I’ve finally realized what the election is really all about. The candidates aren’t running for president, they’re running to be our parents. In a nation of fractured families with a high divorce rate and chronically absentee parents, people are desperate for someone to fill the role of mommy and daddy, and politicians are eager to play that part. The problem is that most of them are just as dysfunctional as the real parents who screwed up their kids in the first place.
Looking at the candidates it becomes clear that they fit into certain patterns of parenting styles which you can see on a daily basis in your friends, your neighbors and the families whose kids go to school with yours.
Hillary Clinton is the bitter divorcee who blames her kids for her marriage failing and her life not being what she had hoped and ends up being both neglectful and overly controlling at the same time. Plus she’s got a creepy new boyfriend who always winks at the kids and pats them on the ass when she’s not looking. I see her as Joan Crawford in a sort of combination of Mildred Pierce and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.
John Edwards is the divorced dad who only has visitation one weekend a month and spends all of that time buying his kids toys and taking them to the corporate skybox for a baseball game in a desperate attempt to buy their friendship. I see him as Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar, but without the redemptive turnaround at the end. Or maybe that came when he dropped out.
Barack Obama is the dad who likes to read to the kids but takes himself overly seriously and tries a little too hard to educate rather than entertain, so at bedtime he drags out Das Kapital rather than Harry Potter, but it does put them to sleep pretty quickly.
John McCain is the dad whose kids are off to college or the military and he sends them a long letter every week reminding them to check the oil in their car and wear warm socks. Then he goes off for a round of golf and some drinks a the club.
Mitt Romney is the dad who spends all of his time at the office and overcompensates by setting the kids makework chores and lining them up and criticizing the way they’re dressed. His wife spends a lot of time drinking in secret and looking longingly at the pool boy.
Rudy Giuliani is a good traditional father who likes to sit in a big armchair and smoke a rich cigar and doesn’t want to see the kids after dinner is over. He’s probably convinced that regular beatings build ‘character’.
Mike Huckabee is like the dad from Father Knows Best who always has an encouraging word and a hug for the kids. After dinner he likes to go down to his ‘workshop’ in the basement where he keeps his ‘tools’ and where the kids aren’t allowed to go. Sometimes mommy goes down there too and comes back crying and walking funny.
Ron Paul is the crazy old uncle who lives in a trailer and doesn’t have any kids. Every afternoon he goes down to the local university with his Bible and rails at the students to end their sinful ways and accept Jesus.
Looked at this way, our candidates are a bit like a microcosm of our population. The problem is that they don’t seem to be much better as parental figures than anyone else is, despite our desperate desire to have them pat us on the head and send us to bed with some warm milk. They do seem to have a desire to fill that mommy or daddy role and make decisions for us and make sure we behave properly and eat all our vegetables. Someone ought to remind them that we’re grownups, but when so many of us act like kids and seem eager to have someone make our decisions for us, maybe we’re not ready to be out on our own and need a big mommy or daddy in Washington.