My last get-rich-quick scheme didn’t work out as planned, but how was I to know Elon Musk was headed down a dead-end street? My investment in Mattress Firm bombed, as did my franchise in the Vatican Nursery for Boys. So I turned to my financial adviser, and found him at his office on the I-10 median. “What you need to do,” he said, picking up another can, “is get into politics. That’s where the real money is, as I advised Paul Manafort. So run for office. Hand me that Bud Lite, will you? They’re paying a dollar for 10 ponds.”
I announced my candidacy for President on the Bull Moose Party ticket, only to discover the Bull Moose Party ceased to exist in 1916. My announcement that I was running for President on the Know-Nothing Party ticket was greeted with some skepticism when it turned out the Know-Nothing Party collapsed in 1856 and today is known as the Democratic Party. Finally I announced I was running for the U.S. Senate from Texas as an independent. My Republican friends warned me: “So you’re not pro-Trump, you traitorous fake-news commie. You won’t get my vote.” I looked for support from my Democratic friends. “So you’re not anti-Trump, you fascist, jack-booted thug.
You won’t get my vote.” I checked with political independents, only to discover there weren’t any.
At a rally in the second booth from the left at an Arby’s, I vowed: “I will put my country first, be tough on crime and love freedom!” The next night on TV I saw an ad: “‘I will be tough on my country, crime comes first, and am for free love.’ Is this the kind of pervert you want as your senator?” I looked up my financial adviser – it was during Sunday visiting hours. I wailed: “That’s not what I said, and those words are taking out of context.” He smiled across the glass. “Welcome to the wonderful world of American politics. Polls show that voters don’t like negative advertising. These same polls show that negative advertising, indeed, negative campaigns, work wonderfully well. Just ask Crooked Hillary, Little Marco and Lying Ted Cruz, whose father may have been involved in JFK’s assassination. You can’t get the lay of the land unless you get down in the dirt. Time’s up, gotta go.”
All of that may be true, that negative campaigns work, but I was taking the high road. At another rally (the truck stop was open 24 hours), I came across an old kindergarten friend. I said, “Hi, BettySueJean. We used to play together. Remember our fathers were both doctors. You look nice.” She pulled out a recorder. “Thursday night at a truck stop. Molested by a chauvinist pig who obviously has evil intentions. Check video to show proof.” Later I heard a radio spot: “In kindergarten, this molester tried to play ‘doctor’ with a victim we shall call BettySueJean. Is this the kind of pervert you want as your senator?”
Needing to get on TV to push my campaign, I was booked on “Fox & Friends.” Ainsler Earhardt spoke first. “Now tell us all the reasons you love President Trump, and why you will vote for his every bill. To make it easier, here are some bills to vote for.” I explained that I am an independent and would vote according to my own beliefs and those of my fellow Texans, adding: “A silent majority is sick of career politicians and talk radio buffoons who are currently running – and ruining – our political system.” Steve Doocy frowned: “So you’re one of those fake news, Godless despicables who hates America being great again.” Just then Trump called with a list of things for F&F to say. Bouncers hustled me off the stage. I guess I wasn’t a friend to Fox.
I tried the other side and was a guest on the “Rachael Maddow Show.” She laughed a snarky laugh and asked: “So you are an independent without a soul for the little man or woman who is being taken to the cleaners by the Wall Street fat cats. How can you sleep at night? Where are your priorities?” I smiled my campaign smile and replied: “A great question. (I had noticed that all guests on TV begin their answers that way.) My priorities are family, the Marine Corps, country and Texas. Usually they are all the same. I think our nation is being torn apart by us-versus-them blowhards who are getting rich and winning elections by appealing to our fears and worst instincts. If elected I will.…” She cut to a commercial.
My message of compromise, thoughtful opposition and less shouting was not timely nor appreciated. I checked back with my financial adviser, who was working a street corner. He put aside his sign, “Wounded Vet Needs Cash,” got up from his wheelchair, and advised: “Remember what former Texas Ag Commissioner Jim Hightower said, ‘There’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.’ You’ve got to take a stand, but play to their worries. ‘Franklin D. Roosevelt said: ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Fear sells.”
I made a speech to my supporter: “Mexican rapists are pouring across our borders! Crime is rampant!
Vaccinations cause cancer! Global warming is a hoax! My opponents are pedophiles who would take away your machine guns.” I was a smash hit, I told my financial adviser. “Of course you were. Look who you’re dealing with.
Two-thirds of Republicans still think Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and Democrats think they’re going to win Congress. H. L. Menken said, ‘No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.’
The same goes for winning elections.” I told him he was full of spiffy quotes. “I’ve got one more for you,” he replied. “A wise man once said, ‘Demagogues win every time.’” I asked him who was that wise man? He blushed.
Ashby is running scared at email@example.com