by Michael Sasso
All of America, USA
After months of surging support for underdog presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, scores of his Millennial supporters have stopped campaigning for him entirely. Only weeks ago, they re-posted meme after Sanders meme on social media, they “liked” and “shared” positive Sanders articles that they never actually read, and they added “#FeelTheBern” extraneously to all their tweets.
But bewilderment with the American government has stopped many of them in their tracks. “I have absolutely no fucking idea how our government works,” admits Claire, a recent college graduate who boasted a 3.7 GPA at Syracuse University and who currently works at a Subway restaurant. “I remember learning about the delegate system in middle school, from School House Rock, I think. And even if I didn’t get it entirely, I thought the point was still whomever got more votes got the nomination. But, now I see all these memes [on Facebook] about how Bernie got more votes but Hilary got more delegates, and I’m like…why?”
Claire’s confusion is shared by other youngsters in every state. William of Atlanta, GA told us, “Delegates, aright, fine, you vote for ‘em, then they vote like you want, we get the nominee we want. K. Cool. But then there’s these super delegates. And I’m like, whaaaat? What the hell’s a super delegate? How you get to be a super delegate anyway? They like a boss in X-Box or something? That shit ain’t right, there bein’ normal delegates and super delegates.” When asked if he voted in this year’s primary, William told us he had, but only because he had the day off from work and “It couldn’t hurt.”
While convenience overcame apathy in William’s case, not everyone’s feelings are so lukewarm and “meh” on the subject. Others have turned downright hopeless about the whole thing. “It would be one thing if the politicians were corrupt and they needed replacing,” gripes Sunil, a software engineer in Silicon Valley. “But the whole system is downright stupid. I mean it’s not just the software that’s fucked, the computer itself is a total fucking mess. Like our democracy is made out of 20 shoddy abaci and it can barely computer a gig of information, and we’re asking it to run a whole country. Like, you know we’re on the verge of building quantum computers, right? But we’re running on this shit system for government?”
Sunil’s rant is more than just a vague and verbose analogy to computers. It’s his reasoning behind his decision not to vote this year, or ever again. “I like Bernie,” he says, “but if we can’t even fix our transparent and obviously flawed election process, what chance does Bernie have in fixing the corporate corruption and greed that is kept so well-hidden from us?” Instead of voting, Sunil has chosen to devote his time to building an Artificially Intelligent being who may be able to replace all of the world’s governments. “But it will be nothing like the A.I. in Terminator or The Matrix,” he promises.
While nihilistic attitudes are the main culprit for the loss of passion for the Sanders campaign, laziness and stupidity have done it for others.
Ted, a college student, donated part of his Stafford Loan this semester to Sanders’ campaign. “But now I get emails from Bernie like every day,” Ted writes. “And I don't have time to read everything he writes me, so I just kinda sigh and delete it like it’s spam…Like he emails me more often than my girlfriend texts me. Like, if [Bernie] is gonna be this needy when he's still just dating America, think, what's he gonna be like when they’re Facebook official? That might be a bit much. I think Trump would have a much better, ‘I'll do my thing, you do yours’ kinda attitude when it comes to his relationship with America.”
Others are easily swayed by efforts made outside any of the candidates’ control. Recently AHF parodied Sander’s “Feel the Bern” slogan by releasing a number of billboards advertising freeSTDcheck.com that read, “Feel The Burn?” Of one of these billboards, Jess’ka, a fashion blogger of Los Angeles, recently wrote, "Ew. Now when I see a Bernie bumper sticker all I think about is chlamydia. It doesn't matter that it's spelled with an 'e' and not a ‘u.’ I still think about a burning vagina."
While Jess’ka is especially naive and blasé about the election process, others have sunk into a true existential crisis, questioning the very nature of existence and perception of the world around them.
Claire, the Subway sandwich maker, studied comparative religion and philosophy in college, and she believes the current election climate is supportive of the theory that the world is an illusion. “Just like Plato’s The Cave,” she tells us with the quiet confidence of an old sage, “Just like Maya. We choose to see the truth we like to see, but we can’t really know it. We can’t see the truth.”
Suddenly, Claire becomes less stoic, and she blurts, in a fury of words, "I have no idea what's going on for sure in the world except for the three feet around me! Facebook says CNN isn't showing us Bernie's victories because CNN is in bed with Hilary. I don't know if that's true, so I asked Facebook, and I just got more anti-CNN memes. But who’s side is Facebook on? And where do these memes COME FROM anyway? And I can't ask the “MEDIA” because apparently the media wants Hilary. Like who am I supposed to ask? The country is just 300-million blind people playing Telephone with each other as if anyone actually knows what the hell is happening. I mean, if 99% of people vote for Bernie but in July the DNC announces that Hilary won by a huge margin, I mean who’s actually fact-checking that? I wouldn’t know if they’re lying or not! Who’s parenting this country of big babies and bigger bullies? Why is it all so complicated?!”
At this point in the interview, Claire breaks down, throwing sandwich ingredients around the shop, nearly crying. And yet, her sentiment is one shared by millions of Americans:
“Why isn’t it fair and simple? Why doesn’t it work like they said it did in School House Rock!?”
Michael Sasso is a writer, actor, and award-winning filmmaker living in Los Angeles. He is a co-creator of the acclaimed series Swipe Click Bang, and he likes to make stuff that subjugates the romantic and romanticizes the absurd. Sasso is also a published author of erotic fiction, under a pseudonym that he shall not share, because then what would be the point of having a pseudonym?