In Wonderland, there is a caucus race, in which several strange creatures run round and round again in a race with no clear beginning or end. So politics have not changed since Carroll’s time, nor really since the beginning of time. The only people that would subject themselves to being President are clearly mad, so our pool of candidates has created what is known as voter apathy. As in, Americans vote more for their favorite American Idol than they do for President. Really though, you can vote for American Idol on the Internet, whereas with the president you have to figure out what district you’re in (they change them every election for fun), track down the obscure location, stand in line (if you’re in Texas, I advise you vote Democrat – much faster lines), and figure out the screwed up ballots. Every state does it differently, with Florida winning the medal for stupidest voting methods ever. On the plus side, during the 2000 election we did get to use the term “pregnant chads”. When else would you have opportunity for that?
So let’s say you’re crazy – er ambitious – enough to run for President. What do you have to do? Well, it helps if you are a wealthy, middle-aged white male with plastic hair. If you can’t manage that, you’d better have a great campaign slogan. Like “Choose me. At least I’m not so and so!” Be your own man – or really hot woman (this helps the sexist men look over your fault of not having a penis. Cause you’ve got bosoms, which are better.) The People like someone who speaks his mind. Of course you’d better not speak your real mind, or you’ll embarrass everybody. You have to impress your party platform also, or no amount of plastic hair and waxed teeth are going to get you the nomination. Hint: If you are a Republican, try not to mention “choice” too much. And if you’re a Democrat, don’t talk about how your favorite dish is endangered seals. It won’t go over well. If you’re a Libertarian, you can say whatever the hell you want, because no one will vote for you anyway.
But what if you don’t have any real viewpoints? What if you’re so stupid you only got through college because your wife (future First Lady!) did all your term papers for you while you drank heavily with your frat brothers? Not a problem. You don’t actually have to have views on the issues, or even know what they are necessarily. All you have to do is make the other guy look like more a loser than you are. This is known formally as Debate. The moderator will ask you questions to see how you stand on the issues. Oh, oh, questions! Again, don’t fret, project. And if that doesn’t work, change the subject. Observe the model below:
Moderator: Mr. Smith, what will you do to improve the economy?
Smith: Well, I will not do what Mr. Jones did.
Moderator: Great. What will you do?
Smith: Abortion is wrong. Jones likes abortion. He aborts babies for fun. In fact, he likes getting women pregnant just so he can perform more abortions. Abortion.
Moderator: That has nothing to do with the issue we are discussing.
Smith: Well it should. Abortion is important. Mr. Jones likes abortion. Also, he’s gay.
And so forth. Keep dancing around the questions while taking jabs at your opponent. Be sure you don’t say anything concrete that they can nail you on later. If they keep pressing you, claim that you are being prejudiced against because of your sex, race, national origin, or lack of intelligence. And then point out that the other candidate likes having orgies with nuns.
If you can do all this and secure your party’s nomination, you’ve got it made. Well, until you actually get elected. Then it’s time to start all over again.