Finally, in an election season that started in what seems to be around 1792, the voters will choose the next President.
Both candidates are making their last minute pitches to the American public. Despite what the polls say, there is a rather significant number of individuals who are still undecided—greater than the margin of error, the pollster’s moral equivalent of pulling out. These equivocating individuals are known in statistical terms as complete morons. That may be a bit harsh, of course, though politics has little patience for the uninitiated. There are a few exceptions as to why anyone would still not have enough information to make a decision—the Amish, for instance, or the clinically insane. The candidates are going to be bringing their message to Monday Night Football, for crying out loud, trying to latch onto the last vestige of normalcy in the public that hasn’t been inundated with small snippets of misinformation served out of context after being market tested.
Of course, given that the end-game speeches of both candidates pretty much boil down to “I mean, c’mon,” it’s easy to see why many people just want the damn thing over with.
Pundits are mixed as to whether this is a massive realignment in the political landscape or just a reaction to the combined train wreck and helium-induced self-combustion that is the last, tragic days of the Bush Administration. Some look at America and see people who yearn for health care reform, protecting the environment, and disgust with the wealthy class. Other, more realistic individuals see a vast collection of individuals who will forget about all of these things once Ashley Simpson “accidentally” flashes her hoo-ha in front of the TMZ crew.
John McCain has a desperate road ahead of him on Election Day. He is quite far behind on the polls, and is losing in nearly every battleground state. His only glint of hope is that a reasonably large number of individuals still haven’t made up their mind, and in a world where Two and a Half Men gets nominated for an Emmy anything is, indeed, possible.
Barack Obama, for his part, is campaigning like he’s already won, which in all likelihood he has. He’s reached out publicly to specific individuals, asking them to be in his administration; he’s even letting Joe Biden speak at rallies without having someone nearby with a blackjack and a tranquilizer gun. Overconfidence is always a bad thing for politicians, however; marginal supporters, assuming it’s in the bag, may be less inclined to hike it to the pools under adverse conditions, such as getting a decent tee time.
It’s also going to be an historic election regardless of the outcome. For the Democrats, nominating the first black candidate is not only symbolic but an important step in recognizing race relations in this country. If the Republicans win, there will be the first woman on a major ticket to win. It’s a far cry from 2000, when it was two white boys from Texas who won.
Of course, in Western Pennsylvania, things have turned slightly uglier than normal. Jack Murtha, a House Democrat, has been on record stating that Western Pennsylvanians are basically racist and may be willing to vote against Obama simply because he is black; after apologizing, he effectively noted that we weren’t racist but merely “redneck.” (In a world where there is an actual flourishing market for fake bull testicles to attack to your vehicle, this is probably more of a feature than a bug.) Western Pennsylvanians aren’t necessarily any more or less racist or redneck than anyone else, at least on paper, but they also tend to not be fans condescending politicians. So much so that Murtha may only win with 55% of the vote instead of 70% this time. (As an aside, Pennsylvania is one of the few states that mandate that all state liquor stores be closed today. I feel this is wrong, since if there’s any day in which you need a stiff drink, November 4th is it.)
There are pitched battles of ugliness throughout the national elections as well, particularly for the Senate. The North Carolina Senate race has turned sour, with motherly incumbent Elizabeth Dole dragging out the “all Democrats are atheists” horse and flogging it publicly, something normally discouraged in practice by the Methodist Church. The corruption trial of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, who, at 1,500 years old, is the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, concluded that he was guilty and effectively ceded the race to the Democrats, reducing the number of Alaskan Democrats that are not currently serving in Congress to be about 50% or so. In Minnesota, they are seriously considering electing comedian Al Franken to the Senate, an absurdity ranked only above the completely ridiculous notion that any state would elect a former professional wrestler to the governor’s office.
But on Tuesday night—or, more probably, next Friday three weeks from now when all the court challenges have been exhausted and the pundits have worn themselves out with barely-legitimate rationalizations about minutia and both Diebold and ACORN have been drug out into the public and flogged by members of the Methodist Church—we will finally know who our next President will be. In either case—whether it be the messianic Barack Obama or the underdog maverick John McCain—there are going to be lots of people getting piss-ass drunk Tuesday night. And there’s nothing quite as uniquely American as that.