The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 18, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

The future

By the time you see this, you'll know who has won the presidential election. I write my columns a few days before you read them, so imagine me as I am now: marooned in the past, where this not insignificant part of the fate of our planet has yet to be decided; ignorant as to whether The Greatest Nation on Earth™ will avert disaster or plunge headlong into it. (You and I are basically living in two different universes, communicating via time-traveling/inter-dimensional newsprint; always there is a gulf between us, but never larger than right now, perhaps.) For my part, here's how I imagine you in the future, assuming that for some reason you share all my general feelings and opinions about the world...

If Barack Obama won: relieved; hopeful; experiencing the occasional prick of ecstasy; curious as to what Obama actually is going to do in his second term; vaguely annoyed that you spent the past year anxiously reading articles about some Republican clown just because the self-serving media manipulated you into thinking that Mitt Romney actually had a chance to win; semi-contemptuous of me, clearly a dupe, for being so unsure about the (now obvious) outcome of the election as to write an article expressing my (now irrelevant) anxieties and doubts; wondering whether now I'll stop writing about politics; already dreading 2016.

If Mitt Romney won: despairing; angry; shocked (though maybe by now you've managed to come to the conclusion that this was inevitable and that we were all fools for not seeing it); fearful that we're going to end up in a war with Iran, or maybe even with some totally random country you haven't heard of yet; annoyed; just about ready to give up on the world and become the kind of cynical, hedonistic, law-breaking, Charlie Sheen-esque alcoholic who will either be indifferent or even sort of enjoy it when the nation sinks into dystopia (if this doesn't describe you already); fearful that a couple Supreme Court justices will drop dead or whatever and Roe v. Wade will be overturned, (or maybe women will just be enslaved completely!) trying hopelessly to convince yourself that, as president, Romney will transform back into the moderate he was in Massachusetts, and hey, he at least seems more competent than Bush?

Are you jealous of my innocence; angry at me for not having done more to prevent this before it was too late; possibly not reading this at all, as the written word has already been abolished due to concerns that it might inspire the poor to revolt against their plutocrat overlords.

I guess right now I'm just idly pondering those moments in which the course of human history meets a "fork in the road" and, usually for slightly stupid reasons, chooses one direction or the other, and millions of lives are affected.

The world-weary view that the only changes that we as voters can make are cosmetic and that Washington is basically set on whichever horrible path it has already secretly chosen - this probably is a necessary comfort  for some people; the real chaos is just too much to contemplate. Remember when Al Gore lost to George W. Bush - because Middle America didn't like his personality, or because 500 too many Floridians felt comfortable enough to "express their true beliefs" more specifically by voting for Nader, or because of some other vague thing like "moral values" - and, as a result, a few hundred thousand Iraqis died, along with thousands of American soldiers? Believe it or not, these were all people whose lives were just as important as yours or mine, and they all had dreams and loves and friends and family, and now they're all dead because George W. Bush was the guy America wanted to have a beer with. Mindboggling.

"What would have happened?" is the most frustrating question in human life. The important thing, I guess, is for us to try our hardest to make decisions that will lead us to a place where we won't feel compelled to ask it - it's a question borne of anguish, usually. "What will happen?" is the next most frustrating question.
Please, Future, be a place I want to live in.

Tagged: Election