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February 29, 2012

Election year survival tips

Now that another presidential election campaign is under way (or as C-SPAN calls it, Week 160 on the Road to the White House), it’s going to be harder than ever to avoid the intrusive chatter of such candidates as Willard “Mitt” Romney, Rick “Please Don’t Google Me” Santorum and Newt “Somehow Even Grosser Than Santorum” Gingrich. As usual, most Americans will prefer to ignore it all, wait until November and then just vote for the candidate who seems most likely to provide guns that shoot cheese. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done.

History has shown that “low-information voters” decide our elections, so why not be one of the deciders? Chances are good you’ve already made up your mind anyway. Most conservatives wouldn’t vote for President Obama even if William F. Buckley and Jesus came back and held a joint fundraiser for him on Fox News. And the Republican candidates this year have tended to alienate people who aren’t insane. So most minds are already made up.

Fortunately, the social scientists at The Summary of My Discontent Center for Responsible Cynicism have come up with a list of strategies to help you avoid politics this year. (Bonus: You can use these tips to avoid other cultural intrusions, such as March Madness, Derby and springtime TV meteorologist freak-outs.)

Sound too good to be true? If you follow the advice below, we guarantee you’ll remain blissfully unaware of which candidates are denying women their basic rights, diverting your money to robber barons or promising to find some enemies to bomb. (Answer: all of them, silly.)

First, move to a communist country like Cuba or Oregon. It’s kind of like being in America but with fewer yard signs. If that’s not practical for you, there are still plenty of other strategies you can take.

For example, if you haven’t already done so, get rid of your landline. Landlines are outmoded annoyances these days and will be the source of never-ending robo-calls later this year. AT&T and Insight should be paying you instead of the other way around. Kill that landline and not only will you avoid recorded calls from Kris Kristofferson or Sarah Palin during dinner, but you might just lose contact with an annoying in-law in the bargain.

Next, take a heavy object, such as a small TV, and use it to bash all of your TVs. According to many television news reports, television is the single most annoying appliance in most homes during election years — unless you are a dog, in which case it is the vacuum, which is another suitable tool for bashing your TVs (the vacuum, not the dog). If you decide not to smash your TV, another reasonable option is to turn it off.

If you must watch TV, watch only pre-recorded or on-demand shows, so you can fast-forward through the campaign commercials. That way, you’ll still see them, but their images of menacing political opponents laying waste to an America that never existed will fly by quickly, during which time you can drink heavily and chat about sports.

If you do find yourself watching live TV, make sure to keep a backup channel handy, so you can flip back and forth during commercials. I have successfully used this technique to avoid commercials for a decade now, which reminds me that I’ve totally got to make 7 Up mine.

Another good idea is to unfriend people who make political comments on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or real life. While you’re at it, you should also unfriend anyone who posts photos of breakfast, LOLcats or homemade, ungrammatical Demotivators. Not because of politics but because these people have bad taste.

Here’s a handy crafts project to avoid receiving political fliers in the snail mail: With some PVC pipe, cement and paint, fashion a festive chute that sends all your mail directly to your recycling box.

One final tip: When you’re driving down the street and you see political yard signs, it’s tempting to pull out a semiautomatic rifle and shoot them or mow them over with your car. But that is dangerous and possibly illegal. Instead, try this trick: Create a bunch of companion signs of your own, such as “…IS SORELY MISTAKEN,” “…EATS PUPPIES,” or “…FREQUENTLY SEEKS MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR ERECTIONS LASTING LONGER THAN FOUR HOURS” that you can place next to the existing signs adjacent to the candidate’s name. Have fun with it, and have a peaceful and blissfully ignorant election year!