These are not real. (Pat Myers/The Washington Post)

From a country almost continuously presided over by Facial-Haired Americans from 1860 to 1913 to one dominated solely by the clean-shaven, the decline has been steep and palpable. Since the days of Taft, much has altered, not necessarily for the better. News travels faster. Paparazzi have longer lenses. The campaign season seems to last longer than the presidential term of office. Honey Boo Boo exists. And just as surely as these evils crept into our consciousness, mustaches ceased being the hallmark of respectable men like presidents and chief justices and became the bailiwick of train robbers and dictators.

The demise of the Major-Party Mustache was the beginning of the end. Dewey was mocked. Now the upper lips of the men and women who strive for the nation’s highest office are undecorated. And, especially when confronted with an election that everyone insists is the Absolute Meanest and Worst and Lowest and Most Mendacious of All Time, one glances from smooth face to smooth face and begins to wonder whether correlation implies causation. At times like this, one cannot help wishing for a new Teddy Roosevelt — or, failing that, a Rutherford B. Hayes — to come roaring in to lift the nation from the muck. For our position is dire.

With the ends of mustache comes wax, occasionally. But with the end of mustaches comes the end of civility. With the end of mustaches comes the end of civilization.

You may notice that when Rome fell, its final emperor had no mustache or beard of any kind.

Thank heavens for those who still strive to preserve this ancient institution. Sure, the mustache has been seized and perverted by hipsters. But better irony than extinction.

And we still have the chance to vote for a Mustached American.

On Tuesday, the American Mustache Institute, one of my favorite things that exists in the world, opened voting for its annual Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Award.

Among the nominees are firefighters, actors, genome researchers and one gentleman named Terry.

In the time of year when many Americans grow disillusioned with the electoral process, the Goulet Award offers a beacon of hope. Your vote does count, from now until Oct. 27. You need show no ID. You need watch not a single negative ad. All you need to do is support someone with a mustache — something the present electoral cycle offers sadly few occasions to do.

Vote now! Vote early! Vote often! All the information you need is on the ballot. And the candidates all have mustaches. It’s a refreshing change.