American Presidential Politics: A Helpful Primer!

SOME HORSES JUST WANT TO WATCH THE WORLD BURN

We’re now one year out from the election, and this particular election cycle has been going on for — *checks watch* — well, let’s just go with FOR AN INTOLERABLE AMOUNT OF TIME. And last night was the 3,912th iteration of the GOP debates, our current favorite sport, where yet again the candidates disappointingly failed to oust one another with sword and javelin.

I have occasionally seen some international friends marvel at our election process, particularly as regards the EAGLE THRONE OF LORD PRESIDENT, and I imagine they have a look on their faces like, “Wow, what the unholy hell is going on over there in America? Is everybody okay? Do they need an intervention?” Meanwhile, Canada elected Justin Trudeau, a certified hunk of smoldering manflesh who then filled his cabinet with people who are both actually capable to do their jobs but also represent surprising ethnic and gender diversity. (When asked why he did this, Trudeau said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Because it’s 2015 and because you have to ask me that question, you jabbering chimpanzee. Now behold my sexiness as I snowboard into your heart. WWHIISSH.”)

So, to those wondering what’s going on over here, I will take a moment to explain.

Presidential politics is composed of two stages:

The primary race.

And then the presidential race.

The primary race is the thousand-year stage where we’re at now, in which each party votes for its particular KINGSLAYER who will attempt to forcibly occupy the EAGLE THRONE during the next round of Presidential Idol, the race itself. This first half represents an ugly, inefficient and ultimately demeaning contest, and here’s what I mean:

To win your primary, you must “appease your base.” See, your base comprises the center mass of your political party tribe — and this can be viewed best as a naked, filthy throng of zealots and acolytes pawing and biting at one another. You have to make those people happy, or so the wisdom goes. In effect, your job as a candidate is to cover yourself in as much pigshit as possible in order to convince the filthy throng that you are just like them. You just keep glopping it on, the wet slaps of hog ordure echoing through the auditorium as you dance and gambol about, ooking and gabbling and urinating everywhere. I’M JUST LIKE YOU, you must grunt and gibber.

I AM JUST LIKE YOU.

Ah, but then you win the nomination.

Then you go to the big race, where you no longer are trying to appease the lunatic mass of your tribe. Now you’re trying to appeal to the larger voting body — more or less everyone. You really can’t win that election by impressing only your party. You gotta shoot down the middle. So, in the first race, you shellac yourself in swine feces. And in the second race, you now have to convince the rest of us that no sir, I never covered myself in pigshit, not once, not ever, never will, nope, nope, nope. What’s that smell? It’s not me. It’s the other guy. What’s that? You have video of me pouring buckets of farm filth over my head? That’s not me. That’s somebody else. I’m your guy.

In the primary race, you have to aim for the fringes.

And in the presidential race, you have to aim for the center.

This might sound like you ultimately appealing to everyone by the end — the farthest-flung and the most moderate — but that’s not really how it works. Because moderates and fringe people don’t really see eye to eye. This isn’t scoring points. This is allying with opposing groups and then trying to pretend you never did that. This is clan politics. This is tribal warfare. (And really, it’s a result of the very limited two-party system — but that’s a discussion for another day.)

Now, ultimately, this is true for both parties. But here’s where I attempt to shut down false equivalency (aka the excuse of BOTH PARTIES ARE JUST AS BAD) and where I further show my admittedly liberal (if not explicitly Democratic) bias —

The GOP covers itself in a far stinkier brand of pigshit.

Like, the Democrats? Their pigshit smells mostly pretty nice. You may not like it. You may not think it’s effective enough, or the right smell, or that it’s too nice, but at the end of the day, the liberals usually come out of the gate trying to convince their base of their basic humanity — right? They want health care and less war and fewer guns to kill ourselves with — their pigshit is, for better or for worse, optimistic. Maybe that optimism is ideal. Maybe it’s naive. Maybe it’s a lie. (That’s for you to decide.) At the end of the day, the Democratic party is more moderate, and so their political base lines up more cleanly (if imperfectly) with the moderate outlook.

