This Halloween sure was fun and spooky, eh? But now that it's over and done with, why is my television still trying to frighten me?
Once we hit November, I assumed all the scary shows would stop. But every time I channel flip, I'm greeted by one well-crafted monster story after another, each designed to remind us of an unspeakable horror that threatens our very way of life: Joni Whatshername. Or that Bruce guy. Or Mike and Cheri and Bruce and Bobby and Dave and I'm pretty sure there's something about an evil marionette in there, too, but I'm still kinda confused about the puppetry angle.
I'm an avid watcher of television, and what television says in no uncertain terms is that every candidate running for every office is a very bad person whom we should all be very afraid of. I have half a mind to spend this election day at home cowering in fear.
Polls open in hours, and all the candidates are rolling out expensive last minute ads to plead their case. There's just one problem: None of them are pleading THEIR case. Instead, they're just telling us how horrible and wrong their opponents are. When everybody's wrong, who's right? When did politics devolve into a non-stop diet of fear tactics?
Look, I get it. This is a mid-term election. It's not especially glamorous. It's a concert with a bunch of opening acts and no headliners. And maybe the only way to get people to the polls is by scaring their pants off with a cavalcade of attack ads warning us of a world where the "wrong" person wins.
It's a sound strategy. But it only works if we know who the "right" candidate is. I hardly know a thing about the platforms of anyone running this midterm. All I know is that Neil Anderson is an "extremist." Joni Ernst "isn't someone we can trust." Bruce Rauner "victimizes the elderly." Bobby Schilling wants to "take our jobs overseas." Cheri Bustos "profits from foreign investments." Pat Quinn is "under investigation." With Mariannette Miller-Meeks, "there's no happy ending."
Oh, and then there's my personal favorite from over in Iowa. Apparantly Bruce Braley once characterized Sen. Chuck Grassley as a "farmer," and Joni Ernst has the video to prove it. But her attack ad takes this normal video footage and adds an eerie green night-vision filter to it, making it look like ghost hunters just descended into some clandestine Democratic cabal instead of a boring mid-day fundraiser.
I simply refuse to believe that we are a nation of sheeple that requires a barrage of ads to make up our minds. This is why money really DOES win elections, because only the candidates with the deepest coffers can afford this ridiculousness.
I'm not a political writer. I'm the guy who writes about cats and Taylor Swift for a living. But I do have personal political leanings, and those leanings led me to one of the biggest mistakes of my life: a few years back, I donated some money to a political candidate.
It wasn't much. Over the course of the campaign, I made a total of three donations, adding up to less than $100 total. But it's haunted me for years now. If you think the political ads on TV are overkill, you should see the ones I get now that they have my e-mail address.
Every day, my inbox is full of requests for money. Over the past SEVEN days, I've received exactly 293 e-mails from politicians, PACs, and parties begging for campaign donations. That's just ONE week. Had I not deleted them routinely, by now I'd have e-mails in the TENS of THOUSANDS. And the tactics they use are as varied, underhanded, and manipulative as you'd expect.
One e-mail this week has a subject header that says, "It's Over. Zero Chance. Goodbye." Of course, when I opened it up, it told me that Candidate X had zero chance of winning the election... unless I contributed $5. I have e-mails that thank me for my support and e-mails that chastise me for not having donated more.
I even get e-mails from celebrities. My close friends Susan Sarandon and Carole King have "personally" written me in the past week on behalf of candidates they support. I received an e-mail yesterday from Joe Biden touting "BAD NEWS!" just seconds after receiving one from Cheri Bustos saying, "GOOD NEWS!"
Of course, I could unsubscribe from these mailers any time I want, but I can't bring myself to do it. I'm so appalled at the influx that I want to witness where it goes from here. If I'd have unsubscribed, I wouldn't have received an e-mail the other day from Barack Obama himself telling me that if I contribute a minimum of $3, I would be entered into a sweepstakes to be a personal guest at the White House.
Quite honestly, I would really hope that the leader of the free world has better things to do with his day than hang out with a guy who writes about cats and Taylor Swift for a living. And if I were to win that sweepstakes, I'd tell that to his face... just as soon as I finished taking selfies in the Lincoln Bedroom and bragging about it on Twitter.
My favorites are the e-mails that say "You're Our Only Hope" or "It's All Up To You!" That better not be the case, because if somebody's campaign is hanging on MY $3, they're in for some seriously bad news. If it were REALLY up to me, there wouldn't be ANY political ads on TV or clogging up my inbox. I'd ban them all... and then... then we cou... (static)
SHANE BROWN WANTS YOU TO THINK HE CARES ABOUT FAIRNESS... OR DOES HE? SHANE BROWN FAVORS A BAN ON POLITICAL ADVERTISING FROM TV AND THE INTERNET. BUT THAT WOULD ONLY LEAVE ONE PLACE FOR CANDIDATES TO ADVERTISE: THE VERY SAME LOCAL NEWSPAPER THAT PAYS SHANE BROWN'S SALARY. DOES SHANE BROWN REALLY CARE ABOUT YOU? OR DOES SHANE BROWN ONLY CARE ABOUT SHANE BROWN? SHANE BROWN: BAD AT WRITING ABOUT POLITICS... BAD FOR ILLINOIS. We're every candidate that's ever run for any office ever, and we approve this message.
Let the terror end. Halloween's over.