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  • Writer's pictureRichard Murff

The Circus Maximus Project

2024 presidential race

Voting in America has become a like embracing Dr. Johnson’s dictum about second marriages as “the triumph of hope over experience.” How much cheap pep-rally hope can politicians expect ring out a semi-sentient adult these days?

On balance, most of us have reached the end of our tether. You’re smart, so am I. Chances are that we both hold down a job, manage a household, have children who are no more tiresome than good kids are. Like me, you have good ideas, love your country, and want to contribute to the Republic. So why is it that every time we vote, we get such horrible results?

Let’s run the numbers: We have a republic with roughly 152 million people who meet the requirements to hold the office President of the United States. If want to be elitist about it let’s throw out the bottom 90% of that pool. We’ve got to have somestandards. We are still looking at some 15.2 million people in the top 10% as reasonably competent options.

Now, let us assume further that, like me, the vast majority of those eligible Americans have enough sense to not want to be president in the first place – let’s say, again, 90%. That still leaves us with a about 1.5 million reasonable, willing candidates. Even accounting for scheduling conflicts, distracting divorces and crippling hemorrhoids, that number is still… well it’s a hell of a lot higher than two.

Yet, in 2016, we were offered a grim choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump: two immensely unlikeable, divisive candidates who’d been outrunning scandal and corruption charges their entire professional lives. Polling showed that 75-80% of us knew that both candidates were a terrible idea. Sure, there was a Libertarian vote, but there is always a whiff of “Festivus” about third parties. Yes, things have gotten messy and it’s a noble idea, but the execution is a bit too whacky to be taken seriously. So it was hold your nose, cast your vote, go home and pray that the whole thing had been a tragic anomaly.

As it was, the 2020 election ushered a horrifying new normal that is somehow trending downward. The race for 2024 has started, and with two years to ponder better than a million reasonable and willing choices, we are likely facing the reheated geriatrics from last time. This would be more bearable if our representatives in Washington DC just yelled at each other while the productive citizens got to work. Yet we keep getting theatrical trade wars and social engineering masquerading as industrial policy. Such is the plumbing of the national political machines that the madness reaches down to the local level to affect issues that really will trip up our lives: visceral, localized issues like schools, crime and the very electoral process itself.

And yet the common sense of the independent American voter has been openly dismissed in favor of radical ideologies, loyalty oaths, cancel culture and raising the theatrical over competence or even commons sense. This is our republic, not theirs. You have a vote, so make it count.

To wit: the 4717’s Circus Maximus project will feature guest writers - some necessarily anonymous - offering the same blend of history, wit and analysis to discuss what fresh hell is around the corner for this American experiment. We aren’t staking out a position in this current chaos, but aims to test the counter-intuitive thinking that starts conversations and triggers debate.

After that, you can make up your own damn mind.

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