OPINION: Countdown to the 3rd: Eye of the storm

Voters clamor for a comfort candidate; Louisiana gets walloped yet again

JACOB HERSH, Evergreen columnist

“Life’s ill, sometimes life might kill.”
Vordul Mega, “Iron Galaxy”

A fully-developed hurricane can release the energy of a 10-megaton nuclear bomb every 20 minutes. That’s almost 700 Hiroshimas smacking down on the coast of Texas and Louisiana every 20 minutes. Hurricane Laura seems to be the perfect cap on a season of horrors, and we’re only in August. Ye gods.

Yes, we watched a tropical storm make landfall yet again, the strongest to hit Louisiana since 1856. That seems to directly mirror the typhoon-esque turmoil rocking the Midwestern United States. As Laura made landfall, a 17-year-old in Kenosha, Wisconsin, leveled his AR-15 and killed two people at a protest. As Laura tore up roofs and trees, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was escorted through a mob baying for his head on a stick. As Laura dissipated, leaving property damage and lost lives, Portland protestors staged a sit-in outside Mayor Ted Wheeler’s house, calling for his resignation.

It’s a cold world out there, but for the last six months or so, it’s been heating up, like that old proverb about the frog in the slowly boiling water. The American voters have been slowly cooking like a lobster, without their knowledge or consent, in the big cast-iron pot of the 21st-century society.

There are riots in the streets — don’t trust the police. There are germs in the air — don’t trust your neighbor. There are Republicans in Congress and Democrats shaking your hand — who do you call upon to escort you, like Virgil, through the nine circles of hell to the eye of the storm?

For the American voter, the answer is unclear. Legions have backed their horse — he’s hand-waving in the White House, and his senior counselor has hightailed it to greener pastures. His odds appear favorable, but if you look closely, there’s a twinge of fear behind his eyes. For the first time in his presidency, Donald may have to fight for the office.

Legions of other voters have backed their horse — why, he was the vice president under America’s Cool Leader! Sure, he’s a little slow, a little racist and maybe he’s not all there, but it doesn’t matter after all — he’s not “45.”

Look, at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter because people aren’t voting for a person or even an ideology. The 2020 voter, regardless of their age, race or gender, isn’t voting for a particular party platform nor are they voting for any kind of meaningful or radical change to the American lifestyle — they’re voting for a comfort candidate.

Perhaps this is true, to an extent, of all elections, but it rings especially true today.

Voters are not backing their candidate based on his ideas or his platform. Rather, they’re backing him because they’re sick of the six months of nail-biting, stomach-churning change we’ve collectively experienced.

In a world where everyone is out of work, where neighborhoods are burning, and where every day feels uncertain and scary, the average voter will let the candidate’s platform take a back seat. We want to feel comforted like everything’s going to turn out alright. We want the beginning of “Retrovertigo” by Mr. Bungle, but instead, we’re getting the most abrasive of Faith No More.

In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana, the people standing on their roofs praying for boats weren’t picky about where those boats came from. Whether it was the National Guard or the Socialist Rifles of America, people jumped in the boats.

Now, in 2020, people want a boat. People want to hit the notoriously sticky Stubblefields dance floor, and maybe grab a coffee at Cafe Moro, and they’ll vote for whichever candidate promises that. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single voter in possession of bread must be in want of a circus. In a year where bread is divvied out 6 feet at a time, candidates need to appeal to a voter’s desire for normalcy.

A candidate in 2020 doesn’t need to symbolize “hope and change.” They need to symbolize normality and calm. Whether it’s Biden or Trump, they both need to embrace the “glass of warm milk” mentality. They need to be the equivalent of a big, comfortable La-Z-Boy, a weighted blanket and that one episode of “Community” that brings you back to 2012 when everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.