Those of you who follow my column probably don't think of me as a particularly politically oriented writer, because ... yeah, all things considered, I'm not one. Still, that doesn't mean I don't follow politics, in my own mildly slack-jawed, "slowest kid in the class watching pro wrestling" kind of way. To keep with that clumsy analogy, I've learned to recognize certain political equivalents of setups to finishers, spot moves, and identify other manipulative crowd-pleasing antics. What I don't understand is why the media keeps treating these absurdist antics as individual instances instead of the extremely common, widespread political strategies that they really are.
So, armed with my political expertise of [armpit fart noises] and [actual fart noises], I thought now would be as good a time as any to look into some of the strange-seeming, yet common and oddly effective ways the people who want us to vote for them sneakily yank our chains in the desired direction. For instance ...
Playing The Fool Is A Surprisingly Effective Political Strategy
Most every election in recent history, regardless of the level, has featured at least one wacky-ass joke candidate with statements and opinions so far-fetched, it soon becomes evident they're not fit to lead a fucking parade. So how could they ever expect to get anywhere? Are they really that delusional? Or are a worrying percentage of political candidates just out there for a laugh?
Well, yeah, some of them probably are. But I'll wager some of them are adopting this strategy very deliberately, because sometimes the joke character wins the day. Ridiculous candidates can and absolutely do get elected in various positions all the time. In 2010, comedian Jon Gnarr went full ... well, comedian on Iceland during Reykjavik's city council elections, running as the "Best Party" candidate, promising to break all his promises, and generally behaving like a loon. His campaign amused people, so they voted him in, and he ended up the mayor.
The history of politics has plenty of crazy underdog stories like that. If the political climate is right -- like if the last umpteen incumbents have sucked absolute monkey balls or socioeconomic circumstances dictate a heavy protest mood -- the "joke" candidate can become a viable option in the voters' heads. This is not always a bad thing. For instance, Gnarr seems to be doing a pretty fine job. But, sometimes, the joke candidate is completely unfit for the job for reasons of not even being human: In 1967, a brand of freaking foot powder was elected mayor of a small Ecuadorian town, thanks to a successful ad campaign. And not even the drug euphemism kind of foot powder.
Donald Iain Smith/Moment/Getty Images
To be fair, it's rare to find a candidate that can actually do something for your personal well-being.