“And how many more of these stinking, double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the at least 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils?”
—Hunter S. Thompson in “Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72”**
Well I’ll be a good goddam.
If this is a tribute, I make it begrudgingly. To behold the 2016 presidential election on this day in August, without a nod toward its obvious parallels to the ’72 presidential election, is to miss a bone-white manifestation of that congenital atavism intrinsic to our beloved, oxygen-sucking race. Solzhenitsyn said something to this effect. Škvorecký, maybe? You know: Our repeated mistakes can be distinguished only by their variations . . .
Having joined this experiment a good fifteen years and five months after Richard Nixon’s re-election, I must rely on a close and ongoing study of key accounts from Tricky Dick Richard’s time if I have any chance of contextualizing it. There is still so much work to do. No ignoring the terrific clarity that comes with historical hindsight, either, of which I consider myself a fortunate beneficiary. With that in mind, three decades on planet earth seems like more than enough playing time to chop a pure Colombian kilo of good old American cynicism down to a few good snorts.
What better medicine for Campaign Trail 2016?
And in the spirit of true Americanism, I will use a nickel-plated knife to break down the brick. But my hands are shaky these days, so if I miss the mark, blame it on “Campaign Bloat,” that savage condition brought on by a full year of election politics. Debates. Media pulse. I consumed it all.
So do forgive me.
I am sick.