October, 18th 2012

Dear Election...

– Liz Mair

Dear Election:

I am giving serious thought to breaking up with you, and I want to put you on notice of that fact, clearly and explicitly, and in terms even you-- with your ADD and disconnect from other people's thoughts and emotions-- can understand.

You may have noticed me being grouchier than normal over the last couple of weeks, and rolling my eyes at things you do more frequently, and in a non-ironic kind of way.

I kind of thought you might have noticed why, all on your very own.

But you have been so tied up with stuff like dishwashing and binders, and so focused on supposed bias and skewed polls, and so willing to flit between these subjects and other trifles on a whim, that I guess paying attention to me and anything I care about has simply been beyond your capabilities.

I know you want to keep my interest, but you're getting very close to losing me for good.

When we first encountered each other, I was skeptical of you.

You told me you'd be the most important election of my lifetime thus far.

You told me that important debates would be had by the candidates and that they would outline their proposed solutions to the greatest challenges facing our nation and there would be stark differences.

You told me this would be so, even though I suspected I'd be asked to choose between President Obama and Mitt Romney, and I felt like that choice was not conducive to producing the situation you described.

But you said I should get involved with you, that you'd prove me wrong, and that our relationship would be worth me investing my attention and my emotions in.

So far, I've had little more to show for it than frustration, exasperation, and irritation.

I've lost sleep some nights thinking about whether this situation can be fixed.

No, it's not me. It really is you. No, really. You sold me a bad deal, and if you changed your ways, it might be worth it, but I'm close to concluding at this point that you don't give a shit and you're wasting my time.

You should know that I've found myself looking at other potential matches, too.

I've always had a very close, intimate even, friendship with the English Premiership (yeah, I know that's been a sore spot for you, and it's made you jealous, but I derive emotional satisfaction from spending time with him that I rarely derive from spending time with you).

I broke up with the world of big business and the financial industry long before we met, back in 2005, but I'll admit it here-- I've been watching CNBC a lot lately. I've even been finding Jim Cramer less annoying than most of the political cable news TV hosts.

I know sometimes I get really tired of running and working out, but lately, they're looking more like friends than my old frenemies, and I've been hanging out with them more as I've looked to get a break-- any break-- from you and the way you try to dominate my time and hoard my attention.

I know you're going to tell me that many more important things hinge on you and my relationship with you than, say, the outcome of any of this weekend's football matches. And to tell you the truth, that's the only reason I've hung around so far.

But it's increasingly clear that you're focused on trivialities, and yesterday's concerns, not about what's about to come across the horizon and doing things now not just to fix the current situation but also prevent problems that I can see coming, but which you dismiss every time I flag them with talk of who strapped a dog to a roof, or who ate a dog, or Olympic horses, or parties with Jay-Z and Beyonce.

You know what these are. We've discussed them before. They include things like:

- the bleak outlook that seems to exist not for women, but rather for non-college-educated, working-class, blue-collar males across the country;

- the rise of China and India and other future economic powerhouses, relative to our standing as a nation. (Yeah, sometimes you'll pay lip service on this one, by talking tax reform or education reform, but really, it's like a peck on the cheek when I want a good, solid 30-minute cuddle-- something else you suck at, by the way);

- the education bubble and what we do about it (I bitched about this one with my previous boyfriends, too, and he never did anything about it-- what is it with you guys?). No, I don't mean just "how do we make college more affordable." I also mean what do we do about the fact that as education has become pricier, students seem to act more and more like "I paid $100k for this education, so even if I'm an ignoramus, you'd better give me a good degree." It's a real problem, and no one seems to be doing or saying much of anything about it, let alone other problems in our educational system;

- what's happening in the Middle East. PLEASE don't give me that stuff about Israel and the Palestinians again. I've heard what you have to say about Iran, too, and yes, that's important, but what I'm talking about here, and you know it, is the increased political engagement of non-elites in the Middle East, whether we encourage that, tolerate and manage it, or supress it, and whatever the answer, how, and why;

- not just unemployment, but what appears to be a problem with wage stagnation that has persisted for many Americans for quite awhile now;

- relatedly, health care and insurance cost inflation-- this, inflation in the cost of college, plus the wage stagnation problem noted above seem to me likely to have contributed to the financial crisis as people took on a lot of debt to pay for things that were becoming more and more unaffordable, tapping out value in their (inflated) home values, and leaving them screwed when the bubble inevitably and eventually burst;

- whether we should allow more immigration and if so, what are we going to do to overhaul our system so it can be done with greater ease legally (you know I support this, but the most I ever seem to hear on the subject is a token mention of H1B visas, or DREAM, which isn't really much at all).

You don't want to talk about these things, but they're going to present real problems in the future. Maybe you can find the wherewithall to address at least a couple of them sometime in the next week? 

Think about it over the weekend. England's Premiership and I will be hanging out then, so you'll have some time and space to think about how to get your act together, and see if you can keep my interest and any level of emotional engagement.

I don't even know how to end this note... but it's definitely not "love," as things stand.

Best (I guess?),

Liz [intro]



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