Let me tell you a little story. Perhaps it won’t be very compelling or important, and perhaps the opinion of one slightly unhinged free lance writer means nothing, but the truth is I never voted in my life until 2008.

Everyone at the polling place knew who I was voting for, due to my age and demeanor. There were a shit ton of us, all there to put a vote in for Barack Obama, which really rubbed the old folks raw. These were the people who voted every election cycle without fail, and now had to contend with a wave of urban hipsters and other artsy types. A man walked in behind us and barked ‘Bliss, Republican!’ at the little old ladies working the polls, all of whom puffed up their chests and yelled back that he needn’t be such an ass about it.

Come on, we were all excited. It’s not that I thought racial harmony would dawn or that Obama was anything other than a politician. I just thought that his election was a sign of things to come, i.e. people finally abandoning all the nonsense ideas about the completely bullshit concept of race. Also, Sarah Palin scared the fuck out of me.

So I did it, and I only felt good about it for a little while. Because things went bad soon after. Obama was about as predictable as any other politician, meaning he sold out everyone who put him in office almost instantly, which is depressing enough without taking into account the way most people reacted to him.

He’s a Muslim socialist. He’s a Muslim and a socialist, say the people who have no fucking idea what either word means. He’s in a sleeper cell! I saw him snort a whole baby off a hooker’s ass! He’s making Lil’ Wayne Secretary of State!

Anytime you support anything it becomes your problem. Now, just because I voted for Obama (also, please consider that a working class atheist with psychotic tendencies has no business voting republican), suddenly it’s like we’re talking about sports; ‘your boy’s really tanking in the play offs, your team sucks.’ Everything he does is my fault.

They’re not my team, OK, I don’t have a team. I’m trying to affect that whole lone wolf, out on my own image, and it doesn’t help when I have democratic fundraisers calling my house asking me to help them out again. Seriously, it was just that one time, I was drunk, he told me all kinds of nice things and I foolishly believed him. My voter registration card says ‘no affiliation’ which I am irrationally proud of. It doesn’t say democrat or republican or independent (which actually means ‘democrat or republican who has pissed off their respective party’).

But as the presidential election swings around again, I’ve begun asking myself what I should do this time. I stayed away for the midterm elections, because I wouldn’t elect most of those people to municipal dog catcher. But this time I feel obligated, if only to prove everyone wrong who claimed that those who voted for Obama last time will stay home the next. So I’m voting for the dead guy.

Not Aleister Crowley, thought it’s tempting. I’m writing in Hunter S. Thompson. He has prior political experience, he’s progressive, he’s a doctor of divinity. Did I mention that he’s dead? Oh who gives a fuck, republicans would posthumously nominate Ronald Reagan if they could, and he was dead for most of his two terms.

We need a man like Hunter to sort us out. Someone who can espouse the level headedness of progressive principles while also not taking any shit from anyone. Because, let’s face it, while democrats most often are on the right side of the argument, they tend to lose ground to the mewling hordes of conservatives and their well practiced indignation. We need a man with an elephant gun and a machete on his hip, a man who takes a cattle prod to a casual setting and isn’t afraid to use it. We need a man who says things like, “Play your own game, be your own man, don’t ask anybody for a stamp of approval,” (from Fear and Loathing in America: The Gonzo Letters, Volume II, 1968-1976) which are words to both live and die by. We need an artist who also appreciates high power weaponry and fortified compounds, a patriot in the true sense of the word.

Thompson didn’t espouse that stupid ‘my country, right or wrong’ brand of patriotism that is so popular in this one note world. He despised the government and figures like Richard Nixon, whom he considered repellant. But he recognized that those of us who are lucky enough to be birthed on American soil have a responsibility to uphold the principles of the democracy. Which are sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Well, they should be.

This opens up a whole new world of voting. My spouse and I have considered voting for each other. I could write in Bill Hicks or Socrates or Rowdy Roddy Piper. I could write you in. What about it, would you like to be president? If enough of us get together we could vote in a table lamp or a hunk of cheese. Surely this would be preferable to whomever the tea party picks.

It’s Election Season across the USA,  which means there’s a lot of terrific television programs on to distract you from voting. Complicating matters, the howling ads interrupting those terrific television programs often distract from the real issues at stake: how exactly is the government wasting your hard-earned money this time around?

This handy guide attempts to clarify the tangible benefits of government programs to you, the humble internet-faring, presumably young/hipsterish taxpayer, via three basic categories: government programs that help, government programs that are probably screwing you over, and government programs that nobody understands.

GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS THAT HELP

Emergency Services

I’ve always romanticized being a cop, so when a life of office work snared me I turned to 911 to vicariously live my dream job. In the past three years, I’ve used 911 to call in a Mexican teen receiving a blowjob in the children’s park across the street from my house (in broad daylight on the Fourth of July), a Mexican covered in blood leaning against a elementary school wall, and another Mexican writhing on the sidewalk with cuts on his arm and a hospital band on his wrist. Not to make unfair generalizations, but the nation of Mexico owes me a few tacos on the house.

