The War Nerd: War for Wimps
Election night. Maps with blue and red areas, strategic predictions, bets about winner and loser: in other words, elections are just war for wimps. I never liked elections, in fact I’m not that keen on democracy, or people, come to think of it. But the whole NSFW team is supposed to take part tonight, so I told them I didn’t want to be anywhere in America for the night, so they laid the curse on me: I was assigned to head to Canada, that being the cheapest foreign destination available, to get a look from outside.
Canada’s not high on my list of destinations, because they never fought for their country. For the Brits, sure, everywhere in the world that had nothing to do with them, but not for their own cold, wet ground. So I said, “OK, but I wanna go to the southern-est place in Canada." Turns out that’s Victoria, on Vancouver Island, so here I am, wandering around in this Twin-Peaks town in the rain.
This Victoria is a weird place. The light isn’t even normal, all pale and watery. The people are all white and pleased with themselves. They coddle the bums here, shelters and do-gooders on every corner. But what shocked me most is there are still all these hippies, stoners, all over the place. They act like they own it. That’s what I notice: All these goofs acting not-scared. Which made me realize something about where I’m from: we’re running real scared down there. These people have all that old-timey public sector/civil service cushion, so they’re smug. They walk slow, even in the rain. Their rush hour is an hour earlier than it’s supposed to be. They’re smug like you wouldn’t believe. I think this place must be the capital of smug. The newspapers are full of stories about the American election, and they all have the same attitude: “Oh those silly loud crazy Americans, they’re so fat and impolite.” Makes me proud to be a fat American, from a place where people are scared and fast like we’re supposed to be.
Later tonight I’m going to drop by this smug sounding Victoria bar called the “Ross Bay Pub” to see what the American expats are meeting to talk about the election. I’ll be reporting back on that later tonight. Not saying I’m looking forward to it, but I’ll do it, and I’ll tell you what it was like.
Meanwhile, after my tour of this twilight town full of people straight out of Fargo, I go back to the hotel feeling all Yankee’n’proud, turn on CBS, and…well, so much for my American pride. I had to use the Seattle CBS affiliate, and If you haven’t seen local network news shows for a while, like me, those faces are hard to take. Those chirpy voices, those Old Glory graphics, and those commercials with the smiles that look like these skinny ladies have a fish hook yanking both corners of their mouths apart…it’s a shock. That old song, “These are not my people,” keeps running in my head.
Then it’s back to CBS central, and the Star Wars anthem music comes on and the white-haired Clergyman type at the anchor desk says all solemn, “This just in, the breaking news at this moment, CBS news is now projecting that…Mitt Romney will carry the state of Arkansas.” No! My god! Who could’ve thought an almost all-white Dixie state would break Republican?
Then it’s over to the Ohio map guy, a creepy blond Youth-Minister type, blurts out another shock: white working class males are going Romney. I keep telling you guys: think back to your high school phys-ed class. Course, that’s only if you went to a public school. I did and it was full of white working class assholes and they were some of the meanest, dumbest people I’ve ever met. I’m sure every one of my old school chums voted for Romney, but that was only because General Trujillo is dead so they couldn’t vote for him. Of all the lies of the American elections is this idea that although we disagree we’re all good people at heart and we all want the best. That’s such a stupid lie that I can’t believe people would say it with a straight face. All those guys in the pickups trucks? They want to shoot you snotty bohemians in the face, and if you don’t know that you’re lying to yourself.
More flags, more cheese, and I’m still thinking of that map. After all, this election crap is just a compromise for wimps who aren’t quite ready to go to war, and it’s way more interesting to try to come up with a civil war scenario. So I hit the mute, turning off Romney’s sleazy campaign manager, and try to imagine a serious election, African style, with guns and artillery.
Trouble is, it just doesn’t track. Maybe we’ll have another Civil War a century from now, but for the moment the question is, who’s going to play the North in this one? I know lots of insane righties, but there’s a desperate shortage of insane lefties these days. The whole OWS thing that was supposed to mobilize the radical fringe dissolved into some of the most disgusting grad-student grandstanding I’ve ever heard. Nobody would follow those geeks into battle.
If we were going to have a Civil War, we’d have to get the cleansing out of the way first, because in most of the North the neighborhoods are all mixed up. The South, now, that’s a different matter. The South is ready for war right now. From El Paso to Jacksonville, there are thousands of neighborhoods that are all-Evangelical, all white/Hispanic, and all eager to use small arms on something more exciting than a deer. The black neighborhoods are outgunned and outnumbered. The Hispanic faction would be the only wild card, and it’s more likely to side with the whites than most people admit.
You don’t get that kind of unity in the North, except maybe in Vermont. That would be a cool war scenario, actually: Vermont vs. the other 49 states. That’d be one of those glorious, hopeless last stands that make great reading, but aren’t so good to live through, especially if you’ve got anybody you care about.
None of these scenarios is gonna happen anyway, because it’s only the potential foot soldiers, the working class jerks, who really want a war like that. The real bosses, the big money guys, aren’t interested, because irregular wars like that devalue a currency and don’t involve any really profitable defense contracts. So it’s never going to happen.
I suppose that’s a good thing. I seem to remember somebody saying that “war is not healthy for children or other living things”—and that’s probably correct, yeah yeah yeah, fine. But god damn it, why does healthy stuff and reality and normality always have to be so boring and cheesy and disgusting?