Fear and Loathing 2020: The Day After

I have a strange urge to start this with melodrama:  “The Manchester streets are quiet today…”

Except they’re not.  From the broken-down mill town of Hunter S. Thompson’s heyday, this has become the most populous city north of Boston.  Local small businesses prosper year-round; primary season is still important, but far less so these days.

So the streets are far from quiet.  There’s crowds of people out walking — a rare sunny day in February, a bit chilly and there’s snow expected later.  The network news trucks mostly moved out in the wee hours, and cars cluster on the highway south.  The candidates — those who survived last night’s culling — have already moved on to the next state.  Steyer started working South Carolina two days ago when he realized he wasn’t gaining any traction up here — a smart move but hard on his local followers.  Still, he paid for a nice free buffet for all and sundry — plus two free drinks.

A note on that:  I’ve discovered that “sundry” doesn’t include the press.  If you identify yourself as a journalist, or if you carry around a big honking camera and microphone, they put you in the taped-off section at the back of the room and you don’t get any free beer.  They also won’t necessarily take the time to talk to you.

Given the pests the cameramen make of themselves, this is justified.  They’ll step in front of you, oblivious and uncaring, and shove people out of the way to get their shot.  It amazes me nobody takes a poke at these guys.  And the lights–!  There’s about three total seconds of me on network television where I’ve got my hand over my eyes for shade; Biden had five massive spots on him and I was up behind.  No idea how the candidates manage to keep their vision.

But none of that matters today.  It’s all done and wrapped up for another four years.  There’ll be a brief sputter of activity near November, as both major campaigns stop for one last visit, but that’s not even a shadow of yesterday.  There were families out watching the spectacle, Vermin Love Supreme wandering up and down the streets, major network anchors and known talking heads using commandeered diners and pizza places as broadcasting hubs, well-muffled reporters “on location” in front of whatever park or building they’re allowed to use…

But no more.  We’re done for another season, and Thank God! is the cry of the locals.  Too long have they been forced to listen to competing radio spots and TV ads and have strangers knocking on their doors all the live-long day.  The kids were up in arms because their YouTube videos get delayed an entire minute and they have to listen to Tom Steyer instead — not an enlightened strategy.  Thousands of mostly-clean-yet-hairy Bernie volunteers mostly made it out in someone else’s car late last night, but there’s a few yet wandering about, bewildered and somehow lost without their Candidate.

Later today, the responsible candidates will go about and round up stray yard signs.  The rest will remain as litter until the next storm when the plows rip through and merge them with the snowbanks, to rest until the spring thaw.

And life goes on, somewhat quieter.

Thanks for all the support and lively discussion, folks.  Couldn’t have done this without you.  Still can’t, in point of fact…

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