Really, America: It's OK to Sit This Election Out
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker briefly lit the Internet on fire Tuesday with what may have been the best lukewarm presidential endorsement in the history of mankind—and by best, I mean worst, but in a sadly glorious way. “Last August, I said I’d support the GOP nominee,” Walker announced to his 228,000 Twitter followers, sounding dolorous, deliberate, and completely bereft of cheer. “It’s now clear who the RNC delegates will vote to nominate. And he is better than she is.”
Ah, the marvels of party unity in the looming shadow of a nameless “he”! Admire the trudging dedication! Feel the ground thunder as Walker’s herd of mental explanation points, already few and far between, frantically flee the building, squeaking in terror!
If you can read Walker’s tweet without giggling a little, I sincerely congratulate you. Then again, perhaps you’re so depressed by 2016’s political scene that you feel you’ll never laugh again. Hey, we’ve all been there: One day, you’re just minding your own business, living a normal American life, trying not to celebrate war crimes or steal houses from little old ladies by using eminent domain, or tell unbecoming lies about Benghazi or quietly take money from, say, the Saudis, and 2016 hits you. It’s brutal, really.
This week’s signature “2016 experience”—when visiting the Essence de 2016 Downmarket Day Spa, the “2016 Experience” is best described as “the most exquisite yet mundane torture, laced with several stinky essential oils of irony”—launched with Tuesday’s press conference starring FBI Director James Comey. The subject: Hillary Clinton’s email saga. Comey spent approximately 14 minutes describing in detail how Clinton was “extremely careless” with national security secrets and, from the sound of things, blatantly broke the law when it came to mishandling classified information.
At this point, many viewers were stunned. A few even dared to think the following, if just for a hopeful split second: “Gee whiz! Could this actually be? Will a Clinton actually be held accountable, unable to blithely skate on, consequence-free, like a grumpy-tempered Peggy Fleming on steroids?” Ha! You clearly have not been paying attention. To wrap things up, Comey went on to explain that laws are for little people, and that the FBI would recommend no charges against Mrs. Clinton.
No, really, here’s the actual quote: “To be clear,” Comey told the press, “this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.”
Ah. Right. Marvelous.
In case you’ve missed the overarching plot line of 2016 thus far, this is the part where Donald Trump comes in, reluctantly bunts the slow, fat softball pitched across the middle of the plate, sends a few tweets about the system being “rigged,” starts to run to first, and then starts complimenting Saddam Hussein’s efficient killing style.
"He was a bad guy -- really bad guy,” Trump told an audience in Charlotte, N.C, just hours after Director Comey had laid out enough material for approximately 600 anti-Hillary attack ads. “But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn't read them the rights. They didn't talk. They were terrorists. Over."
Saddam, of course, was known for harboring terrorists, and funding them, and happily killing people he decided he didn’t like, including, sometimes, his own citizens. Hillary Clinton’s camp seized on the line with high dudgeon; various media outlets ran with it as well.
Trump’s praise of Saddam is nothing new, of course. He’s repeated variations of this line throughout his campaign, as critics of the media frenzy have pointed out. But, guys: That’s even worse. This is not a sophisticated critique of nation building. It’s enthusiastic praise for a strongman’s killing skills, and it fits into a larger and consistent Trumpian pattern.
Welcome to the repeated circular whiplash of 2016: Just when you think one candidate has cracked you, the other will bend over backwards to do something equally bad or worse. If you’re torn as we approach November, remember this: You don’t have to pull a Scott Walker.
Don’t like your two major presidential choices? Focus on down-ballot races and local contests. Feel compelled to cast a vote for president? You could vote for libertarian Gary Johnson; alternatively, you could write in Willie Nelson, who would probably be like the Green Party’s Jill Stein, but more fun. One thing is sure: When you’re invited to a two-party party, and it’s obviously broken, dysfunctional, and filled with questionable hosts, sometimes the clearest message to send is simply declining to show up.