Friday, October 15, 2004

Getting in Touch With Your Inner Reality

As big a shock as I know it must be for you, Bush and Kerry are spending their last precious campaign days accusing each other of being out of touch with reality. Quel surprise.

One of the most laughable parts of this (or, really, any other) campaign is the idea that either candidate could possibly understand what, exactly, constitutes reality. Based on what I've seen through the past year, I would say that they both tend to define reality by what they've seen on TV. Kerry seems to prefer the Big Brother approach, while Bush favors Survivor.

I admit to a little wistfulness that neither candidate has tried to fumble their way through a definition of what constitutes the "common man." This, I feel, would be the most entertaining event of the entire campaign. I'm certain it's largely because their handlers won't let them: The stakes are just too high. They already between them do plenty to insult our collective intelligence, but not enough, apparently, to scare us completely away from the ballot box. Yet.

And so they are reduced to complaining that the other fellow is out of touch. The heck of it is, they're both right.

Neither Bush nor Kerry understands the reality of the average voter. They can't, because their wealth and political successes of the past automatically separate them from those voters. Let's take a look at what "average" voters define as their reality:

1. When was the last time either candidate had to deal with making ends meet? Based on the way they manage our tax dollars, I'm forced to conclude that they've never seen a checkbook in their entire adult lives. In my house we occasionally rely on food storage to get us to the next paycheck. At least we get a paycheck. Friends of mine are not as lucky.

2. Honestly, when was the last time either candidate had to worry about whether their HMO plan at work was going to cost them 55% more a month in the coming year? For that matter, when was the last time either one of them held an honest job?

3. Not to complain, Mr. Politician, but have you driven your own federal highway "system" lately? Care to come to Los Angeles without your chauffer? I didn't think so. Some of us get to spend between 10 and 20 hours a week on those highways. Got a plan? (What am I asking? Of course they have a plan. Maybe someday Kerry will actually tell us what his is. Bush is still trying to remember what a highway is. Highways are in short supply in Crawford. Nader will only tell me that they're unsafe at any speed. Gee, thanks.)

4. Two words: "Self-serve." Your reality? No? Just asking.

I had a friend call me the other day that I haven't been in contact with for several years. He moved to the other side of the country just about the time my wife and I were getting married. He asked if we were still a DINK or a SITCOM?


His explanation, which I admit I'd not heard before: DINK stands for Dual Income, No Kids. SITCOM stands for Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage.

Direct hit.

No, Mr. Politician, you're not in touch with reality. Not mine, anyway.

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