Here’s something to celebrate: One year from now, the presidential election of 2020 will be over. Sure, there may be a little unpleasantness between now and then, but just think of the relief coming our collective way 12 months hence. Of course, depending on who wins the race (I was going to say gets the most votes, but then you have to choose popular or electoral), about half the country is going to be ecstatic and the other half down in the dumps. But at least it’ll all be over. That is, until the next cycle begins (most likely immediately after Inauguration Day 2021).
All of us will have front-row seats to the spectacle that is the American style of campaigning, with knowledge of the recent past and undoubtedly privy to much more information than we really care to know about each and every candidate. News outlets of all persuasions will provide us with myriad facts, figures, statistics and, alas, their own personal thoughts on which contenders deserve our votes.
We the People will most likely have had quite enough of our current political process well before Election Day. But what if you were going into 2020 knowing nothing about the last, say, 25 years. Suppose someone has been in a Rip Van Winkle kind of sleep and suddenly wakes up early next year just as the primary season is really getting ramped up. He/She would have a lot to take in before casting a ballot. I wonder if an initial conversation might go like this:
RIP: What year did you say this is?
FRIEND: 2020. You’ve been asleep since 1995.
RIP: Well, that would explain this knee-length hair and beard. So, tell me, what did I miss?
FRIEND: Where should I begin?
RIP: How about the White House?
FRIEND: OK. We elected our first black president.
RIP: I already knew that. Bill Clinton was president when I fell asleep.
FRIEND: No, no, I mean a for-real black guy. Barack Obama.
RIP: What the heck is a Barack Obama?
FRIEND: Actually, his full name is Barack Hussein Obama.
RIP: Hussein? As in Saddam Hussein? Don’t tell me we lost a war to that clown. We’re still the United States, aren’t we?
FRIEND: Calm down. We got Saddam. Barack was a senator from Illinois. Served two terms. Right after Bush.
RIP: George ran again?
FRIEND: Oh, no, sorry. Not that Bush. His son, also named George. They called each other 41 and 43.
RIP: So, who’s president now?
FRIEND: Uh, Donald Trump.
RIP: Donald Trump? As in Trump Tower?
RIP: How did that happen? Who’d he run against?
FRIEND: Hillary Clinton.
RIP: Bill’s wife?
RIP: I bet that was interesting.
FRIEND: To say the least.
RIP: So, Trump must be a Republican.
FRIEND: He is. And he’s running again this year.
RIP: Against who? Hillary again?
FRIEND: That hasn’t been decided yet. But you never know. Lots of Democrats are candidates. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden ...
RIP: Joe Biden? Is he still alive?
FRIEND: Yep. Those three and a dozen or so others are trying to get the nomination.
RIP: OK. What’s the big issue now?
FRIEND: Well, besides wanting to impeach Trump, pretty much all the Ds want a Medicare-for-all health plan.
RIP: Wouldn’t that be expensive?
FRIEND: One price tag is $52 trillion.
RIP: Trillion? With a “T”?
FRIEND: You got it.
RIP: Oh, man, I bet elderly people don’t like that. Unless that price includes a rebate.
FRIEND: Rebate? Whattaya mean?
RIP: Well, you said Medicare for all, right?
RIP: So, that means 20-year-olds just starting out in the working world get the same coverage as 65-year-olds.
FRIEND: Yeah, I guess so.
RIP: But 65-year-olds have paid Medicare taxes for 40 years or more. Shouldn’t they get a rebate? Figure maybe $1500 a year for 40 years. I’m thinking everybody over 65 is entitled to an $60,000 check. Right?
FRIEND: I don’t think it works that way.
RIP: Why not?
FRIEND: Beats me.
RIP: What else is on the table?
FRIEND: Uh, free college, open borders, trade and tariffs, climate change, and a few others.
RIP: Sounds like $52 trillion is just the beginning.
FRIEND: For some. But, to be fair, everybody in Washington likes to spend money.
RIP: Well, of course they do. It isn’t their money.
FRIEND: I guess that’s why we have elections. To decide how to divvy up the dollars.
RIP: So basically politics hasn’t really changed in 25 years.
FRIEND: I guess you could say that.
RIP: Great. I’m going back to sleep. Wake me when it’s over.