It was like the old story where an elderly hostess throws one last bash. She engraves the fanciest of invitations, hires a band, commissions a chef to prepare the hautest of cuisine. She decorates for weeks. Everything is in place for the perfect soiree. But the party flops.
No one shows up.
It turns out (after the hostess goes off to die quietly of shame) that she forgot to mail the invitations.
Americans Elect has no such handy excuse for the fact that no candidate managed to clear its threshold for support.
But the lack of attendance at this party is not difficult to understand.
“Hey,” Americans Elect says, “politics are dirty and ugly and unpleasant and have gotten vitriolic to the point that no nice person would touch them with a long-handled spoon. Speaking of which, who here wants to run for office?”
As far as it goes, Americans Elect has definitely ruled out Lack Of Funds And Organization as the reason why Nicer People don’t run for office. That may be its greatest contribution.
But never fear!
I have never let low attendance or a bad premise dissuade me from joining a party before. I may be the candidate Americans Elect needs. Or if not the candidate it needs, certainly the candidate it deserves. Or if not the candidate it deserves, certainly a candidate, of some sort, as Lena Dunham would say.
As far as I can tell, the election so far has been about frivolous
subjects. Those are my area of expertise. And judged merely on the
criteria we’ve been judging the actual candidates on, I am golden. I’m in favor of mothers and women!
I have never done anything to a dog.
I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Swiss citizen.
I’ve never forgotten one-third of my talking points in the middle of a debate.
I have never written a love letter to anyone commenting that the recipient shared T.S. Eliot’s fundamental ambivalence.
I have never given anyone an angry surprise haircut.
I don’t own any sweater vests.
Why run? Well, my health insurance doesn’t cover proctological
exams. Running for president isn’t cheaper, but it’s just as invasive. It’s a great way to see if you did anything mildly weird in your youth that
you forgot about.
It’s great for folks like me who are having difficulty writing a memoir because they don’t think they’ve done anything sufficiently interesting or scandalous. The instant you run, incidents materialize as if by magic.
So if you need someone, Americans Elect, I’m here. I am not eligible to serve, but if anything that is probably a point in my favor. As Douglas Adams said, “Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” This would be a handy escape valve if things got too far.
Still, what happened? America used to produce third-party candidates by the sackful.
We have a robust history of third parties, going all the way back to the AntiMasonic groundswell of the 1820s. They are built around singular figures with singular causes (Perot, say), or on principle (remember the Prohibition Party?) or, er, just a generalized terror of Catholics and foreigners (Know-Nothings, anyone?). The trouble with Americans Elect is that it may be too non-controversial. The idea that the current political system has problems is not exactly breaking new ground. In fact, it’s something both current parties fervently maintain.
The thing that sets third-party candidates apart from mainstream candidates is their — what Bertie Wooster would call their indefinable thingness.
That is their strength and their weakness. As a consequence, you can’t create a third-party candidate by explaining rationally to the American people why having one would solve what is wrong with our process. If all you had to do to make things appear was rationally explain why it would be nice to have one, I would have a boyfriend now.
But in the mean time, I have a lot of spare time. And I hear my country is calling.