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A Teachable Moment

The Good Voter Larry

by RILEY WAGGAMAN

The good voter Larry was patronizing a popular vegan cupcake boutique in Georgetown, which had been recommended to him by a Facebook friend whom he had never met. Larry stared admiringly at his cupcake, and wondered what he should do with it.

Says here that more Americans were subjected to warrantless surveillance in the past two years than in the entire previous decade,” announced a twenty-something who was bent over his brand new cell phone, which in six weeks was destined for a landfill in Jamaica.

“If there’s a War on Terror, it’s got to be won, and there’s got to be some wiggle room for the President. Nobody is going to talk me out of that,” chimed back the good voter Larry.

The twenty-something did not look up to see Larry smiling warmly at him, but instead grimaced at his phone; he hadn’t made eye contact since sometime last April. But it was perfectly clear to him that the good voter Larry was making facetious and ironical remarks about the President—which is widely considered irresponsible, especially during an election year. He resolved to help Larry see the error of his ways.

“So hypothetically,” the twenty-something postured carefully as he pressed buttons on his phone, “If you were forced at knifepoint to vote for either the President or Mitt Romney—and if you refused, you and everyone you know would get stabbed—whom would you choose? Be honest.”

“I’m voting for the candidate who loves Ronald Reagan the most. Same as you, I imagine!” beamed the good voter Larry without hesitating, as he raised his vegan edible for a toast: “Four more years!

The twenty-something changed the subject to Netflix queues and the weather. He was a respectable twenty-something, through and through.

***

The good voter Larry was walking across “the quad” of a local university, when he chanced upon a renowned tenure-track professor of political science thinking aloud to a gaggle of graduate students.

“In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to play the game of Lesser of Two Evils. But if you aren’t in the game—Miami Heat is playing the—talking about sports—is playing the Oklahoma Thunder…See? It’s not ‘I’d prefer it be the Los Angeles Lakers.’ This is the game we’re talking about: basketball.”

Larry felt a burning need to say something but did not want to interrupt. Suddenly, as if by a miracle, the good voter Larry was visited by a childhood memory of “the talking stick,” which Mrs. Breen had used with remarkable success to help facilitate dialog at Lincoln Memorial Middle & High School. Larry’s eyes widened as he searched frantically in the grass for a stick or small branch. But every time he thought he had finally found a stick, it turned out to be a Frisbee. “Not another Frisbee,” Larry moaned, as he rummaged around the quad looking for a proper stick. He soon grew impatient.

“I HAVE THE TALKING FRISBEE,” screamed the good voter Larry excitedly, waving a Frisbee in the air as he planted himself in front of the professor. “And I would just like to add”—now Larry was using a more “inside voice”—“that the permanent kill list mustbe the best possible and most balanced way to kill people and their children, because it was created by the President, who would not choose to create an imperfect kill list if a better kill list could be known to him or possible to exist. It’s all very simple, really,” Larry reassured everyone. “Apparent flaws that can be identified in the kill list must exist in every possible kill list, because otherwise the President would have chosen to create a kill list that excluded those flaws.”

The tenure-track professor stared menacingly at Larry. Larry met his eye with the innocent, gentle, modest and tender warmth of his gaze. For a while they looked fixedly at each other.

“We need to move beyond the politics of disgruntlement,” sighed the tenure-track professor. “If you’re playing tennis and the score is deuce…”—and then the professor was hit directly in the face with the talking Frisbee, which had been generously passed to him by Larry. The professor staggered backward, then collapsed on top of a sunbathing coed who was going to flunk out anyway.

A vicious mob of graduate students came barreling towards Larry, who leapt about like an antelope as he dodged the Ugg boots and Ray-Ban sunglasses being hurled at him from every imaginable angle.

Eventually the good voter Larry got stuck in a tree, and was rescued by two men from Campus Security with swimming pool nets.

***

The good voter Larry inexplicably found himself being processed at the Metropolitan Police Department. A volunteer from MoveOn arrested for loitering was waiting in line behind him.

“I was handing out e-mail spam just like this, see?” The MoveOn volunteer said as she made a motion with her hand. “And then a policeman pulled up in his cruiser and said, ‘you’ll have to come with me,’” recounted the volunteer, now on the verge of tears.

Larry, who was a true gentleman and even attended cotillion once, hated to see a lady in distress. He resolved to cheer her up.

“Isn’t it something to have a President who stands up for women?” Larry asked the volunteer in a friendly, reassuring tone. “All things considered, isn’t it wonderful to have a President who refuses to compromise on A Woman’s Right to Choose?” And then pausing for a moment, Larry added, “I hate to sound like a broken record, but I just cannot budge on women’s rights, and neither can the President.”

“Yes—yes,” answered the MoveOn volunteer as she wiped away a tear and smiled meekly.

