Though we’ve known for four years that the 2020 US election cycle would be even more fraught than the strange and painful fall of the 2016 elections, most of us still find ourselves a little disoriented these days. For some, the urgency to remove Trump from office has immobilized us. For others, it’s fortified us into action to get out the vote and to sway those who are undecided, apathetic, and reluctant.
In the final five weeks before the election of a lifetime, we asked writers to consider the undecided voter and contribute compelling arguments and ideas for making the world right. Some contributors sent us work that takes on issues with precision and gravity. Others sent us different work, perhaps an even more visceral snapshot of this alarming moment — a one-act play, an open letter, a story of exile. New writing will be published weekdays; we believe its wisdom and strength will help us all navigate the uncertainty ahead.
Guess what? Sometimes there’s no such thing as true love.
Democracy is like last call at your local bar on Valentine’s Day back in the “before times” when you could still grab dat azz in person instead of struggling to screenshot your genitals for your quarantine crush. You are a single woman named America at the desperate end of your fertility. Everyone else at the bar is fine to down a shot and go home with whatever drunk mess is moving in front of them, so why are you being so picky? Your options wane with every second that you hesitate. The longer you wait for a non-existent Mr. Perfect — and it is “Mr.” not “Ms.” because this terrible analogy is also incredibly heterosexist — the older your eggs get and more likely your assets covered in cat hair will be willed to the state. You, America, will literally implode if you don’t get some sort of structure or leadership or loving tonight.
Sorry. That was a terribly anti-feminist analogy. How about this?
Democracy isn’t a Costco where you choose from an entire warehouse, plus get free samples. It’s certainly not Build-A-Bear where you can customize the outfit and personalized sound message. Democracy is a gift shop at the end of the road in a rural town that sells sun-bleached Beanie Babies and antiques that are actually just late ’90s Anne Geddes baby portraits printed in a sepia tone. It’s unclear how this place even stays in business with inventory like this. But guess what? You need to pick out some sort of gift from this crap to show America that you care. Don’t be the asshole that shows up empty-handed to the party that is Democracy!
Were those references too obscure? How’s this?
Democracy is like that low-budget indie film that you worked on as a background actor, shot with less time than you needed, though it felt like you were sitting on set forever, waiting to work. The script could have used edits and probably shouldn’t have been written by 300 million screenwriters. The results are boring and contradictory. Despite being one of the millions of background actors, you look terrible and missed the offerings on the now ravished craft service table. Don’t worry, as long as there is some sort of slow-moving action, we can always fix it post. Just get the thing shot first. Fix it in post. You can always fix things in post.
Basically, I’m telling you to settle for less than what you are worth on November 3, and we’ll work from there on making it better.
If you enjoyed this essay, please share it with an undecided voter in your life, and please consider contributing to Auntie Sewing Squad.
To learn more about the Trump presidency, McSweeney’s is compiling a list of his misdeeds and is also tracking the Trump years, by the numbers.
Kristina Wong is a performance artist, comedian, and elected representative in Koreatown Los Angeles. Her show about running and winning a local elected office is the first fully staged offering of Center Theater Group’s “Digital Stage” series. Kristina’s current pandemic project is the Auntie Sewing Squad, a national network of volunteers sewing masks for vulnerable communities.