The GOP though, they get worse every cycle. Their shit stinks louder every time. It’s as if Rush Limbaugh impregnated the party years back with his demon seed, and that baby’s been swelling and bloating inside the beast ever since. The GOP is increasingly reducing their pigshit down like a fine French sauce until its potency is truly eye-watering. It’s no longer enough to say blah blah blah you want smaller government and fiscal responsibility. Now you have to want no government at all. Now you have to somehow pull off the spine-bowing gymnastics where you convince your party that you’re running for governmental office yet are mysteriously anti-government. Worse, you have to claim to want no government while at the same time claiming to want more government intervention in things like, say, women’s uteruses. You’ve gotta be a total shithead, actually — you have to say you hate women and brown people and Muslims and science? What’s science? Isn’t science the thing that makes Jesus sad? Yeah, no, fuck science, science has never gotten us anywhere ever. Remember the Dark Ages? THOSE WERE THE BEST OF TIMES. Jesus will tell you. He loved the Dark Ages. In fact, you have to commit to the positively Satanic act of convincing people you’re a total JESUSHEAD while simultaneously taking political positions that would’ve made the Real Jesus turn into an actual white person because of how pale he’d go — if Jesus were here right now, we probably would’ve convinced him that we simply do not deserve to live. All that love thy neighbor bullshit would fall by the wayside as he reluctantly commanded the Second Deluge to sweep us all away. Maybe he’d call that Second Deluge “global warming,” and then he’d laugh as we all drowned in the boiling water that the GOP said was never coming because, if you’ll recall, science is stupid and climate change is a lie.

And JESUS FORBID you’re actually reasonable. The more reasonable you are, the deeper your poll numbers plunge. Jon Huntsman came out of the gate and was like, “Global warming is real and the GOP should’ve been leading the way on gay marriage because that’s the epitome of the government staying out of your business,” and I’m pretty sure a broken toaster would’ve gotten better poll numbers. Meanwhile, Ben Carson wants to convince you he tried to stab a kid and that Jesus filled the Pyramids with Secret Jesus Frankenstein Monsters, and Trump wants you to know that fuck you, that’s what, and those two kookaloons are soaring in the poll numbers.

All the while, you hear the moist sounds of pigshit hitting skin.

SLAP. SPLAP. SPLURCH. PBBBT.

And the tribe moans and applauds and moves together with the gallumphing sameness of a slime mold whose glistening pseudopods writhe in squishy unison.

Then they win the nomination, quick wash off, and try to convince you they don’t think all the horrible things they think — or at least that they never said the horrible things they said.

(As a sidenote, this is one of the reasons I’m dubious of Bernie Sanders’ ability to win the nomination. Setting aside the fact he’s old and yells at you like your grandpa, his politics — while smart and lovely! — are also probably outside the scope of the moderate middle American vibe. I may be cynical here and I do like him. But I worry. I worry.)

How do you fix it? Fuck, I dunno. I dunno if there is a fix. The 24-hour-news-cycle makes it worse. The 25-hour-tornado-ragey-snark-fest that is the Internet exacerbates it. The laws allowing money in politics ensures that corporate interests trump human interests. The two-party system — well, I already went there. Lots of people vote for the presidential contest, but too few vote for any of the local or state ones. Maybe it’s fixable. I dunno.

But my fear is that it keeps on swirling the drain like this. That the stench of pigshit gets stenchier. That politics continues to be a hold-your-nose affair.

Then again, Canada just elected Trudeau, so what do I know? Maybe a better day truly awaits.

Maybe we should just listen to The Oatmeal reminding us, “It’s going to be okay.”

ANYWAY. So, that’s the primary process, explained through ANIMAL WASTE.

More on the big contest later, when our party’s KINGSLAYERS have been decided!

Wooooo!

*cry-vomits into open hands*