Election reflections and why writers make terrible spies
I can’t recall if it was from a poly-sci teacher or a bumper-sticker that I gleaned “Voting is like muscle – use it or lose it.” True, rights can atrophy from neglect, so they must regularly be exercised. Just probably not all at once. Like, don’t combine your rights to free speech and to bear arms by writing someone’s name on a bullet. It tends to weird them out.
But do vote. But not for me. You see, I’m more appointable than electable. I like to pretend this is akin to being more lovable than likeable, you know, once you get to know me. And if you knew me, you’d never vote for me. But you can make an appointment anytime.
In school, I never ran for “class president” since I was never in class and I assumed that was a prerequisite, being half of the job title and all. The ancillary offices like Homecoming King and Prom King weren’t in my purview either.
I was an underclassman with dyed black hair and a leather jacket, which, in those pre-Columbine, pre-Oklahoma City days, was tantamount to domestic terrorism in rural suburbia. Also, I inhaled before it was back in fashion (was it ever out?) and had already begun harvesting the boneyard of indiscretions that make my closet look like the Catacombs of Paris.
Fortunately, for my prospective opponents, I have no political ambitions. Even if I found my own name on the ballot, the only reason I’d check it is if they spelled it wrong. Besides, the notion of campaigning makes me squeamish.
This is probably because I only began using the word in sixth grade during our Dungeons & Dragons “campaigns” at lunch in the library, casting icosahedron dice over Fruit Roll-ups.
Interestingly, a few years later, I discovered original Mad Man David Ogilvy’s seminal tome, “Ogilvy on Advertising,” and my understanding of “campaign” was contorted to fit the sparkling world of Madison Avenue and such Ogilvian advice as, “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” I’ve not been able to have a serious thought since. Except maybe this one: If you combine role-playing games and advertising, you pretty much end up with politics.
All of the above notwithstanding, it is quite convenient knowing politicians. I don’t mind being along for the ride, especially when it’s on an air-conditioned bus or business class air. You drink, you get chummy, y’all get a little dirt on each other and if your candidate wins, you might land a classy appointment that keeps you safely out of the loop somewhere (this is how I became Lifestyle Ambassador to Sonoma County).
There once was a time when writers and artists could get themselves installed as “cultural attachés” to foreign countries. Of course, they were usually spies who used the creative life as a cover, which is genius, really, because actual writers would be terrible spies. Besides the dipsomania, regular mania and general dippiness, most writers can’t keep a secret for more than half an hour. And the ones who can keep a secret usually forget where they’ve kept it.
Others misguidedly think that every intrigue that crosses their frontal lobes is their diplomatic passport to Bestselleristan. And another political roman à clef dies unfinished on a hard-drive.
So, barring any post-Election Day appointments as Special Cultural Envoy to Rohnert Park or something, I’ll stave off atrophy by exercising freedom of the press (better than a bench press) until I’m told I’ve made a right a wrong. Then I’ll press harder.
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Vote for Daedalus Howell, early and often, at DHowell.com.