by R. McDonald

There is a remarkable rule in US politics— every election since 1940 has been predicted by the result of the last home game of the Washington Redskins before the polls open. If the Redskins win the game the incumbent party hold on, but if they lose then the opposing party win.

The score essentially guarantees the result, and so I was both keen and terrified to keep track of events unfolding earlier today at the huge FedEx Field in the US capital. In their last home game before Election Day they faced the generally unfavoured Carolina Panthers, in an eerie parallel of political affairs. The game ended 21-13. The Redskins lost. Everything points towards the terrifying prospect of a new president who looks like the result of a witch granting Bert from Sesame Street a human body.

A Mitt Romney presidency wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, unless you’re taking home a minimum wage of less than $1 million. In which case you might as well do the merciful thing and do yourself in quickly and painlessly, because you’re not getting a job, medical care, or financial aid of any kind for at least four years. I’m not exactly sure what Romney’s plan is— he keeps telling us he has one, but it’s so good he’s saving it as a surprise because he knows we’re just going to love it… But you can pretty much guarantee it’s going to involve rewarding the same greedy morons who ruined the economy in the first place. With his mystery plan Romney has turned the election into a bizarre economic game show that offers two prizes… the guaranteed slow, safe and steady recovery of the Obama administration, or the mystery box…

Tragically, I’ve seen enough game shows to know that contestants can never resist the mystery box. Deal or No Deal is a games show that focuses solely on picking one mystery box after another. I’ve also seen enough game shows to know that this usually results in losing vast sums of money. The only real difference between the hit Channel 4 show and the Romney campaign is that Noel Edmonds has slightly less stylish shirts and considerably tighter jeans.

It seems hard to believe in a world where the Occupy Movement exists, and countries across the world have rallied against right wing leaders with harmful beliefs, that Romney even has a chance. Bafflingly, most of the people who will vote for him are the exact same people who will suffer most at the hands of Romney and Ryan’s ideology. It is troubling to think that thousands of women will vote for a man who has made numerous sexist gaffes, is against abortion, and has publicly endorsed the Indiana senate candidate Richard Mourdock even after his slightly controversial claim that childbirth resulting from rape was ‘something God intended to happen.’

Logically Obama should win. But then logic also suggests Al Gore should have won— logic as well as pretty much everything apart from the Supreme Court. It is interesting to think what sort of world this would be now if Gore had been elected. I’m not sure the US would have been involved in the monumentally expensive military campaigns in the Middle East, and certainly not to the extent they have been. This alone would have made the inevitable economic collapse a little easier to deal with. No doubt Global Warming and the environment would have been much higher on the agenda, and whilst Katrina and Sandy were literally unstoppable, they might have been much better prepared and the recovery better organized.

Of course changing the course of history means we lose Obama, and the current President would probably be a Republican. It could feasibly have been Colin Powell, who was dissuaded from running in the ‘90s because of assassination fears. Powell is a less bloodthirsty, more moderate Republican, and is widely respected. In this version of history the misjudgement of WMDs hasn’t happened. It is reasonable to accept the idea of a black American President at this point in this timeline, because it happened in reality. It would probably be a far more stable political world, but the economy would have collapsed and Powell would probably suffer… and we still have an election where a black President faces defeat due to the economy. In fact Hilary Clinton would probably become the first female President thanks to having been in the White House in the early ‘90s when the economy was in a similarly dire state.

Of course the big difference in reality is that the President’s big economic opponent is a kid who looks more like a Matthew McConaughey level actor than a financial genius. Still, tough economic times tend to result in more political extremism in the polls. The Romney-Ryan ticket obviously isn’t a good idea, but much like a football club, all you can do when things go wrong is change the man in charge. It doesn’t matter who the new guy is, just as long as it’s not the old guy. The question is, can Obama weather the storm?

Which brings us ham-fistedly to Hurricane Sandy, which has destroyed most of the East Coast and just maybe saved Obama’s campaign; Romney hasn’t been able to campaign, whilst Obama has been looking every inch the man you want in charge. Romney also has an unsurprisingly poor record on environmental issues and emergency relief funding which ties in nicely with his one consistent policy of ‘**** the poor people!’

The Romney attitude— and the general Republican attitude— towards climate change is the same as the attitude of a character in The Simpsons. When Hank Scorpio blows up a bridge there is one man who says ‘maybe it just collapsed by itself.’ The Republicans think the whole climate change issue is a myth, and that the New York City subway probably just flooded because it wanted to. Other more extreme Republicans just go straight for the ‘God punishing gays’ explanation, because everyone knows how much gays hate getting wet and seeing thousands of people lose their homes…

Meanwhile Obama is known to be more environmentally friendly, and seems a little more genuine in stating his desire to help the victims than Romney. Romney likely considers most of the destroyed housing to belong the banks anyway, and the newly homeless to be scroungers leeching off the state. There is perhaps hope that not only does Obama look better in the midst of Sandy, but that voters see it as foolish to change an administration that is in the middle of literal rebuilding.

When I started following this election I predicted Obama would face Romney, and Obama would win by a distance. I think it will be tight, but I have faith in logic and the basic decency of humanity that Obama will still be President this time next week. As I conclude this I’m hearing reports of polls from the swing states— all give Obama a slight edge.

But still… the Redskins lost… and the inexplicable closeness of the race is making me dread Tuesday night…