I am an Independent. I voted for Barack Obama, and in 2004 I voted for George W. Bush. In 2000 I voted for Al Gore. I switch my vote every presidential election, and as a policy, half the people I vote for are Democrats and the other half are Republicans. If there are an odd number of candidates on the ballot, I will vote for a Libertarian or one of those other joke parties, all so that I can continue to be what they call "fiercely independent." I like being called that because in other aspects of my life, I am a "gelatinous blob of wussiness." That is what my wife calls me when I cannot decide which restaurant to go to, or what to order when I get there, or which pants to put on, or what to tell a barber when he asks, "What'll it be today, Jerry?", or what movie to rent, or whether to get a Ford or a Chevy, or whether to go to Home Depot or Lowe's, or ... well, maybe now you can see why I truly enjoy being called "fiercely independent" by politicians, even if they are just trying to butter me up for my vote.
However, in 2008, due to a mathematical miscalculation, I voted for more Democrats than Republicans, so this year I am obliged to make up for it by voting for more Republicans than Democrats. I must do this if I want to remain fiercely independent. Which I do. The trouble is, I did not keep up with politics since the last election because I was concentrating on other stuff, like fantasy football and Dancing With the Stars. Only lately have I been paying attention, and it looks to me that the Republican party has slipped through what I call "the Crazy Crack." There is that Paladino nut in New York e-mailing pictures of a horse doing it to a non-horse woman. Or what about that O'Donnell woman in Delaware? Does she really believe anything she says? And there's the Angle woman in Nevada acting like a Saturday Night Live character, or that Rand Paul in Kentucky and the Nazi-dresser-upper in Ohio and the twitchy Robertson guy from Oregon who goes around calling himself a scientist.
Mr. Cope, what is going on? When did they start talking about doing away with Social Security and public schools, minimum wage and making girls who have been raped have the baby and all sorts of crazy, crazy, crazy stuff? Where did these creepy people come from and most importantly, how can a political party even be taken seriously when it is so full of creeps like these? Also, do you think I could still be considered fiercely independent if I decided the Republicans were just too creepy and crazy to vote for this year?
I share your concern, yet it is not up to me to say if your slavish commitment to that fierce independence of yours would excuse you for helping put such demented fringies in power.
I can tell you, though, from whence these people have come, and I believe I am the only one who has discovered their deepest secret. Surely, you are aware that the scariest of them floated to the surface of the Tea Party movement, and I have to assume you have not been so oblivious that you don't know the Tea Party is a wholly fabricated phenomenon that popped up within the Republican party while you were fiddling with your distractions. Astute observers will note that there are elements within the Tea Party of everything from the old John Birch Society to Jerry Falwell's Religious Right, with a generous sprinkling of white supremacism, Apocalyptic fervor, fascist nostalgia and unabashed disdain for anything more intellectually or culturally refined than a Carl's Jr. hamburger commercial. And you are entirely right: The candidates fielded by the Tea Party are both creepy and crazy. In fact, the crazier a candidate talks, the farther he or she goes within Tea Party circles.
All of which led me to ask: From what Lovecraftian grotto could so many bactrian mutants have crawled? My instincts told me there was more to their histories than mere ideological atrophy, promoted and financed by corporate puppet masters such as the grim Koch brothers and that oily Texas huckster, Dick Armey.
Then, thumbing through the TV listings for something Halloweeny to watch, I stumbled across the answer. Suddenly, I knew where I'd seen these people before--or at least their on-screen representations. Sharron Angle, Rand Paul, O'Donnell, Paladino, the Ohio Nazi, the Connecticut wrestling maven ... all of them ... they are the Children of the Corn, all grown up and passing themselves off as normal.
Remember Children of the Corn? The Stephen King chiller about twisted fundamentalist kids who eliminated all the adults in their community with sharp farm implements and worshipped "He Who Walks Behind the Rows"? What you may not realize is that the story and ensuing movies were based on events that might well have happened, had certain criteria of a factual nature been satisfied. And it's obvious to me that it must have happened, if only on the evidence of the presence among us of these twisted, fundamentalist zealots who are now what passes for adults in their community, yet still speak like wholly self-educated children.
I even have a suspicion as to who "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" may be, only it is not a "He," and these days, she prefers to call herself "Momma Grizzly."
I repeat, it is a decision you must make on your own, whether to squelch your fierce independence for this election cycle, or go GOP and subject our nation to the horrors of Tea Party governance. But when the scythes and hoes come out, don't say I didn't warn you.