It’s very risky to write about politics, especially in an election year. Oh sure, by not participating I miss the chance to open 23,465,300 bags of hate mail telling me that I am the world’s biggest doofus, and let’s not forget losing out on getting my mailbox blown up. It’s not that I don’t have an opinion or a favorite candidate; it’s just that in this election year, I keep changing it. In fact, I have too many opinions.
I’m one of those people who is like a chameleon; I take on the persona of whatever is before me. If a political telemarketer calls me with a British accent, I will keep talking to him with the same accent after only about five seconds. I say things like blimey and God save the Queen’s Yorkshire Pudding. Eventually I buy a dozen hand mixers with a portrait of the Queen Mum on the front.
It’s the same thing with a Southern drawl. I come off sounding like Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar named Desire,” waving a perfumed white linen handkerchief and screaming how insufferably hot it is while drinking mint juleps. So we know I have no backbone, stamina or loyalty. Actually, I should run for office myself.
A few years ago, when I was in Washington, I wandered into one of those stores that sells all kinds of political memorabilia and souvenirs. They had lots of gag gifts, too. There were the coffee mugs with Hillary Clinton ‘s face on them and at the bottom it said Dope instead of Hope. There were the Bernie Sanders T-shirts that were emblazoned with the words, “Feel the Bern.” And I can’t forget the Donald Trump keychains with different shades of red hair color, and that was just the ex-wives.
Lots of customers came and went. All of us wandered around, occasionally chuckling over a T-shirt that proclaimed, “The only problem with political jokes is they get elected to office.” I didn’t buy anything, but I noticed something strange after a while. No one else bought anything either. There wasn’t anything wrong with the merchandise; it’s just that nothing made us enthusiastic enough to purchase the item. Then it dawned on me. It was the same thing as picking out one of the candidates to vote for – not enough of a good choice for most people. Sure, we recognized it was there, but did we really want to invest in it? The goods seemed like a slate of presidential candidates.
The clerk told me business was down. He used to sell tons of shotglasses, pens with the constitution written on the end, ties of red and blue, but now, not so much. He used to have a run on bumper stickers that endorsed saving the forest, saving the whales, saving the earth – now, not so much. It didn’t matter what political affiliation, either. Now, nothing.
Real issues seemed to have been lost, he claimed. He felt like Clint Eastwood in “Gran Torino,” sitting on his front porch every night with his shotgun and beer, just waiting for anything reasonable to happen. Even a burp would have been nice.
Pretty soon, politics will be front and center again. Someone needs to say something we can think about and debate the merits of, he said. All I hear about is who has the outside track on telling the most lies. In fact, if they had a presidential oath that said, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” they would probably have to leave the Oval Office empty. Hey now, that’s not a bad idea.