For my wife and I, the neverending dumpster fire of the 2016 presidential election is over. Like 67,000 other residents of Harris County, we took to the early voting polls the day they opened and put this mess behind us as we discharged our sacred civic obligation. All that’s left is getting hammered on November 8 and hopefully waking up hungover in a saner universe.
Between now and then, though, I’m going to do a little celebrating over the simple fact that I’ve played my inning and gone to the showers. Here are ten things that are no longer my bloody problem in this election cycle.
10. Explaining to People Fictional Movies are Not Documentaries
If I had a nickel for every Republican who told me to watch 13 Hours to get the “real” story of Benghazi it would probably be just enough to fill a gym sock I could beat them Negan-style with. The same is true for frustrated Bernie Sanders fans sending me links to War Dogs clips so I’ll “wake up” regarding Hillary Clinton. It should go without saying in this day and age that Hollywood’s based-on-a-true-story schtick is just marketing for entertainment, not the imparting of nuanced, solid information. Learn the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Speaking of non-fiction…
9. Explaining that Selective Editing is a Thing
YouTube can be a wonderful means of delivering information, but it’s also a trap for the incredibly gullible who don’t seem to understand that people do actually edit footage to give it a different meaning than was originally intended, or leave out important context or background information. Not every person who makes a shiny moving picture thing is a paragon of truth. Please think responsibly.
8. Hearing About Another Person’s Conscience
For 18 months friends, acquaintances and total strangers have gone out of their way to explain to me how their souls are too pure to vote for a certain candidate, and it’s just slightly less annoying to listen to than a stoned friend telling you about a dream they had. No one cares about your conscience, and my guess is that if you can’t stop harping about how good yours is, it probably sucks at its job in practice.
7. Knowing Anything About Vermont
I couldn’t pick Vermont out of a map if my own life was the prize, but I’ve had to type it hundreds of times since Sanders entered the race. Guys, I’m from Texas, and we don’t know or give a fig about any of y’all’s tiny Yankee state stuff. Four times as many people visited the Rodeo here this year as live in the whole state of Vermont. Congratulations on your year of national spotlight, but I’m done now.
6. Giving Remedial Civics Lessons
This year I have had to explain basic electoral procedures, the Electoral College, the primary system, how to register to vote, and where to vote to Rassilon knows how many grown people. On Monday I was even answering questions from strangers while in line to vote. All this in a world where Google exists and lives in an electronic device we always carry with us. Being the “political” friend is almost worse than being the friend who is good with computers when it comes to easily searchable information others want from you.
5. Acknowledging Breitbart Exists
I have my own personal heat with Breitbart, but ever since Milo Yiannopoulos got hurled out of Twitter like a Frisbee with a stupid haircut I’ve been able to blissfully pretend they disappeared from the Internet. Then Donald Trump hired Breitbart’s Steve Bannon to run his campaign, and I’ve been forced to watch every bit of the worst of alt-right culture get shoved right into America’s eyeballs. I look forward to going back to an orgasmic ignorance.
4. Discovering Who I Know That is a Screaming Bigot
This election cycle has contributed more than 300 people to my various social media block lists, and I lost something like two dozen real life friends on both the right and the left. It was disturbing how many people were perfectly happy to let their hate openly hang out the second a major political figure made it look like an okay thing to do. Now hopefully they can go back to quietly muttering about all lives mattering under their breath, and the adults can get on with real work.
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3. Knowing the Meaning of Every Terrible Thing
This has got to be the most memetic election in history, and keeping track of bad hombres and cartoon racist frogs was a necessity in commenting on the whole shebang. I don’t what the next big pussy-grabbing moment will be between now and November 8, and I don’t have to know when it happens. It can just be another weird thing angry children yell at each other without my input.
2. Consoling Foreign Friends
I have friends all over the English-speaking world, and it seems like every one of them has left at least one frantic PM on my Facebook in the middle of the night asking me if World War III is imminent (people in Europe asking Americans about starting World Wars seems a little hypocritical to me, by the way). And while I cannot assure anyone that America won’t be bombing someone for the next four years, I can tell them I did all I could to keep a man with very dangerous ideas about nuclear weapons away from a position to use them.
1. Dealing Politely With Kooks
As the race comes to a close the last and most hardcore of the conspiracy-minded will shout their nonsense into the void as loud as they can because they know damn well no one is going to be listening to their tin foil hat stuff after the election concludes. I generally try to derail these people politely. Not for their own benefit. Most of them are nuttier than squirrel doo, but sometimes more reasonable people are on the sidelines watching and I want to make sure they know which side in a conversation actually knows what it’s talking about. No more, though. I put in my hours on that front, and now I’m going to have a drink and let the last of this screwy process be someone else’s circus.
Jef's collection of stories about vampires and drive-thru churches, The Rook Circle, is available now.