Election Has Become Theater Of The Absurd


Because I have the strength of character to avoid political controversy in what is supposed to be a humor column, I will wisely refrain from commenting on this year’s presidential election.

April Fool!

Oh, who can avoid it? Even those who revere and treasure our country’s unique political system have to admit that this year’s mess is beyond entertaining — it’s practically theater! Theater of the absurd.

My mother worries because, “America votes for more than the president of our own country. We’re voting for a leader of the world!”

It’s true. Poor world.

My husband ran for office in Wellington a long while back, and that entailed him hiring a consultant. Here’s what we learned: that a candidate receives 10 percent of the vote from people who simply don’t want the other candidate, and that another 10 percent goes to whomever’s name is alphabetically listed on the ballot first (evidently apathy follows us right into the voting booth). So, a candidate is really working to sway the remaining 80 percent.

If there’s one good thing about this election, it’s that apathy appears to be at an all-time low. The general populace is pretty riled up already, and it’s only April. Two candidates, Clinton and Trump, appear to dominate the ratings.

Ratings. Let me explain that I’m not talking about any sort of political ranking, I’m talking about air time — on TV, on the radio, on the Internet. In a world where very large chunks of each day are devoted to monitoring these devices, we are bombarded from all sides with opinion, and it has come to pass as entertainment. And as the entertainment industry fights for market share, things have gotten Kardashian crazy. Everything has to be larger than life to get noticed at all.

(I’d like to take a moment here to praise the newspaper industry and its humble efforts to present both sides of a story with integrity born of back-breaking research and borderline non-partisanship, but who wants to read that?)

Instead, we have campaigns that are getting messier, more ridiculous and heavily laden with explosive rhetoric. America is a nation divided and the world at large is shaking its head so hard we are in danger of falling off our axis.

I guess battle lines are drawn with every election, but this one has so much conversation cluttering up the air waves that I worry we won’t be able to right ourselves once ballots are cast. As with arguments between friends, are things going to be said that will be regretted later? Are those involved sticking to facts and leaving name-calling out of it?

Ha! Any TV producer can tell you that facts don’t generate high ratings. You need an element of drama in there. In fact, the more drama the better. After all, the shows have their own ratings to protect.

Of course, we voters will remember that when we go to the polls in November. We will carefully separate the wheat from the chaff and put the most qualified person in office, knowing that this is the person who will best represent us on the world stage.

Trust me. At crunch time, voters will simply shake off this dramatic nonsense. We Americans have an innate ability to discern the facts and a complete disdain for fantasy — especially here in Florida, home of Walt Disney World.