The notion that Americans are a dense apathetic people, with no thought above reality television, is a favorite grievance of social critics and slanderers alike. Yet, it has, in fact, only some reasonable basis. The truth is that Americans, as a people, are not entirely indifferent and many are not lazy.
Certainly, the average American’s waist line has expanded a belt notch or two over the last half century. So, too, spandex pants and oversized t-shirts have somehow gained acceptance as appropriate public attire. Nonetheless, those Americans who haven’t been dispirited by public assistance still steadfastly get after it each day to improve their lot in life…or die trying.
Where politics is concerned, a passionate populace still reigns. The mere mention of a presidential election rouses the emotions of even society’s most derelict individuals. They’ll offer their most ardent opinion regardless of if they have any idea what they are talking about.
What is most important to most people is that they have a vote and that they’re free to express it. The importance of using one’s vote wisely is secondary, if that. But even if it weren’t, the choices generally range from disappointing to downright disgraceful.
Still, despite these vagaries, has there ever been a better show in the world?
To explore this question, we’ll pause today from our usual deliberations on the absurdities of money to deliberate on the absurdities of presidential elections…plus we’ll offer first hand evidence on how presidential elections are won. Read on to discover all this and a whole lot more…
The Absurdities of Presidential Elections
Though democracy, in this day in age, is often mistaken for liberty, Americans love their right to vote for the president whether or not they actually bother to cast a ballot. More so, their interest doesn’t rest in who’s the best man for the job; though who wins and who loses is of utmost importance.
What we mean is, in today’s two party system, presidential elections have taken on the air of a professional football game…and cheating is encouraged. Voters, like fans, line up behind their team’s leading man and shout and scream for victory. The winner’s political party gets to rub the loser’s nose in the dirt and the loser must take it while vowing to come out on top the next time.
Consider, for example, the current campaign for presidency. There’s a Mitt and there’s a Barack. Just from where did these guys come? They hardly seem like real people. So, too, they hardly seem like anyone you’d want running the Kiwanis, let alone the Country.
But the choice is not really about Mitt or Barack…it’s about Republican or Democrat. Pundits pontificate, opinion makers opinionate, and politicians prevaricate in the full contact sport leading up to Election Day.
The best part, of course, is when a candidate opens his mouth and utters nonsensical gibberish. Because that’s when people can point their fingers, laugh, and ridicule the opposition’s candidate for being a buffoon just like them. We here at the Economic Prism are depraved, we find such spectacles delightful.
In the end, dangling chads and all, there’s a winner and a loser. By our estimation, and first hand evidence, how presidential elections are won is quite different than you may believe. Here’s what we mean…
How Presidential Elections Are Won
Years ago we worked at a massive wastewater treatment plant. Each day we’d showed up to the precise location where about 2.5 million peoples’ toilets drain to when they press the flush lever. Most people never think about this crude and nasty place…but every civilized society must have one. In truth, a sewage treatment plant is quite a remarkable place, full of rich instruction…among other things.
For example, upon flowing into a treatment plant, after passing through the bar screens, wastewater is pumped into primary clarifiers for primary treatment. Primary clarifiers, in short, are gigantic settling basins where the solids are settled out of the wastewater by gravity into hoppers at the bottom of the tanks. Indeed, most of the solids sink to the bottom of the clarifier and become what is called sludge. The sludge is then pumped to sludge treatment facilities and then to giant digesters before being transported out, away from the city, for disposal.
But to the chagrin of wastewater engineers and treatment plant operators not all of the solids settle out into sludge. Unfortunately, there’s a small amount of waste that doesn’t sink to the bottom; it rises to the top. Moreover, the small amount of waste that rises to the top requires a whole additional mechanical and operational process of skimmers to manage and treat.
Whereas sludge is the special name for what sinks to the bottom, there’s another special name for what rises to the top…this is called scum. Naturally, the presence of scum rising to the surface offers a key insight on the inner workings of how the presidency is won.
Similar to the wastewater treatment process is the presidential election process. At each stage, from the primary election through the nominating convention and into the general election, most presidential hopefuls and candidates sink to the bottom. Some take longer than others, but eventually, just about all candidates settle out. Yet there is one exception…
Ultimately, on Election Day, there’s one candidate who doesn’t sink to the bottom…but rises to the top to win the presidency. No doubt, that person is pure scum.
for Economic Prism