Friday 4 November 2016

Four Metaphors for the Presidential Election

It's hard to do justice to the grotesque spectacle before us with just one metaphor, so here is a selection.

Trump and Clinton in the second debate.


Hillary Clinton tells us to eat our vegetables. In this she is the latest in a long line of worthy but dull Democrats: Kerry, Gore, Dukakis, Mondale. Her husband and Obama managed to sell progressive change as an exciting journey, but Clinton just tells us the vegetables are good for us.

Yes, we know they are. It's just that not all of us care, and Donald Trump is offering candy for dinner every night. If that's all we ate, we know it would make us sick. We suspect that if Trump was in charge, there would be no candy at all, because he'd spend the money on whiskey and slot machines. But a lot of people have problems that won't be fixed by vegetables, and want to believe in the candy.


We are watching The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies. It is bloated, costly, unedifying, the final act of a production which was already far too long. The antagonists try increasingly absurd and pointless ways to smash the hell out of each other. We care less and less about the performance before us, but keep watching because we've stuck it out this long, and hope the show redeems itself with a satisfying ending.


We are children in the back seat of a car. We have left our old home and will not be going back. We are fed up with the vehicle, the journey, and each other, but apprehensive about our destination. It might be a home much like the one we left, or it might be an unimaginable nightmare. We peer out the windows, looking for clues, but it has grown too dark to see anything. We fidget and ask once again if we are nearly there yet.


The towering, mindless, deformed monster of an election lurches on, groaning and slobbering. We can hardly stand to watch, but can't bear to look away. We hope it will be given a quick, clean death before dawn on the ninth of November, so we can all move on. Until then, some of us can only watch from a distance and try to express our horror.

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