I am The Mouse Who Ate Xanax, who lives under the Nittany Turkey’s family room sofa, within furry, rounded earshot of the big TV and the radio and all. I am not seen, but occasionally heard. I while away the hours of potential visibility by listening intently for signs of human activity and only come out when it is safe. There was a big dog the other day, one who could have swallowed me in one gulp, but I was in deep, pill seeking mode, so I avoided capture. Most of the time, as I said, I just sit and listen. In the process, I hear things that make me wonder.
For example, it seems to this Mouse that the U.S. Presidential race is almost finished. If you listen to the TV or radio, though, you would think it has been decided for months. Polls and all that stuff are being kicked around monotonously. However, nothing is decided until the last hanging chad is counted. The leading candidate, running a campaign on smoke and mirrors, by most available measures appears to have a significant lead. What a weird year this is.
Don’t get this Mouse wrong: the smoke and mirrors campaign has been masterfully run, as it seems to have hypnotized many potential voters with its rotating magical mantras of promoting wealth envy under the guise of “fairness”, promising payoffs to less fortunate voters under the guise of “tax cuts”, and completely ignoring the absence of qualifications of a magic carpet riding, panacea proffering candidate who has served fully 164 days in elected office before running for the highest elected office in the land. Something akin to Mickey Mouse politics is going on here, and this Mouse smells a rat.
The capybara in the room is the candidate’s smooth talking potential for hoodwinking voters who are disgruntled with the status quo into voting not only for him but also for U.S. Senate candidates from his party, candidates these voters would ordinarily pass on. Now, having heard their pied piper’s plaintive pleas, the rats are dutifully following their improbable leader. This is a disastrous course for my adopted country (but mice are not subject to immigration rules), as it may well lead to a super-majority for that party in the Senate, which will give them free reign over my unwitting landlord’s pocketbook, among other, almost unthinkable consequences.
Humans seem to be such a pliable lot, kind of like a ball of silly putty. Watching how this shaman has promised witch doctor cures for all humankind’s ills by advancing a nebulous, undefined concept of “change”, I wonder whether I should not hire his campaign masterminds to help me market my odious mouse turds to the gullible public as natural, organic, herbal supplements. That would be offal.
This Mouse has to say that whoever is running that campaign and writing the words for its front man is a master of human psychology. He knows how you humans work. You are divided into two groups of interest for masters such as these: Category One is comprised of the vast unwashed, a large number of voters who don’t understand government or economics but who can be bought with fancy promises and sweet words, while Category Two is comprised of the intellectuals, the liberal elite, who think they know what is best for everyone else and can influence a large number of voters (or think they can). The leading candidate has managed to appeal to both the masses and the elites, both Category One and Category Two.
Recently, a local newswoman interviewed the candidate’s running mate and asked whether his proposed redistribution of income wasn’t the type of socialism described in Karl Marx’s seminal work. A great media outcry ensued, and the candidate’s campaign crew denied all further access of the TV station to anyone associated with the campaign. The campaign crew, having collected record-setting donations, immediately set its attack dogs in motion, performing a metaphorical strip search of the newswoman. Politics is nasty business.
While invoking Marx was probably a bit of a sophomoric ploy by the newshuman, this Mouse believes that the question was appropriate. Of course, it was side-stepped by the running mate, whose mouth had previously gotten him in trouble with the campaign’s masterminds. The skinny guy running for president has described wealth redistribution as a tax break, and people are buying the rhetorical ploy. Call it whatever you want. This Mouse calls it socialism. If it looks like a duck…
In one famous faux pas, the leading candidate spoke of people who cling to their guns and religion. This Mouse once again heard distant Marxian echoes: “Religion is the opiate of the masses.” Many liberal elitists believe that to be axiomatic these days. When speaking to those Category Twoers, thinking that he would not be overheard by Category Oners, the two-faced nature of this candidate surfaced. He knows how to talk to both categories. He talks to Category One in open forums, with some subtle winks to Category Two, with whom he typically consorts behind closed doors.
