One of my guilty pleasures throughout the day, the evening, and in the wee hours is to retread the political news. I record all of my favorite news programs, or “shows” in the morning so that I may consume them conveniently all day long. I never get tired of watching. How sad.
I used to think it was because I was addicted to the election, but now I’m beginning to realize that what I’m addicted to are the pundits. (Yes, that is sad.) They are comfortably middle-aged, for the most part, and very very wise. I know all of the talking heads by name on my favorite networks and several more on my least favorite networks. I don’t discriminate, I watch and listen to everyone. Even if I end up throwing my bagel at the TV.
In fact, there are a few people I can’t wait to see, and when they appear I get excited. “Oh look! So and So, my favorite political contributor is on!” Or, “Isn’t that So and So, the former strategist?” I want to be a So and So. I used to think I wanted to be a movie star, but I believe my true calling is to be a pundit.
Do I need any special training for this? I don’t think so. Yes, I realize that most pundits are former strategists, or politicians, or legal analysts, or political historians. But can’t I just rely on my big mouth and big opinions? Not to sound grandiose, but I know more than most of these people, and that’s just the plain truth. Ask anyone in my family or anyone unfortunate enough to sit next to me at my kitchen table. I know what’s going to come out of a pundit’s mouth before they do.
Sometimes I picture myself sitting up there at one of those round tables, or on one of those uncomfortable stools adjusting my skirt–just sitting there, laughing with the other guests, waiting to be called on. I could do it, I just know I could. And if I contributed something truly witty or keen I would beam on the inside with pride.
Of course, the flip side is uttering something that’s not intelligent or original. The kind of tripe that’s not worthy of a cable news program. I know the worst offenders and I hate it when they come on. “Oh God, not So and So again, she’s such an idiot!” Or “Why do they keep asking him to come on? He’s a relic. And an idiot.”
Of course, that’s the sticking point. Looking like an idiot. You don’t have to necessarily be an idiot to look like one. And in true narcissistic, movie star form I would loathe looking like an idiot. I would make damn sure I knew the issues inside and out. I mean, who would actually appear on a news program and not be prepared, prepped, or informed? Who would have the nerve to go on the air before the American people and not know anything? Would anyone be immature enough to think they could rely simply on their charm or bluster to fool the American electorate?
But I digress. I don’t think being a pundit is in the stars for me. I believe that ship has sailed. I’ll have to content myself with chatting to my TV screen only. To keeping my righteous indignation to myself. To depriving the public of my wisdom. To swallowing my factual opinions, only to regurgitate them later when my husband comes home. What a shame. Anderson, I am a grown up, (for the most part) but you’ll just have to do without me for now.
This has been an unpresidented campaign season. We the People still have no idea who will be occupying the oval office next January. No one has hit their delegate count yet, and political fervor and favor morph every day. It’s still true that a candidate will say and do just about anything for a vote, but the pandering has hit a new level. I’ve seen hyperbole on both sides of the aisle, and enough locker room vulgarity to last me until the next election cycle. Nothing is shocking anymore, nothing is surprising. Except for maybe the fact that this year is unknowable and unpredictable. Even the polls are getting everything—including us—wrong. I yearn for the days when you could walk down the streets of your town and profile your fellow citizens perfectly. You could nail them—what their religion was, where they liked to eat, what their hobbies were, where they liked to shop, what music they enjoyed, and so on, by their political yard sign.
I remember what I said to my daughter years ago when she asked me why I didn’t park closer to a convenience store way off the highway in the North Carolina countryside. I rolled my foreign car into an obscure spot under about 32 trees. It was an election year and I told her I didn’t want to offend anyone with my bumper stickers. In reality, I didn’t want anyone to key scratch my car when we were inside the store.
Now, you can’t presume anything about an individual based on the candidate they’re supporting. Even if it seems obvious. As a nation most of us have been forced to settle a bit when it comes to our current crop of candidates. You might vote for someone in a primary just because they are the lesser of two, three, or four evils. You might vote for one candidate simply to negate another. There are exceptions of course. I’ve already spotted a few unapologetic Bernie signs around town. They’ve been mounted by the young, the idealistic, and the vegan. Okay, that’s not fair, but I like to stereotype. (However, my teenage daughter is a relentless Feel the Bern fan and she’s been a vegetarian for over five years now.)
The great irony of all this is that I’m old enough to remember wearing Nehru collars, maxi dresses, and elephant bell pants. I listened to the Cowsills, collected Aquarius posters, and filled my room with incense and peppermints. And I’m still not 100% sure of my vote. Is it because I also own a pair of cowboy boots, enjoy skeet shooting, and was born in Houston, Texas? This has been a crazy election year so far for We the People. One filled with bemusement, soul-searching, and ambivalence. Some of us won’t be able to cast our ballots with the same enthusiasm as in years past. Maybe because we’re confused about our own political yard sign. In most cases—at least in the primaries—we might be forced to just hold our noses and pull the lever.