On Tuesday of next week Americans will hold a referendum on basic decency. The 2016 election is nothing less than a Yay or Nay question on whether one of the world's stellar democracies should or should not continue to be helmed by a credible and qualified leader.
The exciting, just-introduced-this-election-cycle alternative is the option of being amused straight into the ground by a racist, change-room-creeping, morally and serially bankrupt reality-TV-sourced clown.
Apparently an alarmingly large segment of the American electorate can be inspired by a man who has a tendency to speak about a certain frequently shirtless equestrian-inclined dictator the way a 13-year-old girl gushes about the "edgy" member of a journalist-assassinating boy band: "Oh my God, Dad, Vlad's favourite activities include parkour, graffiti art, censoring short stories and long, like really long, uninvited walks in former Soviet states. Can I be leader of the free world so he'll talk to me?"
Naturally, the rest of the human race is on the edge of its seat right now. Pop a weather balloon over the Western hemisphere and half the world will pee itself. Small island nations will be flooded.
It's as if the world has had too much coffee. It's like the rest of the planet paces the waiting room while the patient we love undergoes a heart transplant, as it does every four years.
Only this time, in one box, there is a human (and therefore flawed) heart and, in the other, is 10 ounces of half-baked, fetid, paprika-encrusted chicken that has already groped the anesthesiologist and boasted about it to Billy Bush.
Look, I don't know why Billy Bush is in this operating theatre. Maybe he just likes giggling along with fetid orange masses so much that he volunteers. It was an overly scrubbed-up candy-striper Bush who manoeuvred that kissy-noise-making lump of extruded political product – one that is way too well received at KKK barbecues for my comfort – into grabbing range of that poor anesthesiologist.
Jumping metaphors here, this is a thing most women know: Donald Trump is the weather, Billy Bush is the climate.
Damn right the world is one big Nervous Nelly right now. I assure you, we in Canada have been watching the polls like no polls have ever been watched before. Those polls are starting to feel like 15-year-old Miss Teen USA contestants in the aforementioned creeped-upon change rooms when Mr. Trump chooses to take stock.
"Take your eyes off my sample size," say those polls. "You already checked those."
We're watching America like you'd watch your next-door neighbours pace around their back yard with a measuring tape. We do this day after day in this 100 Years Election. They are loudly debating whether they should get a dog or instead install a giant pit full of man-eating saltwater crocodiles.
"I don't know, baby, we could probably fit four dozen of the ravenous reptilian guys in here, if we moved little Emily's swing set over a bit, and you know, I read on the Internet in an e-mail that Labradors are prone to hip dysplasia," we keep hearing from across our world's largest undefended picket fence.
We even elected our own adorable mop-top springer spaniel. We do hope our good neighbours will follow our example.
"Gosh, he sure is a great little fella who would not be improved at all by having 3,700 pounds per square inch of bite force and absolutely no self-control whatsoever," one of us will loudly call to the other across the yard.
"Or by barking out a campaign promise to ban people from our country based on their religious beliefs all the time" one of the kids will say, tossing a ball.
"Who's a good boy? Who's a good boy? Who's a good boy who understands the dangers of nuclear proliferation, the benefits of trading equitably with other countries, and who shows no interest in chewing on NATO?!" Mrs. Canada will add.
The world has anxiously watched Donald Trump graduate from being a not-funny joke candidate whose popularity bewildered us – a political Adam Sandler, if you will – to a Republican-primary front-runner in an admittedly sloth-heavy race, to actual, seriously, this is a thing that has happened, major-party nominee.
We have watched the Republican leadership – Reince Priebus, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the like – march up to their nation's electoral teller's desk wearing a mask, two-inch-thick rubber gloves and holding their candidate at the end of a pair of long tongs and say, "We'd like to cash this cheque for a Senate majority please."
The teller should really ask these guys for some ID. "That doesn't look like it came from the usual Republican platform," she should say.
"Generally, the racism is in the code at the top, not written in all-caps in gold Sharpie across the whole damn thing. Over and over. How did you fellows not notice that months ago when you endorsed it?"
Possibly the teller should just say, "We don't cash foreign cheques, and I can't help noticing this one is partly written in Cyrillic."
What's so nerve-wracking about this election is that none of the cataract of reports of Trump malignancy or malfeasance seem to matter to the electorate. Although perhaps on some level, they shouldn't. Talk about coals to Newcastle. These are not revelations we're seeing, after all. These are confirmations of the knownest of knowns. Being a pig has basically been Donald Trump's brand all along.
It's like you're all watching that and you want to say, "Come on, Galactic Republic, how hard was it to notice that he was a cackling madman in a black cloak with a habit of shooting lightning out of his hands? None of this was hidden from you, alien but still familiar species. Why, for the love of God, have the Republicans gone with Tiny-Handed Palpatine 2016 or, at best, Jabba the Gropey Hutt?"
Forgive my confusion. I'm used to a Republican Party that has ideas, not all of them unworthy, and certainly all of them recognizable as ideas – positions born of a largely coherent political philosophy.
We're not hearing any ideas from these guys now. What we're hearing is a virtually wordless cry of bestial anger, and that's just from the Trump surrogates on CNN.
That thing you just said there, guys: That is not a policy proposal. That is not a rebuttal of yet another allegation of your candidate's stiffing small contractors, or operating a charitable foundation to use other people's money to pay off his fines. It is a sound effect from a low-budget werewolf movie, and I'm not sure how to respond to that.
Speaking of horror films, Halloween is over; please try to get Mr. Trump to stop talking about dead people voting.
The odds are high – though not nearly high enough to lower the human race's collective blood pressure – that your candidate will lose and his scorched-electoral-earth strategy goes past unbecoming all the way into outright dangerous.
It is hazardous, both to all the living Americans who'd like to exercise their franchise on Tuesday (nothing spices up waiting in line at the polls like vigilante white-supremacist "poll watchers") and to the long-term health of American democracy, which feeds on rightly held confidence, not "BRAAAAINS!"
Mr. Trump likes to say that almost two million un-living Americans will be voting this election, and not for him. Much as I'd like to believe that someone had polled the shuffling hordes of ravenous ambulatory corpses and that they, too, are totally spooked by Donald Trump, dead voting people isn't a thing. Names left on out-of-date voting lists are. Perfectly living people with similar names to the deceased also exist. People who turned in an absentee ballot (being too old or ill to vote in person) and then died later are, sadly, also very real.
The spectre of fraud, the "stealing" of elections, the notion that "certain neighbourhoods" are absconding with the election has been the right's long-sought, very-seldom-seen sasquatch for some time. It's part of a collective obsession with the notion that things are being taken away from rightful winners by "inner-city" Americans.
Everyone in the world recognizes that you have very little influence with your own candidate, Republicans. You have about as much influence on his actions as do reality and truth.
But on the off chance that he is finally onto something, could you try to get him to clarify exactly what kind of Election Day of the Living Dead we're in for? Are these 28 Days Later fast zombies? Or George A. Romero slow zombies? Because, if it's the latter, the lines at the polls will be nuts.
Either way, America, go and vote in this nail-biter, and good luck out there.