I think it’s safe to say we’re witnessing the most exciting presidential election of our lifetimes. First black president was pretty cool, but first woman president is similarly significant, and first fascist TV-star president and/or disintegration of the Republican Party pushes it right over the top. Surely this is not the most interesting US presidential election ever, though. The election of 1860 was pretty hot. So was 1924. In these lively times, when so much seems unprecedentedly awful, we are wise to turn to the even more awful stuff that already happened. Today is Friday, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Won’t you peruse the lessons of history with me?
Ted Cruz has formally entered the 2016 presidential race, announcing his candidacy this morning at Liberty University. And what better analogue for his brand of conservatism than a college founded by a televangelist? As the Telegraph reminds us, Liberty University teaches that the Earth is 6000 years old and notes the “strong possibility that horses, zebras and donkeys are all descended from an original pair of horses that were on Noah’s Ark.” That’s only a possibility, though; we shouldn’t assume anything until we can do more research. Cruz is a Baptist, but he didn’t go to Liberty University. He went to Princeton. That, dear reader, is the senator from Texas in a nutshell.
It’s been a long time since we last caught a glimpse of the teddy bear’s picnic inside Michele Bachmann’s head, but we can now triangulate one more point in that extradimensional manifold. Inside Michele Bachmann’s head, the Revolutionary War began in New Hampshire. Speaking to that state’s Republican Liberty Caucus on Saturday, Bachmann observed that “What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty. You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” Of course, that was not true. Massachusetts is the state where the shot was heard ’round the world, or rather the world is the place where the shot was heard et cetera, and Massachusetts is the state where it was fired. It can be tough to remember, so I encouraged my students to use the following mnemonic device: the Battles of Lexington and Concorde took place at Lexington and Concorde, which continue to be located in Massachusetts, you stooge. It’s better if you can hear the song.
Believe it or not, I actually agree with Sarah Palin about some things. For example, we both think that the media contributes to a climate of incivility in our political discourse. We both enjoy salmon. We both make our living by producing as many words as possible on short notice. And, most importantly, we both believe in American exceptionalism. The United States is the first country built around an idea rather than an ethnic group. As a corollary to that idea, we are one of the few nations without a hereditary aristocracy. That’s why I was extremely chagrined to see this article, in which Bristol Palin announces her intention to run for public office “somewhere down the road.” Props to the nameless Combat! reader* who sent me the link via Sarah Aswell.