A voter enters a polling location to cast a ballot during the West Virginia Republican primary election in Huntington, W.Va., on Tuesday. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg)

EVERYWHERE, AMERICA — With the rise of candidates like Roy Moore in Alabama and Don Blankenship in West Virginia, who, after the Upper Big Branch mining disaster, which killed 29 people, was sentenced to 12 months in prison for willfully violating mine safety standards and who recently released an anti-McConnell ad talking about “China People,” Republican voters are finding themselves faced with a serious dilemma.

“On the one hand, Mr. Blankenship has said some pretty racist things,” commented one potential voter. “On the other hand, he did go to prison after all those miners died. So it’s a tossup.”

“This is like the opposite of that Roy Moore situation in Alabama,” Potential Voter’s wife noted. “He was very racist and also at times anti-Semitic, but he was too fond of minors. This works better out loud.”

Republican primary voters in many states now face what should be an easy choice between a relatively traditional, mainline candidate and a garbage bag filled with dead squirrels that has said many racist things and speaks warmly of President Trump. But — complicating this decision — the garbage bag full of squirrels has recently been accused or convicted of a serious crime. This has given hope to many establishment Republicans, who would be depressed at the prospect of forking hard-earned cash into the campaign coffers of an eldritch abomination cursed in many tongues and on many continents, whose name is death and whose face is a coil of writhing tentacles, if this abomination were not guaranteed to win in November.

“I hate to lose. So I’m gonna go out on a limb here and ask the people of West Virginia to make a wise decision and reject Blankenship! No more fumbles like Alabama. We need to win in November,” Donald Trump Jr. tweeted about Blankenship. His father followed suit shortly thereafter, urging people to Remember Alabama. “Don Blankenship, currently running for Senate, can’t win the General Election in your State…No way!”

“I understand why Xenophobe McTriangleShirtwaistFactoryDisaster is getting so much buzz in my home state,” said one Establishment Republican. “People are fed up with Washington. They want an outsider. But I just don’t think he can win in the general.”

Asked whether there were any principled reasons for objecting to this candidate, the Establishment Republican emitted a low, hollow laugh like the thump of a spade against a coffin where perhaps no one was buried.

“This party used to have class,” he observed. “We used to have subtext. Candidates who used racially tinged sesquipedalian epithets instead of these awful monosyllables. Now we have all these people running around with bullhorns shouting things that are better gently implied to a table of big donors at a dinner closed to the media where everyone is given three forks.”

“I am just nervous about who I will have to disavow strongly in the run-up to the primary, then begrudgingly funnel money to anyway,” commented another congressional leader.

Another, more optimistic Establishment Republican was excited to see what principle it turned out the party did not actually believe in. “With Trump, it turned out we were okay with nepotism, completely indifferent to financial responsibility and shady business dealings, couldn’t care less about respecting women, and placed no value whatsoever on expertise. With Roy Moore, it turned out that these Family Values had been much overstated. I can’t wait to see what else it turns out we’ve been paying lip service to for decades!”

“Usually I have to strain to listen for what I want to hear in the words of a nice gentleman in a seersucker suit,” one voter commented, “which is why Al Livesmatter and his outsider campaign are so refreshing. I don’t like that Al just finished serving a term in jail for pushing a school bus off a cliff, but I understand that everything the news reports is a lie, and we live in a Deep State conspiracy that can only be staved off by building additional Confederate monuments and stockpiling guns and gold, so — ”