Our Upcoming “Sick-O” Election

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If you’ve turned on cable news these past few weeks, you’ve no doubt seen panicked concerned citizens engaged in a mad scramble to isolate themselves from a condition deemed so deadly, so contagious, that even being in its presence can mean almost certain death.

The “concerned citizens” are Democrat candidates for U.S. Senate, the “condition” is President Obama, and the “death” is political.

Boy, they don’t want to be seen anywhere near the President. Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has gone so far as to deny even coming into second-hand contact with Obama, refusing to say whether she ever pulled a lever for him in a voting booth.

After the 2012 elections, virtually all political pundits were predicting that the Republicans would have to dramatically shift on a dime in order to attract desperately needed Hispanic voters. Instead, it’s the Democratic candidates acting all shifty to pander to alienated white voters. Democrats are running as pretend Republicans, and that rarely ends well. For the Democrats.

Oddly enough, politicians can’t wait to get their paws on that other contagious disease, Ebola. Their metaphorical paws, anyway. They’re calling for tougher measures! Banning travelers from “Ebola” countries from flying into the U.S! Further tightening of the U.S./Mexico border, presumably to stop illegal immigrants from smuggling Ebola over the border! Put them in a room with Ebola, these tough-talking politicians intimate, and the deadly virus doesn’t stand a chance.

So that’s the state of the 2014 congressional elections: Politicians are running towards Ebola, and away from President Obama.

For months there’s been endless speculation about which political party will control the Senate come the New Year. The general consensus has been that Republicans have a modest advantage, but anything could happen. But the last couple weeks, according to most pollsters, the odds of Republicans retaking control of the upper body appear to have risen. If true, we will be going from a government of gridlock, shutdowns and record-low productivity to one that’s really ineffectual.

Republicans’ rising chances arrived around roughly the same time the deadly virus – Ebola, not Obama – reared its ugly head in the American consciousness. There’s one theory that posits the two elements are not coincidental.

In his book “Drop Dead Healthy” in which A.J. Jacobs reported on his attempts to attain maximum health, he mentioned a 2010 op-ed in the New York Times by two scientists, Peter Lieberman and David Pizarro, that posited that the more obsessed someone is with germs, the more politically conservative they become. These two scientists conducted an experiment in which they asked subjects about their “moral, social and fiscal” attitudes.” They found that “merely standing next to a hand-sanitizing dispenser elicited more conservative political viewpoints. The scientists concluded that “The slightest signal that germs might be present is enough to shift political opinions to the right.”

Another finding: merely standing next to a hand-sanitizing machine leads some scientists to conduct very peculiar experiments.

This might be the first theory to explain why, after rolling around for three days at Woodstock, many of the 400,000 hippies went on to become bankers, moved to the suburbs, and voted for Reagan.

And, of course, we have one literal example of a “germ” country moving to the far right: WW II GERMany.

In a particularly prescient paragraph, the duo cited experiments that “demonstrated when researchers increased individuals’ perceived vulnerability to disease (for example, by showing them pictures of a woman battling cartoon germs in a kitchen)…(they) felt more negatively about, say, Nigerian immigrants than did participants who were shown slides of non-pathogenic dangers.”

All of which led to more xenophobia and circling the wagons.

In other words, there’s a decent chance that the state of our government for the next few years may well be determined by a virus – Ebola, not Obama – that, as of this writing, has, according to the Center for Disease Control, produced THREE confirmed cases of infection in the U.S., and will have both long passed its 15 minutes of medical fame and receded into another false alarm non-issue by the time the triumphant candidates take office in January.

That’s sick, man.

 

About Stan Sinberg

Stan is an award-winning newspaper columnist, radio commentator, and features writer whose humor has appeared in everything from the NY Times to WSJ and MAD Magazine. Stan is a native New Yorker living on the west coast. His website is www.stansinberg.com and you can email him at stan@stansinberg.com or follow him on Twitter @ssinberg1
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