Even weird people are normal, I mean, isn’t that why so many of you (though certainly not me) enjoyed watching the Osbournes? It wasn’t just because they were the polar opposite of the Osmond Family two decades earlier, but also because; despite all that obvious dysfunction they’re essentially just a shaky unit trying to get a grip, like the rest of us, right?
The guy who spends his every waking hour planning how he’s going to crash an Elle Fanning photo-shoot and carry her off in a laundry bag or the woman who steals someone else’s baby from the maternity ward, the bloke who swallows giant cockroaches for money or the one who has someone tattoo a hooded cobra around his erect penis ... they all daily make decisions about what ice-cream to buy, toothpaste to use or which contract is the right one for their Smartphone. They probably pay into a pension scheme and very likely worry about their health, their qualifications and skills level. What I’m trying to say is, they’re not just
weird, even if they do
sleep on a black velvet block and have a hogtied Korean exchange student hanging in the basement.
The banality that goes with weirdness is what caused me to ask myself today – while enjoying a tiny bowl of peach yoghurt – whether serial killers are more likely to vote Democrat or Republican. Take that cannibal cop, the one who had not only pulled the police files of the 100 or so suitably vulnerable women that he and his buddies intended to cook and eat, but even discussed how
he wanted to cook them and whether they should or should not be alive to share in at least part of the culinary adventure: is he a Romney kind of a guy, do you think, or does he reckon, like me, that Obama is probably going to keep more blue collar jobs in America? Is he fine with a bulimic deficit gobbling up most of the world’s credit, or would he sleep a little better with three zeroes knocked off the national debt? Does he cheer on a favourite team? Does he have a favourite TV show (apart from Grey’s Anatomy
of course) and what is his ideal dessert? Surely it wouldn’t be vanilla rice, but it might be something quite innocuous nonetheless. And are cannibals of the modern, western variety sticklers for etiquette? Do they dress for dinner? Can they tell me which fork to use for tripe?
I’m intrigued by the cannibal cop because he must have realized he was scuppering his chances for promotion at the very least, and yet here is a man not entirely devoid of professional ethics. He told his mates that he wasn’t prepared to rape the women he kidnapped. If that was their thing, so be it, but to his way of thinking, rape is not conduct becoming of a professional kidnapper. OK, this statement leaves most of us rather gob-smacked; after all, he’s going to EAT them, right? And anyhow, it seems a bit prissy, once you’ve galloped that far down the track to total spiritual annihilation, to suddenly shy at the last little fence. So I’m putting him down as a Tea Party Republican ... they’re good for a bit of lip service to principle just as they’re getting ready to divvy up the best cuts.
Which brings me to another strange thing: just as the vast apparatus of law enforcement folded one of its own in its harsh and inexorable embrace, just as everything came together – the computer records, the cell-phone taps, the live tip-off, the good footwork – in a perfect and efficient synergy to snare a band of cabinet horrors such as even the film industry can barely dream of ... meanwhile, somewhere on the other side of the country, thirty thousand people found themselves mysteriously erased from the voting register, while another ten thousand absentee ballots were compromised by a procedural error. The world’s greatest nation (I still believe the press copy) can’t seem to run an election without screwing at least one electoral district up.
Now it’s not as if there are a dozen horses in the race and the potential complexities of consensus politics and coalitions had to be considered, as is the case here in Europe. And when did we last mess up an election? Yet, once again, there are districts caught red-handed with antiquated polling technology and dodgy registration processes. And guess what, the missing voters and the discarded ballots are far more likely to be Democrats than Republicans. The areas with the vintage registration systems are poor districts whose voters are not naturally infatuated with billionaires, and absentee voters from overseas have a more international take on things, so they are slightly more likely to support the current diplomatic continuum.
A two-horse election is not a terribly difficult piece of administration. It should be transparent enough to be above such criticism. Sadly this is not the case. Where the 9-11 commission refused to ask the elephant-in-the-room question – cui bono – here the question asks and answers itself. Chairs are being moved on deck to ensure a victory the majority of US citizens do not feel entirely comfortable with. Maybe they can remember the Osmond Family and shudder to think of all that smarmy close harmony moving onto Pennsylvania Avenue.
Democracy may be Churchill’s best worst choice; it’s still the only choice we realistically have, which makes it worth saving. If the candidates were required by law to invest a significant part of their vast war chests in a neutrally approved upgrading of voter infrastructure, that would already be a good start, though unlikely to happen in my lifetime.
I used to think that almost any private company of real stature could do a better job of running a country than most political parties. To a certain degree I still do. I used to think we should simply vote on a choice of private sector contractor after a standard tendering process of leaping through a few hoops had been carried out to eliminate spurious and inexperienced candidates. But isn’t that in fact what an election already is? The parties are no longer based on any genuine beliefs or ideologies. They could just as easily be firms of lawyers, urban planning consultants or civil engineers. We should stop kidding ourselves that the best man wins. The one with the biggest dog wins and we know it’s the tail that does the wagging.
And as for international companies really doing a better job, now that Google has decided my language is Flemish, even though I live in the heart of the Francophone region of Belgium and my server is in Verviers, a town where only Arabic (and occasionally French) is spoken, I’m beginning to have my doubts. If the world’s most powerful mapping agency doesn’t have any real grasp of geography, what will their foreign policy be like? Perhaps we should go for the hair-gel candidate after all. At least, unlike the Google Guys and their horrible localization software, Romney’s not pretending to be an expert on anything much other than Michigan winters and the inevitability of the Second Coming in Missouri ... which could use a good boost right now, having recently lost oodles of TV revenue along with its now tarnished bellwether status as a swing state. Jesus re-loaded should push up the ratings a bit. So, come back Donny and Marie, all is forgiven. Especially Marie; because there’s more than tripe there I fancy, even if she is “leaving it all up to you-hoo-hoo”, Mitt.
Pass the ketchup.
© Edwin Drood
, November 2012
Detail of a relief on a marble sarcophagus from Crete. 2nd century AD.
Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Photo © David John