Florida’s candidates for governor, Itchy and Scratchy, debated on stage in Fort Pierce Monday, in an event that had denizens of the state muttering, “Oh, is that on?” before turning to a repeat of “Bones.”
Don’t get me wrong. Debates are essential opportunities for candidates to hash out issues in front of voters. But tell me. Have debates gotten more painful to watch? Why was the crowd screaming like in the fourth quarter of a Bucs game? Moderator Liz Quirantes, after telling The Legend of Charlie Crist’s Fan and getting in a few questions, begged the audience to stop hooting, saying “please” many times. She said please!
Reader. The people did not stop screaming. They only got louder, then Ron DeSantis called his opponent a “worn out old donkey” and Crist said “That’s not true, and you know it” so many times we lost count. Then, NBC cut immediately to “The Voice,” because, honestly, what’s the difference? It can feel more democratic to watch Gwen Stefani coach a singer through that ditty from “The Breakfast Club” than to participate in American politics.
Yes, this sounds cynical, but so be it. If we’re going full “Idiocracy” anyway, let’s get the candidates in a Costco on Sample Saturday to see who can unload the most cheese cubes before the timer buzzes. It would feel more intellectually honest!
I have a few salient questions that didn’t get covered in the allotted hour. Respectfully, sirs, for your consideration:
Candidates, first of all, how dare you? Interpret this question how you will.
Candidates. Tell the truth. Are there still undecided voters out there? I know shades of gray exist and no party is a monolith. I know moderates are wandering around with big, sad eyes saying, “Are you my mother?” to every passing hound dog, while progressives shake an alms cup like the animated Robin Hood fox in search of any candidate who wasn’t once a Republican. But candidates, isn’t nuance dead? Haven’t all major elections in the past, oh, eight years, been tantamount to choosing between face tattoo or no face tattoo?
Candidates, is it still OK to punch Nazis? Because I’m really starting to wonder.
Candidates, will our new dystopia be more Ray Bradbury or Margaret Atwood? I want to pack the right clothes in my bug out kit.
Candidates, what can be done about this persistent feeling of despair? It’s like… I want to sleep all the time, but I’m not tired? But I am tired? Why does the arrival of news daily make me regress into a tiny glass menagerie inside my soul? Why does engaging in the political process feel so hopeless, like the ecosystem is controlled by a few puppeteers with private jets and waxed mustaches who will change the rules to Calvinball anyway if the outcome isn’t to their satisfaction? Actual Bond villains, candidates, turning me against my neighbors with whom I can otherwise have a perfectly reasonable conversations about camp chair brands and string lights. Yes, yes, I know, vote. I’m going to vote! But haven’t we seen that a governor can just remove someone fairly voted into office if the mood strikes, like when one gets a wild urge for curtain bangs? Is this all there is? To witness a continued disregard for individuality and civility and, honestly, our tax money, which can apparently be used to ship actual human beings around the country like Fed Ex packages? And then at the end of the day, we go on TikTok and numb out with makeup tutorials until it’s 2 a.m. and the whole process starts again when the alarm goes off and we mindlessly reach for phones before our feet have even touched the cold, unfeeling floor? You each have 30 seconds to answer.
Candidates. Candidates? Are you… OK, no. They’re gone.
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