Many of the Category One voters do not understand what their bought votes are really buying for the future of the country. Most of the Category Two voters, the intellectuals, would dearly love to embark on such an egalitarian experiment as the leading candidate advocates, just to see how it works. Indeed, their intellectual curiosity has longed for it for many years. Of course, they turn a blind eye toward the historical failure of all previous attempts at implementing welfare states, socialistic paradigms, communism—call it what you will. Taking money from the most productive members of society and playing Robin Hood with it, using the gun to the head power of central government, is a depressive scenario, denying incentives, reducing productivity, and producing the opposite effect of what is being bandied about. It will reduce, not expand, employment. You need only look across the pond to Europe to see examples of stagnant, quasi-socialist economies.
One of my pill-providing benefactors, Artificially Sweetened, made a good point. Though the unemployment rate in Greece is 30%, why should the unemployed worry about it if the state is going to take care of all of one’s basic needs? If I were there, I would not have to beg for my bread crumbs and my Xanax. I would be able to eat moussaka (or is that mouse-saka) at every meal. I would drink my ouzo and Mousetaxa on the state. Opaaaaaaaaaaaa.
The other candidate appears to this Mouse to be a bland, stodgy, bald old guy, who would maybe be a good grampa if I were human. He seems to not have the killer instinct that a candidate must have these days. His ideas make sense and are not radical, but his opponent (whose ideas are) has accused him of being just like his party’s incumbent president. He has been unable to convince the public that this is not the case, and with the current president’s approval ratings hovering at a post-Watergate Nixonian 27% and threatening to dive to Jimmy Carter lows, this is a major failure. This Mouse, however, believes that voting for this candidate makes sense, if only to forestall further assaults on innovation and productivity, the cornerstones of a capitalistic system.
Further, it makes sense to vote for this other, more stable guy to mitigate the danger of a spendthrift congress, which is the cause of many of our existing problems. A rubber-stamp president is the last thing this Mouse would want, especially one who agrees with the tax-and-spend mantra proffered by the leaders of Congress. This Mouse believes the other guy when he promises to wield the veto pen and rein in the self-serving lords in those oak-paneled halls.
Michael Kinsley, with whom this Mouse seldom agrees, wrote an essay for TIME last week. In it, he said that our society is in dire straits, and that in times of crisis, we don’t need “change”. We need to get back to business as usual. This Mouse agrees. We do not need to be conducting experiments in social engineering; things are bad enough already.
Promises by the skinny guy can be taken with a grain of salt, as he has never actually accomplished anything in his life other than running for office. Many of these concepts have been tried elsewhere and have failed. Many of us are hurting and we blame our present leaders. Some of that blame is reasonable and just, while some is misplaced. We want relief and the skinny guy’s line is appealing. Many of us would like to have the Brooklyn Bridge in our real estate portfolio, too, but most of us know better than to hand over $500 of our hard earned money to the snake oil salesman who offers it. The smoke and mirrors guy is presenting the same proposition—only it is your vote he wants, in return for which he’ll give you a great big bag of promises. You might feel good momentarily, but you’ll be selling out your progeny, dooming them to an economy that lacks the opportunity and incentives you American humans have known all your lives. His proposals don’t add up. Put them on paper and see for yourselves. If you don’t or you can’t, and you vote that way, chances are you’ll get what you deserve.
The future of this country has a direct bearing on all of us, and our vote must be seriously thought out. “Trying something new” doesn’t get it. We all hurt now, and our affections are easily bought by a whiff of expensive perfume and a dropped handkerchief. However, such rendezvouses rarely result in substantial, productive, long-term relationships. The last thing we need now is to capitulate to the flirtations of an untried, untested, inexperienced candidate. With that in mind, and in spite of my host Turkey’s previously announced write-in campaign, this Mouse endorses the white-haired guy for President of the United States.