Archive for November 2012

I dreamed I covered a presidential election in a swing state. What a weird dream.

November 30, 2012

It was the strangest dream.  In it, two men spent many months and hundreds of millions of other people’s money, each to establish that the other is wrong about almost everything.

All of us were there, churning out thousands of words each day to suggest that we were taking the two men seriously.

With earnest minds and hearts, and with all the skill we could  muster, we documented many months of local campaign events that featured partisan denunciations of one man or the other by special guests — governors and congressmen, current and former bureaucrats, musicians, actors, war veterans. All of them repeated the same phrases, again and again. After some time, we were able to whisper the words right along with them, like a prayer.

In the dream, thousands of ordinary Nevadans went to great lengths to see the two men in person. They arrived in the early morning to stand in long lines to get into venues that were too small to seat them all.  Once inside, they stood on one foot and then the other, often on concrete floors, and they leaned against the metal barriers that separated them from the press.  They waited and waited, sometimes for two hours or more, to get a 20-minute visit from their candidate, whose face or name was sometimes emblazoned on their T-shirts, and who was often late, and who generally repeated exactly the same words he’d said on last night’s news, and on this morning’s talk show, and had already posted to Facebook.

And the ordinary Nevadans went wild for it.  (You know how strange dreams can be.)  They cheered and they clapped, and they willingly spoke with reporters, who eagerly sought their opinions, because in no case was a reporter allowed near the candidates themselves, and so the reporters had nobody to talk to except each other, or these eager crowds of partisans who happily repeated the same words the reporters already knew by heart (like the alphabet).

Every few weeks, it happened all over again.  Again and again. And the events were called rallies, because they certainly were not anything else, and nobody was learning anything, or benefitting in any way, except the two men themselves, whose respective teams were able to summon cameras and reporters with laptops at a moment’s notice, and to command more free messaging on top of all the paid messaging, until every ordinary Nevadan was able to say all the phrases from memory, like the Pledge of Allegiance.

And in the dream, the contest day arrived.  The Nevadans came out of the polling places, and the reporters were assigned to ask them how they voted — who they supported, and why.  The voters repeated the phrases perfectly. Even the most preposterous and mistaken and offensive phrase was committed to memory, like a prayer, and almost all of the voters, who were now not so pleased to have a reporter’s microphone in their faces, were able to say exactly what it was that made them support one man or the other, and the reporters were able to whisper the words right along with them, like lines from a classic old movie we’d all seen dozens of times.

A few weeks after one of the men won the contest, they exchanged a hearty handshake and sat down together for some turkey chili at lunchtime, even as their respective teams of allies were brawling in public over the very issues the two men told us their contest would settle.

What a weird dream, huh?