First of all, take a hammer and hit yourself hard on your right ankle. This will not calm you down, but it will keep you distracted, while you learn enough Spanish to question my mother’s reputation in a way that I can understand without my usual translator. According to my old veterinary handbook, the nervous system is made up of a set of cells that direct, supervise, and control all the activities of our body. Up to the age of 35 they have little work, because everything goes smoothly. At most might give you a rise in blood pressure when your team is losing. But as you are probably aware, beer is a perfect fix for blood pressure, and even though this is not stated in my handbook, it does come in the University Students’ Guidebook under the “controlling your emotions” section — a rigorous pre-scientific text. From the age of 35 onwards, this set of cells in the nervous system acts like Islamic State cells, boycotting communications, obstructing that which should be unobstructed, and, whenever possible, exploding and sending all vital organs flying. Unfortunately however, unlike most political 20th-century problems, this cannot be dealt with by bombing some random country in the Middle East.
Although a breakdown is not necessarily subject to external conditions, it is often the case that a special event — an attack, a tax break, or an election — will ally with your rebel cells to send your blood pressure through the roof. It is then that, if you have not learned how to control it, you will pass out, possibly perceiving, an instant before going towards the light, an angelic blonde nurse, with the smoothest skin and the greenest eyes, who will tell you that everything will be fine, with a smile so beautiful that you will forget that you are moments away from undergoing a life-or-death operation. It is also quite possible you will end up reassuring the young lady that everything will be fine, that the church is beautiful, the priest is a friend, and the guests will make her wedding the happiest day of your lives. She will nod her head, smiling, but only because she knows you’re under anesthesia and your brain is more frizzled than a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Blonde, smooth-skinned, green-eyed nurses are immensely compassionate, yes, but they never marry patients, for the same simple reason no one buys broken goods.
The external condition threatening to push you over the edge these days is none other than your date with the ballot box. It’s a whole lot of built-up adrenaline. If when you sleep you hear voices saying, “C’mon man! Are you a junkie? C’mon man” in rap remix rhythm, or if when you wake up you see Trump’s face burnt into your toast, in the damp patches on the ceiling, or in the coffee sediments at the bottom of the mug, it’s a sure sign that you need to disconnect a little if you are to get to November 3 alive, although I’m not suggesting that that’s such a great idea either. What happened to Lady Di was tragic, but put in perspective, at least she has been lucky enough to be spared the 2020 election process.
No doubt with the mental health of their people in mind, throughout history many civilizations have tried to protect themselves from electoral processes in the most picturesque ways. The chief of the Mayas, the halach uinik, governed his region in the name of the gods of his pantheon, and the position was passed down from father to son, so if anyone tried to call elections, they would be lynched as per the traditional Mayan punishment and ought to be thankful that they weren’t dismembered and eaten, as the Aztecs would no doubt have done with great pleasure, in the sort of rituals rich with diversity, human rights, and folklore that the Spaniards put an end to in the name of Christ, the same Spaniards whose statues are being torn down by the Left.
The Celts, for example, chose their warlords in assembly, through little more than the attendants’ acclaim following a more or less convincing speech. But even though the assembly represented the people, to participate one had to be of an age to carry arms, which reduced the chances of meeting to plan to pave the villages and put up lanterns, more often than not preferring to demand their chief go to war and crush the enemy in as much haste as possible. The election by Celtic acclamation could also be preceded by a duel in which two charismatic candidates fought each other to the death in a rather savage manner, resulting quite similar to the American format, although without Chris Wallace fiddling with his glasses in the background.
If we look back, however, hardly anyone cared about political matters as passionately as we do now, except for the Greeks, who were busy building the foundations of the classical world. With no democratic elections or UN observers carrying suspicious briefcases, the cultures of the past gave power to today’s leaders. But perhaps tomorrow they would decide to burn them at the stake if they lost the war or had a bad harvest. And as for lying or amoral candidates, what I have been able to read in ancient documents is that they were often thrown into a crocodile pit while local gurus chanted their nonsensical chants, rolling their eyes in a trance and pronouncing letters that sounded nice, like most vowels, as if it were a Hillary Clinton speech.
To the contemporary observer eager for prime-time debates it may seem awful to admit to the violence that accompanied the electoral processes of old, but some time ago Churchill settled this issue: “Politics is more dangerous than war, because in war one dies only once.” So when you are about to lose your cool, when you see the political apocalypse looming over your nightmares, remember these words of Churchill, forget politics for a while, and put on a documentary about human sacrifices in the Mayan times, and try to forget that the master of ceremonies bears a strange resemblance to Kamala Harris.
If, despite these considerations, you are tempted to lose your temper, sit at your computer and tweet in capital letters as much as you can. I don’t know how this acts on those damn cells in the nervous system, but it works for Trump. Biden would love to do it too, if he could remember where he left his computer five minutes ago.
Itxu Díaz is a Spanish journalist, political satirist and author. He has written nine books on topics as diverse as politics, music, and smart appliances. He is a contributor to the Daily Beast, the Daily Caller, National Review, the American Conservative, The American Spectator, and Diario Las Américas in the United States, and is a columnist for several Spanish magazines and newspapers. He was also an adviser to the Ministry for Education, Culture, and Sports in Spain. Follow him on Twitter at @itxudiaz or visit his website www.itxudiaz.com.
Translated by Joel Dalmau