A Tale of Two Candidates

by | Jun 2, 2015 | Atticus On The Trail, Creative Nonfiction, Politics

STATESBORO, GEORGIA – In the early days of the campaign, usually around the beginnings of the Summer Before, potential-candidates get a chronic case of Restless Leg Syndrome and are in constant danger of sprinting like a jackrabbit into traffic and bouncing from sedan to pick-up in a mad fit of presidential fever. It’s a heat that only the most sexually frustrated creatures on the Earth can relate to, a desire that threatens to vibrate them right from this mortal coil and to whatever sex-organ-laden Hell awaits us in the next.

The Republicans are in full-on Lust Madness as every politician who’s ever so much as sniffed a national news or morning show is tossing his hat in the ring, the thrust and sprint of it all threatening to trample anyone unlucky enough to be caught in the fray.

To their credit, the Democrats have at least shown some restraint. Hillary got in when her team of data-scientists told her it was most optimal and Bernie Sanders flung his name in the morning he woke up and decided it was prudent. On Saturday, Martin O’Malley ended his long-term flirtation with candidacy and supposedly Lincoln Chafee, certifiable weathervane and nutjob, is set to join in a matter of days.

It’s hard to tell if Joe Biden, who has already been told by the DNC that he’s not welcome, or perhaps Alan Grayson or one of the Castro brothers will join them–the latter being the most doubtful as I’ve got a hundred percent faith that Julian Castro has already been offered the VP slot by Clinton World and has undoubtedly accepted–but chances are, for better or worse, we’re now looking at the whole of the Left’s field.


Lincoln ChafeeFirst, Chaffee, because he isn’t worth much of our time.

Anyone interested in what a political opportunist looks like should take a few minutes perusing his history. This is a man who has gone from Republican to Independent and now has a chance to stand on the stage as a Democratic candidate for the Highest Office in the Land. This is a man whose numbers were so bad as governor of Rhode Island that his team, a patchwork assembly of wild-eyed northeastern political operatives, decided it most advantageous if he went ahead and chose not to run for re-election.

Oh, and he set off a state-crisis by dropping the “Christmas” from the the Rhode Island Christmas tree, thus tossing kerosene onto whatever idiot “War Against Christmas” bullshit FOX News and the NY Post have been peddling for nearly a decade now.

He is not a serious man and this is not a serious candidacy. What Chafee is doing here is hoping that a debate or two, or an influx of small donors, can float his brand into new territory and earn himself a talk show on Sirius/XM or maybe a talking-head gig on CNN. This is the new breed of politics in which the race for the presidency has been distorted into the newest and brightest reality television series in the world, a pageant where suitors can audition for the love and adoration of Big Media and The Public At-Large.

Chafee should be ashamed of himself, but men like Chafee don’t understand concepts like shame.


O’Malley though, that’s a nut of a different color.

This morning, in Baltimore, in front of an animated crowd, he announced that he’s seeking the presidency and that he’s doing it “For The American Dream.”

Rhetoric like that isn’t hard to come by, but the kind of video and candor with which he did it, those are rare qualities.

Simply put, O’Malley could very well be the real deal. Those who are hip to politics and have spent any amount of time in a campaign office can tell you within seconds if a competitor is a serious threat in an election. There are too many wimps and charlatans flooding the airwaves for the difference not to be noticeable. Most are just there for the free booze and exposure (see “Chafee, Lincoln”) or to hug the glow of the TV cameras for awhile (see “Edwards, John”), but occasionally you navigate your way through the scum and the filth and find yourself staring at what could actually be the Genuine Article.

Barack Obama based the entirety of his campaign on this phenomenon and Rick Santorum, most have chosen to forget this in recent years or ignored it completely, grasped hold of the spectacle of political candor for at least two weeks in 2012. Before that: Howard Dean and William Jefferson Clinton.

