So here we are, staring down a rather historic moment amidst the sputtering ideological orgy that is the American experiment and if you're paying any sort of attention at all you're doubtlessly drunk on election hype and saturated with Bush/Kerry platitudes and you wish a white-hot death upon every screeching TV pundit who is right now analyzing yet another insidious national poll that seems to reveal everything and nothing at the exact same time.
And Bush is out there right this very second stumping and sweating and blinking fast and defending his useless hideous little war and hurling snide little invectives and completely fabricated exaggerations at John Kerry, and Kerry is returning the favor by casually mentioning how Bush has ruined the goddamn nation and decimated our self-respect and run roughshod over our international relations all while raping the environment like no president in history and racking up a world-record deficit and mangling the language like a child on too much Ritalin.
It has been, in short, the longest and most painful episode of "American Idol" ever, wherein the two finalists have belted every cheesy American standard and regurgitated every lame disco-era stage move and hit every warbly high note and sacrificed every shred of dignity and integrity and true individuality they might've once possessed, all in the desperate hope that you are finally sufficiently numbed to where you are finally ready press the right 800 number on your AT&T wireless service and place your stupefied vote.
We are almost there. We are so very on the cusp. This is where it all comes down to your intuition and your intelligence and a sheer force of will, your ability to overcome the media-induced nausea and deeply inbred American political ennui and hoist yourself out of this election stupor and go to your polling place and punch the little card or push the little button, and then pray you don't live in a state where the GOP has rigged the touch screens or shredded all the Democratic voter registrations as you think, wow, world's foremost democracy and yet why does it feel like I'm voting in, like, Yugoslavia? Why does it feel that this election is so incredibly messy and loaded and rife with snakes and spit and hissing corruption? Weird. Sad. Telling.
It has become surreal, this election. It has become beyond coherent. We are at a point where our election system has become suspect and deeply flawed and our ideology has come unraveled and we as a nation no longer fully understand our role in the world and the bloom is way, way off the patriotic rose, so much so that it's no longer just a matter of which candidate will put a shinier coat of paint on the massive ship of bureaucracy, but who will stop us from sinking too abruptly into the quicksand of abuse and arrogance and ever increasing irrelevance. Go, U-S-A!
So then. As we stare down this uncanny and indelible moment in American history, there are two angles of approach. One: sit back and reflect on how the hell we got here, what bizarre machinations and demonic falling dominos managed to put BushCo in power, just what sort of humiliating and positively satanic chain reaction lo these past 50 years led up to where we are now, to this bitter yet oddly amusing spectacle of a massive and awe-inspiring empire in full crumble.
This approach, it is the more depressing and fatalistic and painful of the two and will result in much sighing and the supping of wine and the licking of lovers to deflect the pain and energize the skin and try and put it all in perspective, and is recommended only in small doses. Except for the drinking and licking part.
Conversely and perhaps more enjoyably, you can project forward, then reminisce. You can, that is to say, imagine it's a short 20 years hence and it's about 2024 and we're sitting there sipping our laudanum/Vicodin Colas and injecting Nexium straight into our eyeballs and watching our 10-foot plasma-TV walls and looking back and saying my god, 2004, that was a weird one, wasn't it?
Remember that ugly time? Remember when that smirking dolt Bush Jr. was president and we went through that dark dank tunnel of spiritual dread and international humiliation and we bombed Iraq for no reason and killed all those people for no reason and gutted our own economy for no reason other than to line the pockets of the Bush WASP mafia's corporate cronies? Wasn't that just so, like, crazy?
We will make jokes and shake our heads and sigh. We will say oh man remember that defense guy? Rumsfeld? Remember his black and ominous eyes? His savage abuse of power and complete lack of accountability? Remember that demon-god Ashcroft and his oiled feet, didn't dance and didn't smoke and didn't drink and didn't have sex and wanted to crack down on nipples and scan our e-mail and check our library books and tap our phones? Remember Condi Rice, that lost and desperate look, lonely and sad and a creepy veneer of doomed longing over her soul? Weird times, my friend. Sip.
We know that 20 years hence, there will be no Reagan-like legacy for Shrub. There will be no renamed airports or honorary expressways or revisionist rose-colored history books arguing the good and the bad of his epic much-loved presidency, because there is so little good and so very, very much bad and there is absolutely no love anywhere.
We already know that history will look very, very unkindly upon this most booblike, lie-torn, appallingly underqualified of American presidents. Of this we can rest assured. Of this we will only look back and be incredibly grateful it didn't last all that long.
This angle, it is the moderately healing and perspective-adjusting one. It's comfortable and helpful to project in such a manner, especially given how it's almost too hot right now, just too frustrating and painful to remain in this moment, to sit here and wait for the election returns and the potential lawsuits and Supreme Court riggings all the while knowing the GOP is trying everything short of launching another terrorist attack to maintain power and will stop at almost nothing to instill fear and dread and Dick Cheney deeper into the numb American psyche.
You cannot stay here. You cannot sit in this moment any longer. You simply have to get out and vote and scream and then roll up this ugly hunk of living history into a tight little ball of hot gelatinous goo and hurl it at the wall of time and see what sticks.
This is my recommendation. That and the wine thing. And voting. Voting is mandatory. Do it. Do it so you have something to talk about in 20 years. So you can say you were there and you participated and you tried like hell to change history. Because of course, you can.
© 2004 SF Gate