The election-year drinking game

Apr 9, 2014 at 5:00 am

OK, kids, gather ’round. It’s an election year, and you know what that means: Once again, we get to enjoy the privilege of living in a representative democracy, where we can choose our own leaders after being bombarded with soul-crushing, nonstop messages from the deeply cynical people who hope to become them. Yay! 

But one thing that makes America the greatest country in this or any other multiverse is the way we can all agree that drinking makes things better. So whether you are Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, capitalist or communist, libertarian or person of compassion (or if you’re just someone severely traumatized by Mitch McConnell’s jowl-jiggle), you have plenty of reasons to drink in 2014.

As the campaigns kick into high gear and the bullshit becomes more monumental, you might be tempted to just stay drunk all the time. And that’s a good plan for journalists.

But for casual users of American suffrage, an election-year drinking game can add a festive and sometimes thrilling element of chance to an otherwise disgraceful spectacle. The drinking game I have in mind is designed to reward you when a politician lies to you. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Hell, I’ll be shitfaced by 8 a.m.!” And yes, if you drank a shot every time a politician lied, you’d need a new liver by noon tomorrow.

So to make the game survivable, you should not drink when you hear lies like “I’ll fight hard for the middle class every day” or even whoppers like “I will bring common sense to Washington” or “I will cut through the red tape.” Everybody tells those lies, so don’t drink when you hear them (unless you are a trained journalist and are already drinking at the time).

Instead, drink only when you hear a complete falsehood that is willfully intended to keep voters ignorant, poor, marginalized, dogmatic or intolerant. The lie must be part of an organized campaign to spread misinformation, and it must use fear as its guiding principle. The politician must know it is a lie. I’m not talkin’ white lies. I’m talkin’ nuclear-quality, intentionally misleading, industrial-grade bullshit. You know: people-coexisted-with-dinosaurs lies. Seventy-two-virgins-are-waiting-for-you-in-heaven lies. Saddam-has-WMDs lies. Trust me, you will not go thirsty.

You will have to use your own judgment about whether a statement is a garden-variety political lie or if it’s got a more sinister intent, but, like obscenity, you’ll know it when you hear it. For instance, if a candidate says, “Obama is a liberal,” don’t drink. That’s a lie, but it’s close enough to true that it doesn’t warrant a gulp of Pappy Van Winkle. But if a candidate claims that President Obama is a socialist, toss back a shot of moonshine, because that term is just meant to whip fear into the hearts of voters, most of whom wouldn’t know a socialist if one walked up and hand-delivered a platinum hood ornament stolen from an Obama-coddled robber baron’s Gulfstream jet.

Note that there’s plenty of misinformation on both sides of the aisle. Toss back a shot when Alison Lundergan Grimes says the EPA is destroying Kentucky’s coal industry. Everybody from Al Gore to King Coal CEO knows natural gas and other less deadly energies are kicking coal to the curb, not the EPA. Gov. Beshear knows it, you know it, and Grimes knows it. If Kentucky really wanted to do something for coal counties being impacted by the marketplace, its leaders would find an alternative to intentional misinformation as well as to coal jobs.

It’s always been convenient to keep people in ignorance, poverty, xenophobia and superstition. When the Roman aristocrats were lounging in their marble palaces, bringing each other to orgasm with emerald-tipped hummingbird tongues, the Visigoths were traipsing around the forests trying to gather enough turds and pinecones to keep the winter’s chill out of their dank hovels. It doesn’t take a “House of Cards” marathon to see the advantages of keeping voters superstitious and ill-informed.

But the great thing about the election-year drinking game is that you can customize it to your own beliefs, fears and/or biases. Think evolution is a lie? Drink up when you see some scary science! Think birth control is for sluts? Drink up when someone tries to buy contraceptives for a Hobby Lobby clerk. The drinking game can’t solve all your election-year problems, but there’s no reason you can’t smile through the treachery!