If you want to know why we lost, ask the lady at the Wal-Mart deli counter.
I was picking up a pound of salami on Tuesday when she asked, “Have you voted yet?”
No, I told her. I was shopping for some groceries and then heading home. The polling place was on the way and since it was about 2 p.m., I’d be fine.
“I wish they’d tell me who to vote for,” she said with a sigh.
They are, I explained. The ads, the news, hell, everyone is telling you to do something.
She kind of lowered her head a bit, her plastic hairnet pulling back against her bangs. She seemed to be in her mid-60s. She had the look of a woman who was pretty once and still remained so in the mind’s eye. Her smile had dulled under the weight of reality, her hands nicked and gnarled by her work. She wore a plain wedding band that hung loosely on her finger. I think her nametag said “Dorothy” or “Delores,” a pretty name, but one people don’t give to kids any more.
She reminded me of my grandmother a bit.
“I know,” she said, sighing again. “But they all tell me different things and they all yell at each other and I’m just tired of listening. I just want things fixed. Just tell me what I should do.”
Just tell me what to do…
The Republicans represent the guy in the office who tells the fat secretary that she looks good and mmm… Break me off a piece of that! And by the way, can I have those reports by 5? They tell the guy with no hair he looks younger every day. They tell the unathletic guy that we need him on the company hoops team. They tell the grandma how cute her grandchildren are as they are setting fire to the printer during “Take your demon-seed to work day.”
Then, they go home, pour themselves a huge drink and say, “What a bunch of fucking idiots.”
The Democrats are the socially awkward kids that no one wants to play with. When you ask them how they’re feeling, they tell you about a boil on their ass and how they’ve got an itchy spot near their wee-wee. They accidentally blow snot on their shirts when they laugh. They think appropriate dinner conversation can include an explanation as to why the salt you’ve just used will make your arteries shrink up, shatter and kill you. The only time they can be viewed as cool is when you need to copy last night’s homework from someone who surely has the right answers.
They go home, alone, and wonder why people don’t like them.
The Republicans have all the best answers: We need jobs! Wisconsin is “Open for Business!” Keep your money and make the state better! You look good in that muumuu and sponge-roller outfit!
The Democrats have all the honest answers: You can’t unfuck things in 22 minutes. You’re not rich, and will never be, so the Bush tax cuts aren’t helping you. You and your 10th grade education are probably screwed, but let’s put the money into schools so your kids won’t be. Yes, those jeans make your ass look HUGE!
If ever there was an election that typified this, it was 30 years ago with Reagan-Carter. We had a Georgia peanut farmer telling us that we were in a crisis of confidence, that things were going to be hard and that we all needed to sack up. We had a slick actor guy telling us, “You’re so beautiful! We’re all ready to go! It’s morning in America again! And by the way, can I get your vote by 5?”
You can make the point that the educated among us won’t fall for this kind of crap. It’s true to some extent, but we all have that touchstone thing that we need to be told to make us feel better: jobs are coming, our money is safe, we’re not bigots because we don’t like “the gays” getting hitched, evolution is just a theory, “it” will grow back etc.
When it comes to both parties, the realities are the same. The message is different.
And we just want to be told what to do.