“My fellow Americans, I come before you today in hopes of earning your vote in the upcoming election with honesty and a firm grasp of reality. Let’s be honest, I probably only have around twenty seconds to really grab your attention before other, more pressing matters take over your thinking. Twenty seconds might be generous. This is the microwave/Internet/streaming video age. Those of us with complex positions and intricate points to make don’t stand much of a chance against sound bites, email blasts, myopic commentary and spin doctoring. Therefore, I am not seeking the vote of any single-issue voter. I am not asking for values voters to cast their ballot for me. I am not canvassing for the support of the social equity activist. I don’t need the 99 percent to win this election. I need the 51 percent.
“I need 51 percent of the next electorate to be made up of Americans who go to work, pay their bills, love their mothers, worry about whether the dog has had its shots, smile at strangers in grocery lines, understand how four-way stop signs work, don’t overreact to colorful humor, take almost no interest in reality television, still read books, put pictures of their vacation on Facebook without obsessing over the privacy implications, drink beer in moderation or at least refrain from frowning on those who do, occasionally put too much energy into the support of a sports team, understand the value of nature, believe in science even if they have unwavering faith in the most non-scientific constructs of spirituality, don’t swear when children are around, and kiss the love of their life in public.
“Those people are busy. They are busy making the wheels of their lives turn round and round. They lock their doors when they are away but leave them unlocked while they are at home. That’s the model they want from government, too. All the parts to protect and serve should be in place and work well, but they shouldn’t lock us inside our own lives. I have found, unfortunately, that both of the major political parties in this country have less interest in making a government that works well and more in making a government that works for them. They give too much to those who already have more than the rest on one hand and give too much for the willfully indigent on the other hand. The 51 percent I’m looking for don’t call themselves Republicans or Democrats. Most of them don’t even vote, so I’m not really giving myself much of a chance, here. The 51 percent is busy with problems that are concurrently much smaller and much bigger than running a country. The 51 percent is busy managing its own reality.
“Politics is about creating reality. On a literal level, politicians lay the groundwork on which the reality of life in our country unfolds. They write the laws and move the money around. They decide big things. Politicians would like you to believe in what they do. The men in suits and women in smart pencil skirts and sensible blouses stick out their hands and put on their best Sunday churchyard smiles and make up the reality of what America is so they can contrast it to what America should be. Then they build a case for putting your trust in them to get We the People from here to there. Since the 51 percent are generally too busy to pay these people much attention, the outliers get the biggest audience. Left, right, socialist, fascist, anarchist and evangelical—they all come out with their list of demands. The voters I need to win this election don’t have a list of demands. They have a grocery list. A “honey do” list. A list of bills to pay every month.
“My fellow Americans, don’t mistake my words or intentions. No civilization on the planet is above improvement. Here in our beautiful country, we have big projects waiting to be tackled. But in our current situation, this country can’t walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. We all need more politicians bowing to the will of the 51 percent, telling the one percent to get bent and explaining to the social crusaders that help comes to those who help themselves. We don’t need smaller government or bigger. We just need government that gets out of its own way. We need lawyers building bridges and bridge builders approving or denying bridge-building permits.
“I have a friend who says ‘stupid ought to hurt.’ He’s right. Education hasn’t been a top priority in this country in so long we’ve forgotten how to teach our children anything beyond the tricks needed to get through a standardized test. More focus has been placed on not leaving children behind than possibly holding them back. There should absolutely be a constitutional amendment outlawing participation trophies except at the Special Olympics. The 51 percent understands how those last two ideas are linked.
“I don’t want the vote of the ‘average’ American. I want the vote of the above-average American. I want to get into my office and do things that are unpopular but necessary. I will do things that hurt some people in the interest of the greater good. I will last for only one term, which is no less than any politician deserves. Of course, I won’t win this election. I am, after all, a fictional candidate running for an unspecified office. I would never get far enough in the electoral process to make this speech to any audience that truly mattered. But I would be better for the job than anyone you’ve got now.
“And you know it.”