Pity those millions and millions of politically alienated Amurricans
who didn’t vote for either presidential candidate, Bore or Gush, puling
scions of the ruling class, yet are condemned to endure seemingly
endless post-election shenanigans that drag our divided and bamboozled
nation closer and closer to the brink of possible open revolt. What
must it be like, sitting on the sidelines, knowing these two major-party
mediocrities are not YOUR candidate, so you’re detached or maybe even
indifferent to the outcome, while that pathetic pair of plutocrats duked
it out, their inept, numbed-out punches never quite landing, amid a
flurry of legal motions and counter-motions, not-so-fancy footwork,
dueling minorities and conspiracy theorists, contradictory court
decrees and shameful Scalia conflicts of interest, so instead Campaign
2000 devolved into a judicial version of bad TV, something like being
forced to watch professional wrestling — Soap Opera for (Mostly)
Men — and knowing it’s all scripted, a faked match-up between, yes,
the evil of two lessers.
Hey, wake up, fella citizens, this is how fascism begins.
“I have Bush Post-Traumatic Shock Syndrome,” my stunned, incredulous
friend Bob-the-Poet-and-Nader-crusader said in a surprise midday
phone-call last Wednesday, invoking the U.S. Supreme Court, American
radio’s thinking morning man Don Imus, America’s putative president
Dubya, and America’s Hoagie — er, Hero — Ed Rendell the DNC big-mouth
in the same rambling, slightly surrealistic sentence, attempting to
sketch the cartoonish absurdity, sheer spectacle, and raging megalomania
of Democratic Party hood-ornament Rendell presuming to practically
concede for poor, hornswoggled Al Gore, who would later arguably give
the “best” speech of his bland career.
The prior evening, Anne-Adele, the lapsed anthropologist, her
computer engineer husband, Ed, and I were headed to a sleepy
Pennsylvania burg for Bob’s annual Poets and Prophets
Chris/Chan/Kwan/Stice holiday feast at some block-long, neocolonial
country-inn restaurant with an obligatory ‘e’ at the end of its name.
For me the high point was engineer/poet Emiliano mentioning he was
leaving for his native Madrid in a few days, and his first stop would be
The Museum of Ham (Museo del
Jamon), where whole huge hams, smoked and fleshy, all sizes and flavors, hundreds of them, complete with cloven feet, were hanging from the walls and rafters and ceilings like yesterday’s candidates, victor and vanquished alike.
“What do you do at the Museum of Ham, observe?” I wondered, not getting it at first. No, said the obviously carnivorous Emiliano, you point to the one you want, and they slice it — thick, running with juice — right before your
Ironic, considering during the ride up, vegetarian Anne-Adele was lamenting her personal trainer’s lame suggestion she begin eating red meat to overcome that weight-lifting plateau she’s been stuck at lately.
“Look at you,” the gym dude said, “you’re a tall, thin Nordic blonde. Well, red meat builds muscle.”
“Sorry,” A-A shook her cascade of flaxen curls, “I don’t eat creatures with four legs” — unlike Bill the college professor at the other end of the table, who blithely ordered veal despite our dirty looks fixed upon him for transgressing taste and decency in his choice of tortured and tormented baby calf. “Oh, it’s free range veal,” he shrugged. “You mean,” I said in a stage whisper, “you HOPE it’s free range veal.”
After listening to Emiliano, I began thinking of this year’s election farce as the Museum of Ham. And doesn’t that phrase also conjure up Congress? Draw your own parallels. Well, either we could patronize the establishment, or we could eat at home, a simple, peasant meal of our own choosing. “I’ve had it. I’m never voting in a national election again,” confided one exasperated friend. Then I realize Bob-the-poet, a recent open-heart surgery survivor, clearly symbolizes our beleaguered American body politic, while another dinner guest, the Republican lawyer, let’s call “Filbert,” obsessed with thoughts of his Tracy Lords smutty snapshot collection, wanted nothing more than visiting a topless go-go bar for dessert.
Ham or no, some more far-flung dissenters, like the St. Louis-based
Audible.com astrologeuse Sally Cragin, are depressed at what’s about to be served to us on the national menu: “You must write a column about how, on some [emotional] level, the American electorate deserve and crave a president who is: dumber than they are; more trouble-prone then they are; yet won the natal lottery, therefore doesn’t have to try that hard (megabucks ticket, anyone?); self-righteous and defensive. All I can hope is that the Senate/House deadlock will keep the national parks from getting carved up.”
My not-so-secret fantasy — spurred by New Yorker cartoonist/gadfly John Jonik who believes this election was stolen but oozes contempt for both corporate candidates — was the kind of scenario that makes a great Movie of the Week: What if ONE elector, for Bush, or even a few, defected to Gore out of conscience since Gore had really won the popular vote? The whole election would be flipped, again.
Meanwhile, prepare yourselves for the real hysteria, as we will doubtlessly be whipped into a frenzy by the fear-mongers. Already, the Washington Times warns us about hordes of protesters planning to descend on Washington, D.C. — “with their puppets and their mantras,” horrors! — to demonstrate against Bush’s Jan. 20 coronation, er,
There is, however, an alternative for those of us who are not thrilled about the election’s conduct or outcome. Here’s what Philadelphia activist/therapist Pam Ladds cleverly proposes, rather than going toe-to-toe with the D.C. cops: “That’s so stupid! The way to protest this inauguration is to ignore it totally. Don’t demonstrate! Don’t buy or read the press! Turn off the TV and radio! Refuse to talk to polls! Don’t go out in the streets. Call it a Day of Silence!”