Nearly two decades ago, "The Simpsons" aired one of my favorite episodes, "Trash of the Titans
," featuring Steve Martin playing the role of Springfield Sanitation Commissioner Ray Patterson, a dedicated, competent public servant. I realize this may not seem immediately relevant this morning, but hear me out.
After squabbling with local garbage collectors, Homer Simpson grew to hate Patterson, and confronted the sanitation commissioner at his office, throwing around ignorant, self-gratifying nonsense. "I came to fight city hall," Simpson declared, despite having no idea what he was talking about. "I want to shake things up, Patterson. Stir up some controversy, rattle a few cages."
Patterson, eager to get back to work, tried to be reasonable, but soon grew impatient, telling Simpson, "Nobody wants to hear the nonsensical ravings of a loudmouthed malcontent!"
"Oh, we'll see about that!" Simpson responded, deciding to run against Patterson in the next election, assuming locals would very much like to hear the nonsensical ravings of a loudmouthed malcontent.
Soon after, the two had a debate, which to Patterson's great frustration, descended into farcical incoherence, with Simpson making ridiculous promises and displaying profound ignorance. "All right, fine," Patterson eventually told voters. "If you want an experienced public servant, vote for me. But if you want to believe a bunch of crazy promises ... then by all means vote for this sleazy lunatic."
Moments later, we learned that voters had elected the sleazy lunatic.
Of course, the results were disastrous, and the people of Springfield quickly realized they'd made a terrible mistake. At a town meeting, voters fired Simpson and agreed to give Patterson his job back.
Except, by that point, it was too late. "Oh gosh," Patterson said, feigning appreciation. "You know, I'm not much on speeches, but it's so gratifying to leave you wallowing in the mess you've made. You're screwed. Thank you. Bye."
America, I have some bad news for you. Your fellow citizens were given a very similar choice in this year's presidential election. They did not choose wisely.
And to paraphrase the wise words of former Springfield Sanitation Commissioner Ray Patterson, we're screwed. read more