Today is at once one of my favorite and most hated days of any calendar year. The first Tuesday following the first Monday in November can mean but one thing to an American with any sense of civic responsibility: Election Day.
I love Election Day because I consider it a wondrous thing that after thousands of years of barbaric, bloody recorded history, every year the fortunate citizens of the United States have the opportunity to elect a mostly new government without a single knife blade, bullet, or beheading. It’s actually kind of a miracle to think that a document written by a handful of very different men hundreds of years ago still oversees the peaceful transition of political power to this today.
With that said, though, I usually feel very much like I need a long, hot shower every year to wash away the election muck. The partisanship of our two-party systems often leads to such close-mindedness, bitter rhetoric, and vitriolic half-true propaganda that I can barely stomach voting for anyone. It’s a little like an unregulated carnival game: step right up, boys and girls, pick a guy, any guy; try to pick the least idiotic person on the ballot.
Ultimately, nobody wins but the carney.
We like to think that such messiness is a modern creation; that the elections of our forefathers were gentlemanly affairs full of good manners and pleasant discourse. But that’s a load a nonsense, really. US politics has been a nasty, bitter business since the days of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Ironically, Chinese politics aren’t nearly as messy. So maybe we shouldn’t complain too much. And every now and then, maybe instead of whining we should stop to consider how lucky we are to have the freedom to complain.
At any rate, instead of going on and on about how much I’d prefer politics to be more like a couple of reserved English men discussing the weather over tea (“Pip, pip, good man, jolly windy today!”, “Indeed, good fellow, quite right. Milk?”), I figured it might be a good day to mention something that gives me a similar feeling: tossing the two week-old leftovers out of the fridge.
I went through the exercise yesterday of chucking each and every unrecognizable mass of fuzzy brownish goo wrapped in cling film, aluminum foil or entombed in a reusable plastic container. Entire colonies of previously undocumented organisms cried out in horror as they slid with a sickening splut into the garbage disposal and faced the whirring blades of destruction. And yes, I laughed the Maniacal Laugh of Evil while I did it. The more I went, “Mwah-hahaha!” the less I caught of any odors.
On the other hand, I’m afraid I threw out some month-old spaghetti that was not only self-aware, but was close solving word hunger using Jujyfruits, tomato juice, and recycled newspaper.
Sadly, years ago, I would have happily nuked and consumed leftover foods that had lived in my refrigerator long enough to see me make more than one month’s rent payment. Then again, this was before I met the Puddinette and she educated me to the fact that it’s unreasonable for a pair of twenty-something bachelors to live on $60 dollars worth of groceries for a quarter of a year. Still, I’ll cheerfully claim that our bachelor fridge was somehow…um…better…at long-term food preservation.
Hey, I’m still alive; a little pre-processed penicillin never hurt anyone.
So, for me, Election Day here in the US seems an awful lot like the occasional cleaning of the fridge. Both are terribly frightening experiences that are repulsive to four of the five senses (I pray no one is tasting either the politicians or the ancient leftovers). With either task, though, when the job is done and the smoke clears, you’re left with a clean slate and hopeful future.
And then the next day you can get right back to screwing it all up.