Democracy v. Freedom

Photograph Source: Ryan McFarland – CC BY 2.0

The most fascinating aspect of the 2024 election is that there’s no there there. Democrats campaign without fundamental beliefs, Republicans without functional policies. And while Diogenes lit his lamp in broad daylight and strolled Athens in search of an honest man, all I’d like to locate is a candidate who is not an abject prick.

As best I can tell, this election is supposed to be a binary choice between “Freedom” and “Democracy.” The Republicans are “Freedom.’ The Democrats, by process of elimination and all evidence to the contrary, “Democracy”.

Regarding “Freedom,” the level of useful discourse in the first GOP debate made the back and forth on Quemoy and Matsu sound like a proposition from Wittgenstein. It was confusing and appalling and terrifying, and I nodded off on occasion, but I’ll try to summarize.

There were 7 red ties and something called a boucle dress, and they all possessed not so much a sense of history as a senselessness of it. Which is no electoral impediment in a land which views its factual past as improv not prologue. There was much talk of everyday families gathering around kitchen tables to raise the Pentagon budget because we are running out of bullets to invade Mexico.

Apparently everyone agreed that somewhere between 13.7 billion and 6 thousand years ago Jesus’ dad formed untold universes in order to designate the mid-latitude region of the North American landmass as the only important place in a trillion galaxies.

There seemed to be a consensus that Jefferson and Jesus wrote the Constitution of Independence whose very first sentence was “Congress shall make no law.” And even though there were pros and cons to slavery, no one onstage overlooked that the nation had fought a Civil War because white people were basically good and wanted to end racism fairly. After that, they all felt various things happened, which brought everyone to 2016.

Also, Ron DeSantis looked both ways before raising his voice to yell of a woman “left discarded in a pan” and Vivek Ramaswamy {pronounced: RAMA SMARMY}  displayed character traits that would’ve tempted Gandhi to punch him in the face.

Trump of course couldn’t make it because he was trying to fundraise off the notion that the Deep State is trying to kill him. Fortunately, few of his MAGA donors will recognize that if a functioning Deep State actually existed the 45th (and quite possibly 47th) president of the United States would have returned from his initial overseas trip in the baggage area.

To sum up, this seems a rather easy bar for “Democracy” to clear. Until you remember that the Democratic brain trust managed to get out-messaged by Susan Collins. Fortunately, Democracy’s candidate, Joe Biden, is running unopposed. Or more accurately, shuffling hesitantly against unacknowledged opponents and overwhelming indifference. He believes that nothing (apart from single payer, paid leave, and watching him hold regular press conferences) is beyond our capacity.

Yet there’s a potentially fatal flaw in Democratic Party campaign strategy: They expect voters to be as satisfied as they are with the appearance of progress.

For example, you shouldn’t boast about lowering the cost of prescription drugs when what you’reactually doing is subjecting 10 drugs to price negotiations with Medicare and you have no ideawhat those negotiations will be or the way anything will be decided or even how those 10 lower prices will “take effect”… in 2026!!

Diabetes and heart disease and stroke are taking effect RIGHT NOW, not in 3 years. Paying for healthcare remains a waking nightmare for everyday Americans not surnamed Blankfein. So with apologies to Obamacare apologists, the fact that the only other option in the only country in the industrialized world which affixes a profit margin to the human condition is GoFundMe is not “something to build on” but an unspeakable obscenity.

Democrats would stand a better chance if they engaged in more self-flagellation than self-congratulation.

Yet maybe there’s a way for “Democracy” to win right now!? No one needed to see a Cage Match between Musk and Zuckerberg, but what about one between Trump and Biden?!? Neither of them is doing debates, and if Trump is already incarcerated the bars would bring added poignancy and, most importantly, it could cut 14 months from this interminable process!

Hannity and Maddow would be the cageside commentators. I’m sure I speak for the world when I say the combatants need not be shirtless. Biden would wear his aviators and do that fast-trot-look-how-full-of-vim-I am- as-I-run-up-to-the-podium-thing he does against the side of the cage! Trump could glower at him from center square, call him names and flex umm flesh folds, then rush (aka trundle) at him with the full vigor of his 6 ft 215-297 lb physique annnnd… both would collapse face down and comatose from the exertion and the Match would be called a draw and anyone who listened to it on the radio would say Nixon won.

If Doctor Pangloss had to write about this election he would take a quantity of pills and place a plastic bag over his head.

Jerry Long is a writer, actor, podcaster and political satirist who, with his brother Joe, has worked with Adam McKay on numerous projects. He can also be reached at