By Dick Valentine at 7:47 AM Monday, March 5th 2012
I am honored to have been asked by Antiquiet to do a little political blogging during the season of this 2012 American presidential contest. As a touring musician, I have a lot of downtime when I’m on the road… and even more when I’m off the road. Over the last decade, I’ve found myself becoming quite the fan (and troll) of countless political blogs from both sides of the only two points of view that we are allowed to have. After years of reading and posting thousands of cowardly anonymous comments, I am ready to take the plunge and post my own political blog, with my own opinions. I have always feared confrontation and I don’t want anyone to yell at me or be angry with me. Just take it easy.
The modern American political discourse is hilarious. It’s amazing to see people have such strong opinions concerning people they’ve never met. Of course, that people have strong opinions concerning people they’ve never met is the desired effect. If the electorate is led to believe that politicians can destroy livelihoods or make everything super-awesome with a single vote, then they are going to seek out more and more media to learn more about these people or to validate their opinions. People seeking out more and more media see more advertising on websites and buy more books written by Bill O’Reilly. If you are willing to become Satan incarnate to half the people in this country, you stand a real good chance of selling copies of your hardcover book about keeping hippies off your lawn to the other half.
As a self-professed political coward, I know from experience that the easiest copout is to say “I’m a single-issue voter.” I used to be able to say that with regards to the presidency, but unfortunately the whole Bush / Cheney / Rumsfeld / Wolfowitz experiment in Iraq that began 9 years ago has transformed me into a two-issue voter. I used to honestly say, “I’m voting for the candidate I most want to see on television.” Now I say, “I’m voting for the candidate I most want to see on television and the candidate least likely to start an ill-conceived ‘pre-emptive’ military engagement with Iran.” As it was in 2008, that candidate, to me, is Barack Obama.
Now, we’ve got all summer to discuss the ins and outs of the second part of my voting formula, the Iran part. I’m not getting into that right now. I’m going to focus on the first part, the part about voting solely based on whom I want to see on television. It really is that simple. Taxes? I’ve never honestly felt the impact of tax fluctuation one way or the other at any point in my life. I can’t say that Bush being president made me plan my financial life any differently than I did when Clinton was president. And now that Obama is there, same thing. Nothing’s changed. And no matter how many talking heads on the cables or drunk uncles in Ohio tell me that taxes going up or down should anger me or stoke some sort of emotion out of me… it just hasn’t happened yet.
Go up and down the list. Education. Jobs. Energy. Immigration. Dancing with the Stars. None of it really seems to have changed nor ever will change no matter who occupies the White House. Gay marriage? Okay, I’d like to see that happen, that’s good. So sure, I probably pull the donkey lever for that reason too.
But the only time I’ve ever actually seen a president moving and talking and whatnot… is on television. I’ve never been in the same room as a president. I’ve never run into a president on the street or sucked one off at an airport bathroom. It just doesn’t happen. I was at a campaign event for Michael Dukakis in 1988. So I saw him in person. And after that, I didn’t want to see him on television again. I couldn’t vote then anyway. But I would have done so because Michael Stipe was telling people to vote for him and in 1988 I would have eaten a live ferret if Michael Stipe told me to. I doubt he would have though, as he was a vegetarian then.
I digress. And I ramble. You know what I mean by just wanting to be comfortable with the person you are seeing on television. I like the televised Obama. I should write that book… ”The Televised Obama.” Then I could be on television too! I digress again. Sorry. I was saying I like the televised Obama. He’s calm, he’s got good comedic chops when he needs them and, as my wife often says, he is reminiscent of Fred Astaire. That’s good enough for me!
But lately, I find myself actually wanting to see four years of Mitt Romney on television as our president. I think it would be fascinating. The reasons are completely different than the way I want to see Obama on television. I want to see Obama because I like his media persona and I am comfortable with him representing our country as its head-of-state.
I want to see Mitt Romney on television as our president because I think it will be funny.
I first became aware of Romney in 2008 when he first ran and I was instantly captivated. He was the most unreal candidate I’d ever seen. He was weird, out-of-touch, robotic, inhuman, weird, sober-to-a-fault, anachronistic, weird, weird and weird. And this was 2008… before it was cool to interpret him that way. Back then, everyone was like “Isn’t he great? Why, he just looks like a president!!!!! And he’s got… MONEY!!!” Now most people seem to get it. The guy’s a fucking weirdo.
It was a lonely place to be in 2008. I went through a period where I couldn’t stop googling Mitt Romney. I thought there had to be an answer out there as to why he was the way he was. Who the fuck thinks it’s a good idea to have this guy around, let alone put him forward as our head of state?? Maybe he was an alien? A reptile? Maybe he was engineered in a lab? He sure wasn’t coming across as human.
I researched. And I researched. Nothing. No answers. Just “born in Michigan,” “son of the Michigan governor,” “married wife Ann,” etc. etc. Some such about being “Mormon.” Absolutely no proof of extra-terrestrial origin.
I’d ask my Republican step-dad if he heard anything, any chatter on the street. Any small clue that might blow the whole thing wide open and expose Mitt Romney as a reptilian cyborg. He’d just respond with “I think he’s what this country needs right now.” Ugh.
So I needed an outlet. I needed to make sense of the strange emotions I was feeling because of Mitt Romney. It was 2008 and everyone was talking about Sarah Palin, totally ignoring the fact Mitt Romney was making me feel very weird. So I turned to the only place I knew where to go to find some sort of solace. I turned… to art.
Without knowing what I was doing or why, I began to put together a couple shitty iMovie collages that tried to show to the world how Mitt Romney was making me feel. I compiled pictures of Romney and strung them together with quick cuts and budget effects designed to convey that Romney was not to be taken at face value. I made sure the audio was grating, surreal… so I recorded vocals in a helium voice.
The results are here in the collages Romney Disco and Reintepreting Romney. I posted these to YouTube in 2008… as cries for help. I needed someone to tell me why Mitt Romney was happening to me and why he made me feel horrible about everything. To date, my collages have only been viewed by a couple hundred people. Most of the comments left are by Romney supporters who seem to think I’m an idiot.
Maybe they’re right. But I never got the answers I was looking for.
Five years later, I’m doing okay. I eat solid food again and most days I honestly don’t even notice Mitt Romney. I’m even at the point where if he’s on television as our president, I’m gonna think it’s fucking hilarious.
But please don’t get me started on his five sons. I’ll go there in my next blog…
Dick Valentine is a guest political blogger for Antiquiet. He is best known as the singer for the Detroit band Electric Six. Electric Six has 8 studio albums and they are recording and releasing their first live album later this year. Valentine is also self-releasing his first solo acoustic CD Destroy The Children this May.