Department of Defense

You can’t ignore the DoD’s perfect record of preventing foreign invasion of American territory, Pearl Harbor notwithstanding. Also, we could be drafted at any time—Iran lobs one nuke at Tel Aviv, and the laws will change overnight—so I’ll use the remainder of this space to underscore my nearsightedness, flat feet, lengthy track record of conscientious objection, extreme allergy to gunpowder, and heartfelt affection for United States military personnel.

Health Care

Seven years ago, Blue Shield rejected me because I’d had a wart on my thumb two years prior. I had to go without formal health care for a year, instead procuring medical advice from night-shift pharmacists, hippie free clinics, and the internet. It was a thrilling experience, in the same way climbing up a sheer rock face in a thunderstorm while juggling chainsaws is thrilling. Pretty much anything would be an improvement.

Roads

Until you get that jetpack up and running, you’ll likely take roads to get around. Personally, I find that while my local Northern California roads are ranked among the worst in the nation in terms of quality, they should be ranked first in the nation in terms of breathtaking scenery. Moreover, my regional snow-removal teams are second-to-none, making premium powder skiing accessible even in a blizzard. Here’s to roads for making it happen.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Did you see that picture Arnold posted making fun of Sarah Palin looking for Russia from Alaska? I totally retweeted it.


GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS THAT ARE PROBABLY SCREWING YOU OVER

Social Security

It’s an open national secret that Social Security won’t exist in forty years, right about the time we’ll need it. However, my generation is getting accustomed to living shittier, and we aren’t putting up much of a fight on this one. Thus, I toss Social Security in the same pile as pensions, reasonably priced health insurance, three-martini lunches, regular churchgoing, four-week vacations, affordable concert tickets, and marriage for life—myths invented by our ancestors and passed down over the generations to pacify the masses.

Subsidies

On the one hand, Doritos and gas are cheap, fostering a nation dominated by lazy flab-asses. On the other hand, organic vegetables and solar panels are expensive, fostering a snooty elitist minority that isn’t much fun at a Super Bowl party. I won’t rest until everyone in American can enjoy a lively Super Bowl party dip of organic guacamole at a fair price.

Bank Bailout

Let’s say you’re at a casino. One distinguished gentleman—let’s call him Charles Barkley—steps to the high-roller table and proceeds to lose a fortune on Pai Gow Poker. As a result, the casino asks all the other patrons to float Charles a loan to cover his bartab, hotel suite, steak dinners, and escort services. Just another reason why I consider the NBA unwatchable.

Iraq

All that fighting, the lives lost, the nations in turmoil, the enormous expense—and we didn’t even get the oil. Plus, Avatar totally should’ve beat The Hurt Locker at the Oscars.

Investment in Innovation

Think of all the terrific advances of recent times, everything from the iPod Nano to the iPhone and even the iPad or—could it be true?—the Verizon iPhone. Not a single one was invented by the government.


GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS NOBODY UNDERSTANDS

Taxes

An unimaginably boring topic, especially for a nation lagging in math and science as badly as this one. Thus, we primitively revert to the Law of the Limbo Stick: lower is always better, unless you’re really rich and about to die.

Medicare and Medicaid

Always remind me of Tweedledum and Tweedledee.


“You don’t know the history of psychiatry,” Tom Cruise famously told Matt Lauer.“I do.”

“I want to be the face of depression,” Delta Burke once said.

“This is the new AIDS anthem,” Liza Minnelli proclaimed before singing a song no one ever heard again.

Wifey’s from Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.  My college roomie and long time business partner is from Wausau, WI, married to a biomedical engineer and patent lawyer who was also a good college friend, hailing from Sault Saint Marie, MI.  Another college roomie, the first guy I ever heard ranting against the Electoral College when Clinton won in ’92, was from Menomonee.  A manager I’ve worked closely with at Sun Microsystems is from Shano, WI (draw that “o” out, will ya?).

Wifey cold kicked the Great Lakes accent ages ago, but as for any one of the others, all it takes is enough Blatz beer or something else similarly awful and they kick into that fascinating intonation, kinda like if you cross-bred a Norwegian and a Scot with someone born within fifty furlongs of the Mason-Dixon line, then stuffed the chimera’s voice into a deep well.

I’ve certainly never minded the accent, considering all these people, and many more from my college days in Milwaukee are very intelligent and eminently sensible, even the occasional punter who looked earnestly into my eyes to say “you know, you’re the only black person whom I’ve ever had a proper conversation with.”  I’m down with being the Olaudah Equiano of parts nort’ don’t ya know-oh.