Succession Imitates Life

I’m on the record as thinking Succession is one of the best teevee series ever. I’m usually a detached viewer but the most recent episode America Decides got to me in a way that even those who don’t watch the show will understand.

The phrase “the most important election of our lifetime” echoed throughout the episode. Win or lose election eve used to be a joyous occasion that celebrated our Democracy. In my first election as a voter, I thought the country would be in good hands if either Ford or Carter won. Jerry because he listened to Betty and Jimmy because he was the Democrat. BUT in the 21st Century election eves are stressful because the stakes are so damn high. We’re obliged to hang out a Democracy or Bust sign every two years.

It all began on election eve 2000. The presidential campaign was a dull one and it seemed to be a choice between two moderates who didn’t make one’s pulse race. I voted for Gore, but admit to thinking: How bad can Poppy Bush’s idiot son be? I was wrong. It was only okay if you like endless wars and economic calamity.

2000 is when we got used to the notion that presidential elections won’t always be decided on election eve. It was when we realized that a popular vote loser could win the prize. I was in denial before that thinking it was a vestige of the 19th Century. Who the hell wants to be the new Benjamin Harrison?

The Bush-Gore post-election battle brought out the worst in all concerned, especially the Supreme Court. That was the moment that SCOTUS credibility began to go to hell in a bucket where it currently resides.

2004 was the first election where the most important election in our lifetime was the key phrase. The Bushies eked out a narrow victory. It was the only time this century that the GOP won a majority in the popular vote.

The most important election of our lifetime thing got a respite in 2008 and 2012. Neither McCain nor Romney posed an existential threat to the Republic. But the 2010 Tea Party wave midterm election foreshadowed the electoral hell in which we currently dwell.

Echoes of 2016 and 2020 abound in the latest episode of Succession. Logan Roy’s idiot sons force the ATN election desk to call the election for the neo-Fascist Republican, Jeryd Mencken. He’s a younger and better-coiffed version of the Kaiser of Chaos. The CEO-bros do it for selfish reasons and because they can. Roman Roy goes from a guy only interested in texting dick pix to picking a president. He still, however, is incapable of speaking in complete sentences. How Trumpy is that?

America Decides has a telling moment, which made me think of CNN’s Trump town hall mishigas. The most important thing to the fictional folks at ATN is that their election coverage be a “a night of good TV” consequences be damned. The Roy’s head flack Hugo Baker sounded like CNN’s Chris Licht as he watched Democratic nominee Daniel Jimenez speak. I can’t beat how Vulture recapper Scott Tobias put it so I’ll quote him.

“‘Respect the process.’ ‘Count every vote.’ He’s so fucking dull.” Hugo on Jiménez says a lot about what actually matters for network executives and what doesn’t.

Truer words were never typed.

Let’s circle back to the point of this post. Election exhaustion. I pine for at least one major election in which the stakes aren’t existential. I know I’m dreaming as the GOP is now dominated  by people who hire neo-Nazis and inspire violent attacks on Congressional offices.

Given his terrible electoral track record, I don’t think the Indicted Impeached Insult Comedian can win the general election but he’s likely to be the Republican nominee in 2024. As long as Trump’s name is on the ballot, the election will be fraught with uncertainty and agita.

I’m tired of every election being the most important election of our lifetime, but that’s where Fortuna’s Wheel has landed. We’re still going to Hell In A Bucket, but unlike Bob Weir and John Perry Barlow, I’m not enjoying the ride.

The last word goes to the good old Grateful Dead:

That was when Bob Weir was the Dead’s eternal kid brother as opposed to the grizzled leader of Dead and Company. Oh well, what the hell.

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