This presidential election is the like a puppet show put on by condescending extraterrestrials. / by Dan Mayer


I don't know about you, but I never asked to have the gruesome, horrifying political id of this country so graphically diagrammed. I'm talking about the election, something I swore to myself I wouldn't do with anyone except people who already dislike me. Sadly, I surrender. There is something wrong with us all, and we need to accept this electoral sinkhole for what it is: a symptom of a greater illness.

This election is what happens when people lose track of the essential nature of their own humanity. 

What has been laid bare by this debacle is a simple thing. In our general sense of dysphoria about the world we feel we've inherited, Americans are often inspired by (and occasionally worshipful of) personalities that evince great power. Power that can be used to generate change, any change. Change the regime, change the game, change our country's psychic diaper. We just want things to be different, and we want it immediately. We are not a patient people. In that capacity, we deserve the Donald.

If you took the glistening dewdrop of pure, unalloyed self-regard that keeps each of us from inhabiting our wholly angelic selves, collected them all and poured the mixture into an expensive but ill-fitting suit, that is what Donald Trump is like. By comparison, Hillary Clinton is fairly mild, even-tempered, experienced, but sort of dead inside, like Angela Merkel without the barely controlled rage. That is what people are addressing when they say they can't trust her. It isn't the dodgy political relationships or the tall, amorphous shadow of Bill. It's that deadness, the void in her heart that makes people feel like she might not be all the way human.

That isn't true about Hillary Clinton. She is just a person, not very warm, and a little too cagey. She is also a woman in politics. None of those things are true about Trump, especially the "person" part. Why has America allowed him to crawl across the political landscape like an out-of-control kudzu?

Because he is a boy. I'll say it. A particular kind of boy, the kind who bullies, who overtaxes his own limited charisma, who mistakes volume for meaning. We love that kind of person here in 'Merica. The Donald has sold his followers on the idea that only he can deliver that change we want so badly, and deliver it now, in a massive, disruptive burst. This is a level of arrogance that defies comparison, but there are many of us who wish we could have a tiny dose of that for ourselves. A little dollop of Donald to help us negotiate a raise or assert ourselves shamelessly in our relationships. Mostly Trump represents a glorious reprieve from the responsibility to be decent in our actions. He is a vacation from love.

Hillary is diligent, plotting, careful, and too managed in her approach to us, the public. We don't know exactly what we're looking at when we look at Hillary, and so we can't project ourselves onto her. She seems like the kind of person who has embraced the truth of American politics, and knows that it can never be the tidal wave of transformation that all campaigners must announce. When she promises the tidal wave, we know she's faking it. She knows we know she's faking it. Change in this country comes in a trickle, and the most we can hope for is the odd surfable seven-footer like the Affordable Care Act. Hillary is the candidate of real life. That's why her experience and professionalism don't prevent her from being hated.  

We don't want realism, we want magic. And if we can't have magic, we'll chug a Big Gulp full of snake oil to help us forget our own part in how we got here.