I’m amazed how little I understand politics.
It’s not for a lack of trying. Over the past fifteen years I’ve made a practice of watching Meet the Press each Sunday. This tv program seems to be impartial and also they book the biggest guests in Washington. And even with all of that exposure over all those years, I’m still never certain who to vote for in any given election. Now, to be clear, I’m talking about presidential elections. I conduct zero research on who my local representatives are and what they stand for. I couldn’t tell you who the governor is or what political party he represents. Our mayor is Rahm Emmanuel, but I only know that because he was in my path heading to the subway once. He laughed because one of his security detail saw that I was carrying my chihuahua in a backpack. But if you were to ask me when the senators or house elections are I would have to recuse myself to the bathroom to do a secret Google search. I’d double flush so you’d think I was having a problem, which would buy me a few more minutes to get the facts memorized.
I feel like a dick when voting because I’ve only ever spent time learning about the presidential candidates. But, come November, there’s like two dozen other offices on that ballot. And I don’t know what the hell a district selectman is and who would do the best job selecting districts. And, yes, technically you can abstain from voting for all the offices where you don’t know the candidates. To be fair to those candidates, I simply shouldn’t vote for those offices. But I do. If I don’t know who’s who (which is always) I pick out the coolest name. If both the last names are lame, I might choose by which political party he/she represents. Or there might be something else that jumps off the page and catches me eye. “Oh look, there’s a chick on the ballot for circuit court judgeship. I wonder if it’s like the first woman ever for that position… Hmm… I want to be on the right side of this one, so I’d better vote her way.” This is not a responsible voting strategy.
Which brings me to an idea that I’m shocked I haven’t heard more often – the notion that most people shouldn’t vote. This is not a popular opinion. Don’t believe me? At your next cocktail party casually bring it up. I recommend sandwiching the belief between two innocuous statements, as to disarm the partygoer. “Did you know that The Martian was scientifically consistent with what it would be like to be actually trapped on Mars? I don’t think the vast majority of Americans should be voting. Hey, where’s the shrimp tray?”
Notice the pushback after making this statement. Follow up with your observation that 90% of the population is dopey and shouldn’t be deciding important stuff like who should govern an entire nation. People will respond with, “That’s hogwash!” and “It’s everyone’s duty to vote!” and “There’s shrimp?” But the idea that we should all vote is nonsense. There’s no way that most people even do the research I do before election day, and I’m confident in saying that I have no business voting. How about only allowing the smartest people to get access to the voting booths? I only want the smartest people involved with picking politicians. So who would the smartest citizens vote for? Hell if I know, because I’m not one of them. But I assume they’re going to make a more informed decision that’s better for the rest of us because, well, they’re smart. Duh.
I’ll go one further. You can’t just be regular-smart to get the right to vote, you have to be super-smart. Mensa-smart. Send me a petition that only members of Mensa are allowed to vote on politics and I’ll stand on the street corner getting signatures for the cause. I actually tried to get into Mensa once – I failed the test. Now, to be fair I was close. But not close enough. Mensa told me to fuck right off. See – they have standards for membership. We should have the same for voting. But how do you implement such a policy? No clue. Ask the nerds in Mensa. They’ll figure it out.
Okay, so that’s all I have on politics. But I also played a joke a few weeks ago on my sister that’s worth shoehorning into this essay.
I went to spend the holidays at my sister and her husband’s new home. I overheard Dana mention that she thought all the top republican presidential candidates were awful this go-around. You could tell she had done her research as she was giving her take on each person’s failings and why they sucked. I don’t know if she votes democrat or republican or that green party thing, if that’s even still around. I made a mental note of her distaste of this year’s GOP crop.
The next day I was using one of her bathrooms and I noticed she had installed shelving for knick-knacks. On these shelves were three small picture frames but sans pictures. They had just moved into the home a few months back and they must have forgot to insert pics. I briefly thought of secretly taking photos where I’m crying, getting them printed and then placing them in the frames without my sister’s knowledge. I would love for a guest at their home to come out of the bathroom asking, “Why do you have three photos of your brother crying? Who took those photos? And why did you decide to showcase them in your bathroom? And why is he sitting on the beach in that one? What’s so sad about the beach?” It would have been hilarious for them to try to make sense of it.
But it’s hard to whip up red eyes and the tears on command and then take a selfie three separate times. I tried, but I couldn’t do it even once. I never took an acting class and haven’t the skillset to access those emotions on command. I needed another angle.
I found it.
Yes, I decided on the three republican front-runners. I did all of this from the airport on the way home, by the way. It was in the security line when the idea came to me. I set it up to be printed at a local WalMart and asked my folks (who were still in town) to go pick it up and complete the joke for me. I’d like to mention my dedication to this because these were 2″x2″ photos. And only one thing comes in that size – passport photos. I had to order these as if they were actual passport pictures. Each one was over $7. But it was worth it.
My sister’s husband found them the next night. He thought it was funny. So did my sister. I have no idea if they’ve since swapped them out for pictures them vacationing or if Donald, Marco, and Ted still adorn the bathroom shelf next to the decorative soaps.
Maybe on my next visit I’ll try the crying thing again. That’s worth another attempt, right? I should hire an acting coach to get ready.