“Of course, there are those who claim the President is a first-class fraud, what with him signing an executive order which bans government funding of most abortions, and his decision to block over-the-counter sales of Plan B to girls under seventeen years of age, and allowing religious exemptions to contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and hiring Larry Summers as his top economic advisor, a man world-famous for arguing that women are genetically predisposed to being bad at math; not to mention the President covered up all those videotaped rapes in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Larry with an ambivalent shrug. “I suppose there will always be a handful of purists who will never understand that compromise and rape cover-ups are part of the legislative process, especially when you control the entire legislative process. We live in the best of all possible worlds, and we have the President to thank for it.”

The MoveOn volunteer did not respond to Larry, but instead sobbed quietly and waited for her turn to be fingerprinted.

“So you’re the one who attacked Dr. Tyson with a Frisbee,” remarked a police sergeant to the good voter Larry.

“I’m an easy-going voter, and grateful for anything you do for me,” replied Larry.

***

The good voter Larry was led to a holding cell, where he was told to wait until further notice. While waiting for further notice, Larry accidentally read a book that was not written by Jonathan Safran Foer, which he found almost in mint condition in the trash bin.

I find that the respectable man, so called, has immediately drifted from his position, and despairs of his country, when his country has more reason to despair of him. He forthwith adopts one of the candidates thus selected as the only available one, thus proving that he is himself available for any purposes of the demagogue.

Those who, while they disapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacles to reform.

“Incredible,” observed the good voter Larry. “Even in Thoreau’s time, there were Romney supporters.”

***

“Dr. Tyson is willing to drop all charges, on the condition that you sign this deposition,” grumbled the police sergeant to the good voter Larry, who had been passing the time by counting the number of countries where U.S. Special Forces are currently deployed.

The deposition was handwritten by the professor, and was no less than eight pages in length. It began:

I, [STATE YOUR NAME HERE], prevented Dr. Charles Floyd Tyson, PhD from finishing his sports metaphor. Well, if you’re competing in the Tour de France and you’re biking through the mountainous regions of the Pyrenees and you’re very hungry: you don’t stop for a croissant—you keep peddling! …

“Professor Tyson would like to treat this as a ‘teachable moment,’” recited the police sergeant. “Will you sign?”

Larry fixed his kindly blue eyes upon the sergeant and said calmly, “If you want me to sign it, sir, then I will. It can’t do me any harm. But if you were to say, ‘Larry, don’t sign anything!’ I’d argue till my last breath.”

The sergeant, now thoroughly agitated, handed Larry a pen. And Larry signed the deposition, with the following addition:

All the above-mentioned accusations against me are based upon truth. — LARRY

“You’re free to go,” mumbled the sergeant, clearly a bit disappointed. But before he realized what was happening, Larry had crawled up to him, had kissed his hand and said, “God bless you for everything you’ve done. If you ever need someone to network with, I used to intern for Center for American Progress.”

“Get out!” growled the sergeant.

***

Outside the police station Larry bumped into a seasoned pragmatist, whose finger was water logged from constantly wetting it to see which way the wind was blowing. (This is how Larry recognized he was in the presence of a true pragmatist.)

The pragmatist had worked as a registered lobbyist for Hosni Mubarak, and after his client was imprisoned made a small fortune hawking Arab Spring “Che” shirts at Eastern Market. Now he scraped by selling weapons to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Selling weapons to the Democratic Republic of the Congo used to be illegal, you know,” the pragmatist informed Larry in a matter-of-fact way. “Thankfully the President changed all that. After all, if we don’t sell the Congolese weapons, someone else will. I’ve been in the pragmatism business for a long time,” said the pragmatist with a wink. “And business has never been better.”

The good voter Larry was full of deference for his new friend.

“You and I?” said the pragmatist to Larry, “We are like the grass; the grass, when the wind passes over it, bends. This is the very nature of pragmatism.” Then losing his train of thought, the pragmatist added, “Just yesterday I read that the National Security Agency is building a one-million-square-foot surveillance center in Utah that will be able to store 100 years’ worth of the world’s electronic communications.”

“And what can we do, pragmatically?” Asked the good voter Larry, who was genuinely depressed by the fact that the government could not afford a two-million-square-foot surveillance center.

The pragmatist put his arm around Larry and replied, “Washington is not a place to live in. Go West, young man, go West to Utah and work for the NSA!”

“Yes, ‘Forward!’” cried the good voter Larry, full of gusto.

The pragmatist, realizing he was in the presence of a prize lunatic, laughed uproariously, then made a mental note about the current direction of the wind.

“Who talks of victories anymore?” asked the pragmatist. “To see it through is everything!” And with that he bid Larry adieu.

Larry, now completely invigorated, marched westward until he fell into the Potomac. Where that great river took him, we’ll never know. But our hearts and prayers are with him.

THE END.

Riley Waggaman is a former editor of Wonkette.com.