I did another guest piece for The Shop Tart over the weekend. Basically, it was a column on politics for people who are (at least theoretically) more interested in shopping and eating out. You may recall when I did this earlier, just before the Columbia city election.
It wasn’t one of my best efforts, but you may want to read it anyway. Here’s the operative core of it:
Now, to the contest that really does matter – governor. How to explain this one? Here’s one way: Don’t think about grown-up politics, or about Democrats and Republicans. Think of it as an election for high school class president. You went to high school, so you know these people. Nikki Haley was the girl who got good grades, not because she understood the subject material, but because she had mastered the ability to repeat to the teacher the key phrases. And because she did lots of extracurricular activities, and always insisted on being elected to head them up. And because she knew how to flatter and wheedle teachers, especially the male ones.
You knew this girl in high school. Maybe you WERE that girl in high school, but we won’t say any more about that.
Vincent Sheheen is the nice, quiet kid who would probably wind up being valedictorian, and you’d all be surprised and say, “How did THAT happen?” because he was never particularly pushy or assertive in class. He always asked the dumb questions that everyone else was too cool to ask, because he genuinely wanted to know the answers.
Everybody liked him, but he was never a BMOC. He was tall, and dark, and nice looking, but you weren’t interested, especially because your mom kept saying, “Why don’t you go out with that nice Sheheen boy?” YOU wanted to go out with that mouthy wiseacre who grew up to be Dick Harpootlian.
Vincent wasn’t a football star. He ran track, and was the best in the state at his event, but you never knew that. He also played basketball, but as a team player, never hogging the ball or showing off when he did get around to scoring.
Nikki was the manager of the girl’s softball team on account of her superb organizational skills (just ask her; she’ll tell you), a reputation she managed to maintain even after losing all of the team’s equipment on a road trip. Twice. She blamed what happened on Nancy Pelosi, which was odd, because at the time no one knew anyone named Nancy Pelosi. It was believed that she played shortstop or something.
In the debates for class president, Vincent gave long, thoughtful, boring answers based on having carefully researched the issues, and kept looking at everyone, even his opponent, with that shy, slightly goofy grin. Nikki, by contrast, spoke entirely in crisply-delivered slogans that sounded great – things like “Free parking for Seniors!” If challenged by Vincent – gently, with that same grin – on any of her dubious, but forceful, assertions, her eyes flashed with anger and she looked like she wanted to scratch his eyes out.
Vincent dated a really cute girl who was a cheerleader, and you had a feeling they would get married and in the future would be one of those infuriatingly perfect couples. Nikki had a boyfriend, but no one could remember his name. He was in JROTC or something. Her name was whispered in connection with other boys, and some of the more obnoxious, least popular geeks in the class made dubious claims of having “gone all the way” with her, but no one paid them any mind because no girl in the class would have dreamed of so much as speaking to those creeps, much less…you know.
OK, I’ve carried this analogy about as far as I can, but you get the idea…
There was some serious stuff after that, in which I urged the Tart’s readers to vote for Sheheen, and explained why they should. I may do an expanded version of that here, just as an election-eve summary, if I can shake off this cold-medicine lethargy. I got some kind of allergy or cold thing over the weekend, and am perpetually drowsy…