It’s a race to the outside. Avoid the middle like the plague. The goal is to not be one with the pack. Even the most conservative of Republicans knows they have to move beyond the rock-solid, standard-bearer of the party line. Anybody who wants the nomination today has to show some flash, be a rebel, an iconoclast, wear a puffy shirt. Wild and wacky is the new name of the electioneering game.
Maybe it was the proliferation of reality shows that convinced Americans that real life should be entertaining, but this country now has the same relationship to traditional politics that brass rain gutters have to beachwear.
Which is totally okay because plenty of candidates are willing to do whatever it takes, to go so far to the outside they can’t even be seen due to the curvature of the earth. This time around, the presidential wannabees aren’t just declaring themselves outsiders, they’re tripping over each other to be anointed the outsidiest.
Political neophytes and novices and fledglings and beginners and probies and interns and fry cooks are all fine. Actual experience need not apply. Major Bowes would be proud: The Amateur Hour rises again. Which was an olden timey version of “America’s Got Talent,” back in the days when whether it did or not was debatable.
The only prerequisite a prospective office-seeker needs is a resume that fails to include a previous work address inside a capitol dome. Especially that big one on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Like radiation, exposure to “Inside the Beltway” is cumulative, and just as malignant. The longer a person embeds within the 202 area code, the less recognizable they become as homo sapiens. A mutated form of Stockholm Syndrome.
Something happens to people in D.C. The combination of exhibition and pageantry amongst historic edifices seems to cause an assimilation with these venerable institutions. A calcification. Until it’s difficult to tell the statuary from the elected representatives. The official diagnosis... Marble Poisoning.
The backlash to marble poisoning has been growing over time but recently has strengthened to a furious pace. Traditional politicians now have lower approval ratings than used car salesmen whose arms have been replaced with poisonous tentacles leaking green venom.
As evidenced by real estate developer and all around bombastic dude Donald Trump continuing to mesmerize the country with his patented brand of snake oil and bluster. The man is like a performing frog that sings off-key. A unique act perhaps, but how long before people get bored and move on to the ventriloquist cricket?
Then again, he’s not the only rookie making his bones in the bigs this time around. According to polls, the major winners in the 1st republican debate a couple weeks ago were the 300,000,000 U.S. citizens who neglected to watch. Hah.
Kidding. The big winners were non politicians- Doctor Ben Carson and CEO Carly Fiorina, hailed for their refreshing authenticity. Because they mouthed completely different cliches than what we’ve come to expect from the usual suspects. Yes, we’re seeing the rise of the authentic. With a commensurate loss of the competent. But hey, it’s a trade-off.
Just hope this passion for lack of experience doesn’t spread to other professions. Nobody wants to hear: “And now let’s meet your endocrinologist, who previously earned her living as a terrifically inventive pastry chef.”
Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed comic. Email Will at firstname.lastname@example.org