Democracy is the idea that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
Henry Louis Mencken
"The nine most dangerous words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" -Ronald Reagan
Every four years, one of the most important events in the free world takes place in almost every corner of this great nation. Every Americanproviding they are over the age of 18, in this country legally, and have absolutely nothing better to dogoes to his or her nearest polling place and casts their vote for the person they will blame for everything that doesn't go to suit them, from the mortgage crunch to corn blight to ill-fitting shoes. Unless he happens to be a member of their political party, in which case he gets credit for everything that goes right, from a resurgent economy to Santa Claus bringing them that Lite Brite they've always wanted.
As the token libertarian-conservative at AAJ (I believe in an unrestricted free market, that individual rights are inextricably linked to individual responsibilities, and that the stack of vintage Playboy magazines in my closet is nobody else's business), I've been called upon to deliver my perspective on the current election. I normally keep my politics out of my writing, except for my various and random diatribes against Milwaukee city councilman James A. Bohl, Jr., but it was felt that this election needed my peculiar talents to bring everything into perspective and tone down the hyperbole before our nation descends into civil war and life as we know it ends.
This year's election pits a septuagenarian war hero of the variety once consigned to some out-of-the-way VFW hall and trotted out once a year for parades against a 40-foot-tall superintelligent cyborg who, when he isn't rescuing children from burning buildings and using his laser vision to heat nutritious meals for the elderly, sits atop Mount Olympus with the immortal spirits of FDR, JFK, and Barbara Streisand.
More about all of these clownheads later.
The original Cynics were a group of Greek philosophers who believed that the purpose of life was to live a virtuous life in agreement with the natural world, rejecting typical human pursuits such as wealth, power, fame, and possessions. This would mean rejecting the exceptionally sweet 2009 Nissan Maxima, which I sell for a living, so I cannot advocate this philosophy as a model for living. Many of the precepts of Cynicism were later absorbed into Stoicism, which struck a balance between fatalism and free will. This more closely represents my own beliefs, since it does not specifically forbid luxury sports sedans or the possession of a really nice home theater system and, when combined with a healthy dose of modern cynicism, best represents my approach to the entire body politic as it currently exists.
In short, the idea that government can in any real way influence individual happiness or prosperity, rather than simply safeguard the conduits by which these things may be obtained individually, is not merely well-meaning bullsh*t but usually the cover story for some sort of Ponzi scheme that ends up in the government taking more of my money, more of my liberty, or both.
So you've probably gathered that Your Own Personal Genius is less than enthusiastic about the prospects for this election, coming as it does at a time when the idea of the government coming to save the day is like seeing a vanload of Keystone Kops pull up in front of the New York Stock Exchange.
So, which vanload to elect?
On the one hand, we have Barack Obama, the aforementioned cyborg/messiah sent to this world by an advanced civilization to fix the economy, heal the planet, feed the children, make sure no one's grandma ever dies, and paint the sky just the perfect shade of blue with his Wonderfulness Ray (patent pending). The son of a woman from Kansas and the Egyptian god Osiris, young Obama grew up traveling the world and formulating a plan to get everyone on the planet to join together and sing that song from the Coke commercial that annoyed the crap out of everyone back in the Seventies.
Upon reaching adulthood, Obama devoted himself to solving each and every problem that currently plagues mankind. Moving to Chicago to try to straighten out the Cubs, Obama soon realized it would take more than a godlike cyborg to get that team back to the World Series (though, in his infinite benevolence, he did give the White Sox a title in 2005). Leaving Chi-town briefly to attend Harvard Law School, and joining the secret society of superheroes that has existed at the venerable institution since my fellow Virginian Lewis Powell, later a Supreme Court justice and secret identity of Gavelman (first introduced in Fantastic Four no. 51), Obama returned in a magnificent ray of golden light and was later elected to the Senate.
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr. Garner, I love playing the piano... is there any advice you could give me?'' He hesitated, then looked back at me and said, Keep playin' and don't stop!'' That was great advice because at 60 years old, I'm still playin' and haven't stopped!