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Hey, it’s Hanging Chad. Remember me?

Stephanie Hayes | As we approach another presidential election, Chad asks for a moment of your time.

Hey. How’s it “hanging”?

You used to love that joke, and… oh, you don’t remember me? No worries. I’m Chad. Right, Hanging Chad. No, it’s fine. I’m probably in your phone as "do not pick up,” which is why you haven’t returned my calls. We haven’t seen each other in… what, 20 years?

Listen. I’ve been playing that Adele song where she confronts her past, and well. I wish I could say I’m happy to see you move on. But my therapist has been talking about radical honesty, so here goes.

Since the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida, I’ve been described as “emotionally detached.” The whole point is I’m not detached. I hang from the ballot by one corner. People have confused me with my friends Pregnant Chad, Swinging Chad, Dimpled Chad and Tri Chad (attached to the ballot at all three corners — he always liked attention). We were quite a crew back then, before we were bounced out like the original members of Destiny’s Child.

I was all anyone talked about, especially in Florida. I found myself drunk with power, untouchable, yet touched by so many. They stared at me, and then looked closer, with magnifying glasses. They poured me into bowls, the white paper Skittles of democracy.

Did I have it in the bag for one candidate? People ask all the time, but my lawyer would rather I not say. I’m still getting letters from George W. Bush and Al Gore, or at least people claiming to be them on Facebook. And do not get me started on Pat Buchanan.

The 2000 election rested in my divots. Now, people consider me the Aaron Burr of cardstock, a faceless, one-dimensional villain. They should have blamed Votomatic, the machine that made me “hang” in the first place. In this country, we would rather punish The Chad than the systems that made The Chad.

I am lost to the rapid news cycle, what with its kibble of flotillas and high-dollar haircuts. I do not know what a TikTok is. And although the Votomatic is retired (Boca, I heard), you’d think by now we’d be voting via the implant in our spinal cord.

But as we gird for another election sure to be hotly contested, attention is focused on the — wait for it — United States Postal Service. Didn’t see that coming. In 2020, the celeb everyone will love to hate might be a friendly letter carrier in navy blue shorts.

Anyway, what’s done is done. All I ask is that, as you lie awake at 2:30 a.m. scrolling your phone for the next link that will make you feel less alone, think of your old friend, Chad. Know I am fine. I moved in with Palm Beach County’s Butterfly Ballot, and we have a family of three-hole punches.

What I want you to remember is that this — all of this — is fleeting. While the tides feel as though they cannot possibly grow bigger, know that the water will turn to the winds, that change is the only guarantee, and that we all bow to the altar of time.

Chad, out.

Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

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