The best way I can describe the 2012 presidential campaign is to liken it to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Created by the late Douglas Adams in 1978 as a serial for BBC Radio, it has since gone on to become a novel, a TV mini-series, a primitive computer game, and eventually a major motion picture.
For those of you unfamiliar with The Hitchhiker’s Guide, it tells the story of Arthur Dent who woke up one morning to see that his home was about to be destroyed by the town to make room for a bypass. However, his friend Ford Prefect comes along with urgent news. Ford tells Arthur that he is not from Guildford but rather from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse. Not only that, but the world is about to end in ten minutes. The Earth is about to be destroyed by a Vogon constructor ship to make way for a hyperspace express route. Fortunately for Arthur, Ford has come to save his life and has taken him through a matter transference beam and hitched a ride on the Vogon constructor fleet.
Vogons, “although not evil, are a bad tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous race who wouldn’t even lift a finger to save their own grandmothers from the ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.” If Arthur and Ford are lucky, they will be thrown off the ship. If Arthur and Ford are unlucky, they might be subjected to a reading of Vogon poetry, which is said to be the third worse in the entire universe.
As Ford tells Arthur, “It’s a tough universe. There’s all sort of people and things trying to do you, kill you, rip you off, everything. If you’re going to survive out there, you’ve really got to know where your towel is.”
Fortunately for Arthur and Ford, after they are thrown off the Vogon ship they are rescued by Ford’s semi-half-cousin Zaphod Beeblebrox, his assistant Trillian, and a robot with serious depression and a planet-sized brain named Marvin. To Arthur’s dismay, he had met Trillian at a party and was going to buy her a drink when she was whisked away by Zaphod.
As they traverse across the universe, they are aided by the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (arguably the first e-book), which features the phrase “DON’T PANIC” on its cover written in large friendly letters.
Although it is highly unlikely any American will find himself in outer space wearing a bathrobe, I think that many an American voter is not too far removed from the plight of Arthur Dent. He’s basically an honest, decent, hard-working fellow. Unfortunately, his honesty, decency, and diligence are no match for the arbitrary, capricious, and obtuse nature of a local government determined to tear down his home by order of eminent domain.
He may have even voted for Barack Obama four years ago but now finds himself disappointed and disillusioned with Obama for bringing about despair and doubt instead of hope and change. Over the past four years, this Obama voter may have had his mind changed by a good friend who had introduced him to such literary tracts as Where Obama Went Wrong, Some More of Obama’s Greatest Mistakes, and Who Is This Obama Person Anyway?
Although Obama might not have destroyed America and replaced it with a bypass made of solar panels, these Arthur Dents have come to believe that he has transformed this country into something beyond our recognition. They see a federal government that, while not evil, is a bad tempered bureaucratic, officious, and callous class of people who wouldn’t lift a finger to save their grandmothers from the ravenous Independent Payment Advisory Board.
Regrettably, honest, decent Americans who dare to raise an objection to Obama’s policies are put upon and branded as racists, Neanderthals, and otherwise deemed unworthy of inclusion in polite society. Such people run the risk of being swept up by an Obama campaign bus, being force fed his speeches before being unceremoniously dumped on the South Side of Chicago.
The Arthur Dents of this country are also not quite sure what to make of Mitt Romney. The media insists he is a tax cheating murderer who believes that the answer to life, the universe, and everything is 47 rather than 42. Yet the Arthur Dents see Romney as mostly harmless. As much as they have come to dislike Obama, they don’t know if being mostly harmless is a quality that would be any match for the being revered in some quarters as if he truly were The Anointed One.
Despite these odds, I say DON’T PANIC. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the 2012 Presidential Race is incomplete. The debates have yet to begin. So for goodness sake, don’t throw in your towel. You may need it. So make sure you know where your towel is.