In some cases, particularly where an incumbent is running against an unknown, it is to the candidate’s advantage to depress voter turnout and bank on coasting to re-election on name recognition only.
This ad should do the trick.
ON A DUSTY STRETCH
OF DESOLATE ARROYO
HUNDREDS OF MILES
FROM THE NEAREST
(A SHERIFF and his DEPUTY sit together while eating breakfast. Two eggs over easy, link sausage, toast—with a half-melted pat of butter in the middle—and hash browns sit untouched on the SHERIFF’s plate. The DEPUTY shovels oatmeal into his mouth. The SHERIFF leafs through the paper.)
SHERIFF: (Sighing from the deepest marrow of his bones.) Says here there’s gone be an election.
DEPUTY: (Mouth full of oatmeal.) Seems I heard somethin’ ’bout that.
SHERIFF: (Continuing to turn the newspaper pages.) You know what I reckon?
DEPUTY: No, sir. I surely don’t.
SHERIFF: I reckon it don’t matter who wins.
SHERIFF: I’m sayin’ it don’t matter who wins.
DEPUTY: Why you sayin’ that, Sheriff?
SHERIFF: (Turning the page in the paper.) Says here there’s a man in West Gulch …
DEPUTY: I got a cousin down in West Gulch.
SHERIFF: Well, this man in West Gulch, he took …
DEPUTY: Second cousin, actually. Mom’s side. Lost an arm in a backhoe accident …
SHERIFF: (Slightly exasperated.) Anyway … this West Gulch man. Seems like while he was eating dinner he got some kind of compulsion to go pick up his television and smash it over his wife’s head.
DEPUTY: You sayin’ that a man killed his wife with his television?
SHERIFF: (Slightly more exasperated.) Nope. I’m sayin’ a man smashed his wife over the head with his television. She weren’t dead afterwards, just knocked out, so after that this West Gulch man took his wife over his shoulder and carried her out back and dug a hole and put her into the hole up to her neck. She was still wearing that television like some kind of hat, and then he poured some Karo syrup over the top and just let the ants have at her. Doesn’t say nothin’ here about her screamin’, but I reckon there was some screamin’. At least if’n she woke up.
DEPUTY: (Pushing oatmeal away.) I reckon.
SHERIFF: After a while, seems that the vultures found her, started in those lazy circles overhead, bearing down on this woman with the television smashed over her head, buried in the hole and eaten at by the ants, and the neighbors noticed, thinkin’ that maybe someone’s cattle got caught in the razor wire and died, so they went to take a look and saw the woman in the hole, with the television on her head and the ants, and they called the sheriff down there, Jim Fred …
DEPUTY: I know the man.
SHERIFF: (Fully exasperated.) Shut the fuck up, son. I’m telling a story that’s got a real theme to it here.
DEPUTY: Sorry, Sheriff.
SHERIFF: So Jim Fred pulls up to the house and he can smell the woman, so he doesn’t really need to go look, but he does anyway—and that’s something he’s going to regret, I can tell you; you don’t forget something like that; something like that sticks with you—and then he goes into the man’s house and finds the man sittin’ in his chair, just staring at the space where that television used to be, and Jim Fred asks him what he has to say about his wife, buried outside in that hole with the television on her head, and the ants and now the vultures, and you know what the man says?
DEPUTY: No, Sheriff. I sure don’t.
SHERIFF: The man says, “That’s my art.” “That’s my art,” the man says. What do you think that means, son?
DEPUTY: I surely don’t know, Sheriff.
SHERIFF: I guess I don’t fully know, either, son, but something I do know is that in a world where a man will get up, smash a television over his wife’s head, and then bury her in a hole and pour Karo syrup over her for the ants, it seems like there’s a madness out there, a real madness, the kind of madness you just cain’t get hold of, and when there’s a real madness out there, I reckon it don’t matter one way or another who the president is. What good’s a president against somethin’ like that?
DEPUTY: No good at all, I reckon.
SHERIFF: I reckon.
(A WAITRESS approaches the table carrying a coffee decanter in each hand. It is clear that she was once a beauty, perhaps a local pageant winner, where the prize was a semester’s tuition at the state university, a ticket out, but after a year there, Mama got sick and WAITRESS had to come back to take care of her and Daddy, and when Mama passed she went to work at the diner and never left, her former beauty slowly fading like the evening sun dipping below the horizon.)
WAITRESS: More coffee, Sheriff?
SHERIFF: (Holding up his cup for the pour.) I reckon I better.
(Cut to: A vast panorama of the arroyo. Small bluffs in the distance lift toward the sky. Dust blows. Spikes of heat lightning dive for the ground.)
CANDIDATE: (Voice-over.) My name is [insert name here], and I reckon this is my message.