And thus, after billions of dollars spent on attack ads, infinite reams of statistical analysis and countless hours of inane punditry, the American festival of Democracy has reached its climax, with a resounding vote for… the gridlocked status quo. Nothing has changed. Barack Obama remains president, the Democrats cling on to their senate majority, and the Republicans keep control of the house. Some pundits, still smarting about their failed predictions of a ‘Romney landslide’ , are now calling for ‘greater bipartisanship’ and ‘cross-party unity’. Other pundits postulated that Obama might finally start tackling climate change after the election, as he no longer has to worry about alienating Virginian hill gnomes in coal eating communities. But even if Obama does confront the issue directly, he will need to negotiate with Republicans who believe that extreme weather events are caused by Islamo-Atheist Lesbian peadophiles.
Faced with a choice between a Mormon mannequin with a rictus grin and a burnt out liberal icon with a predilection for drone attacks, the international community opted to support the latter. For months it felt as if this moment genuinely mattered, if only because control of the world’s largest arsenal of military and economic mayhem could fall back into the hands of a party of xenophobic anti-masturbation activists. A dark cloud of panic clouded our better judgment as we all suddenly became fascinated by the opinions of lobotomised beauticians from Ohio.
“… all that is left is a gnawing emptiness…”
But now that the whole charade has ended, all that is left is a gnawing emptiness and a vague sense that we have been swindled. Suddenly, the obsessive analysis of swing states that we all indulged in under the bed sheets feels futile and sordid. We lapped up the banal observations of the other pundits slavishly, we offered our own recycled punditry, all the while trying to distract ourselves from the yawning chasm of meaninglessness opening up beneath us.
Meanwhile in China, the Communist party shows how to maintain the status quo far more cheaply and effectively, by purging dissident members and accusing their wives of murder, then quietly swapping one personality free leader for another. Perhaps they’re onto something. At least their leaders don’t pretend to be able to relate to their subjects. If the choice in this election was between numbness and abject despair, then perhaps the former is preferable. I only wish I’d come to this realisation earlier so that I could have skipped the electoral college analysis and gone straight for the valium. We have all been cheapened by this spectacle.