The effect is total because it’s an intoxicating feeling to actually believe what a politician is saying from behind the podium and maybe that’s simply because we’ve slouched into a generation of frauds and counterfeits, an era of the unreal and the gutless. Whatever the reason, there’s a real power to the Genuine Article that cannot be bought, created, or sold, no matter what marketing firm or political machine has thrown its weight behind the endeavor.

This is Hillary’s Achilles’ Heel.

Now, it’s debatable whether Hillary is a fraud. Those who watched her battle Obama in 2008 have their feelings about the subject and aren’t afraid to make their case, but there’s a very real chance that Hillary is in this thing to make the country better and lead a new generation toward prosperity and the realization of the American Dream.

But that’s only a possibility.

Even her most ardent supporters admit that Hillary is calculating.

That she’s analyzing to the point of coldness.

That there’s always the suspicion that she’s just saying what needs to be said.

In 2004, that artfulness was enough to hand her a loss in Iowa and then an eventual defeat at the hands of a first-term senator from Illinois. It wasn’t so much that it was true that she was disingenuous, but rather that she cultivated an air that she might be.

Of course, that was seven years ago, a lifetime in politics and in life as well. Hillary and her team of analysts and advisers, the best that money can buy, have worked around the clock on improving this perception, but the funny thing about working to dispel worries of dishonesty is that you can usually only dig the hole deeper.

So: how deep can the hole get?


This is all puppy-love though.

You don’t follow politics as long as I have without that realization and the knowledge that I have a propensity toward addictive things. Booze. Women. The Allure of a Night Worth Chasing. When I was nineteen years old I watched myself burn through all of my money and savings under the neon lights of a second-rate casino in Windsor, Ontario and came away with an appreciation for the bullhammer lust of gambling. It was that same lust that sent me to Iowa in 2004 to go door-to-door for Howard Dean just days ahead of one of the most soul-crushing and hope-devouring losses a politician has ever been handed.

The O’Malley campaign has all the qualities that get the old political libido going.

Calls to level the field.

Promises to restore fairness and equality.

Real comments on Things of Substance and Issues of National Importance.

Christ. He might be dead in the water before Labor Day.

Surely Clinton World is well aware of O’Malley and has already calculated a fool-proof plan to cut his nuts off. They’ve seen the ascendancy of Obama and they know how dangerous it is to let a Genuine Article stay in the race for long.

Here soon, we’re going to hear whispers that O’Malley’s governorship and mayorship in Baltimore were the reason behind the recent riots and unrest.

The murmur has already began, no doubt, and it’ll become a national conversation before O’Malley’s allowed to hit five percent in any of the polls. Because if not, he’ll hit at least twenty in Iowa before October and will go into the caucuses he’ll be neck-and-neck with HRC. There’s no doubt he’s the type of candidate liberal Iowans are into, and by god do they love showing the country their clout in determining nominees.

The real enemy for O’Malley, however, isn’t Clinton World or HRC or anything even remotely affiliated with the DNC.

Well, maybe that’s saying a bit too much.

In his presidential candidacy announcement, his big targets were the banks and bankers responsible for the 2008 Financial Crisis, a conglomerate of villains and swine so evil and dreadful that they make warlords and despots look like kindergarten teachers. He called for breaking up their national apparatus and trying them for their transgressions. Insiders know this is the new Third Rail, the onus being taken off of Social Security and onto the new Corporate-Military-Industrial Complex Triad that now dominates the American way of life.

Why, if you listen right now, you can hear the sound of digital sums being transported across the electronic airwaves as the banks slough off massive amounts of donations toward Clinton World and the Bush Compound in Deep Dark Texas, as they pad those war chests with enough money to buy the religious-like devotion of the Next American President.

So it is written, so it shall be done.


Illustration credit: Martin O’Malley Caricature and Lincoln Chafee Caricature by DonkeyHotey

About The Author

Jared Yates Sexton

A born and bred Hoosier, Jared Yates Sexton is the author of An End to All Things (2012, Atticus Books), The Hook and the Haymaker (2015, Split Lip Press), and Bring Me the Head of Yorkie Goodman (2015, New Pulp Press). He currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Georgia Southern University.