Monday editor Armin Rosen has election news for those of you who haven’t spent the past four days sleeping next to a Kentucky offramp.
I believe it was Winston Churchill who called democracy the “worst form of government on earth, except for all those others that have been tried.” Well bollocks to you, Winnie. An election-eve barnstorm of our great land reveals that while mob rule does have some pretty obvious hang-ups ($8 packs of American Spirit, anyone?), it’s capable of producing an oddity or two–correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure Belarus doesn’t have candidates drunkenly pillorying puppet likenesses of their opposition.
CALIFORNIA: Jack Abramoff’s work representing Indian tribes made him an American hero, and it’s great to see that courageous activists are following in his footsteps. Besides–Casinos on Indian reservations mean more money for schools and firefighters. And you support schools and firefighters, don’t you?
NEW JERSEY: Forget property taxes, rampant crime, pollution, a long-standing reputation as America’s armpit: the biggest election-year issue coming out of the Garden State is this horrifying ad from Republican New Jersey state Senator Gerry Cardinale. Making possibly racist accusations that your opponent has ties to terrorists is one thing, but that sock puppet was really uncalled for. And if you’ll allow me a brief exercise in comparative political puppetry: though crude, the Gavin Newsom puppet produced some undeniably brutal satire. Meanwhile, Cardinale’s obnoxious, purple-coiffed duck smacks of desperation–I’m no expert on New Jersey politics, but just as a general rule, election-week TV ads centered on a raggedy yellow hand-puppet are good indication that you’re running out of ideas.
MARYLAND: What’s that? A contested election in the politically homogenous, left-wing utopia of Takoma Park? Well I’ll be damned. This calls for an investigation! Bowers, it seems, is anti rent-control in a part of the country that’s only slightly more conservative than Berkley; Robinson likes recycling, local business and urban microfinance. I trust the Co-op has been abuzz with discussion over whether the right-leaning newcomer can play the spoiler to the older, carbon-hating establishment lefty, but somehow I think Marylanders have more important things to worry about.
AUSTRALIA: Right you are, commenters: Australia is not an American state! But it has apparently picked up some of the better aspects of American campaigning. Actually scratch that: if that sock puppet ad tells us anything, it’s that you would never find something this creative or this culturally aware in an American election.
KENTUCKY: Wrong! From the bluegrass state comes a masterpiece of short-form polemic, an ad so brazen, so full of chutzpah that I’m a little astounded it hasn’t gone viral. Indeed, this is belittling down to its most seemingly irrelevant details: the background snickering, the adorable cutaway shots, the beads of sweat pouring off of the title-character’s neckless, almost slug-like face; the girl’s forward, delightfully bitchy delivery (OK, that’s totally unfair. There’s no way she knew what she was getting herself in to)–this ad is a revelation, an apotheosis, the perfection of its form. I donÃƒÂ¯Ã‚Â¿Ã‚Â½t know much about Ernie Fletcher, but he’d sure have my vote.
And last: VIRGINIA: The Commonwealth’s northern counties are getting bluer by the year, and a sweep in the Potomac region could turn Virginia into a swing state by next year’s elections. But don’t let that stop you from staying in on Tuesday, Virginians. This election is so momentous that not even C-SPAN dare mention it on its front page. Next year, right?