Political Walk of Shame
Our least favorite politicians undergo the political walk of shame straight out of 'Game of Thrones.'
Let's be honest, nobody wants to see our politicians forced to walk through the streets naked. That would be more of a punishment for everyone else than it would be for the over-inflated egos that stalk the halls of Congress and lurk in state government. But sometimes I can't help but wish we could drag most of the people currently making a mockery of themselves in the presidential election through the streets and announce their crimes to the world. Just some guy with a cowbell shouting to an angry crowd—without the typical political media circus. I feel like it might promote some honesty in our election if our candidates had to risk a more visceral form of public shaming rather than just shrug off a few limp-wrested punches from the 24-hour election cycle.
I mean, really? Who remembers what terrible, stupid thing these pompous schmucks have said a week later? Someone else has already crammed his foot in his mouth. So let's kick things up a notch and see if anyone takes notice if we put George R. R. Martin in the driver's seat.
I don’t really know if stripping Jeb naked and forcing him through the streets would do any more damage to his reputation than he’s done for himself. That’s not to say I’m not willing to give it a try. He started as the GOP establishment’s golden boy. He was the heir to the throne that his father and brother had already sat in. He was a Bush. And then he showed us that family sometimes doesn’t matter—that you can take all of the goodwill of an established dynasty and squander it in a matter of months.
At this point, the Walk of Atonement isn’t so much a punishment as it is the natural culmination of all his failed political dreams. A recorded speech in front of people who actually took time out of their day to see him once ended in Bush asking for applause—the modern-day equivalent of being dragged naked in front of your peers. Let’s end this poor man’s doomed presidential campaign the right way. Let’s literally drag him naked before our judging eyes as well as figuratively.
Everyone expects a certain amount of sleaze from their politicians. Nobody likes it, but it’s pretty much par for the course. Giving people power is like giving someone with lactose intolerance and indigestion a giant pizza with extra cheese. You know what the results are going to be, even if you don’t want to think about it. But Huckabee one-upped everyone’s expectations by not only finishing the entire pizza himself, but also pocketing the money meant to tip the delivery driver. He sold his followers' email contact information. People expect to be screwed over by politicians, but most of us assume that just means they will ignore all of our wants and needs in favor of plutocracy or our benevolent corporate overlords.
Huckabee is here to remind us that that’s not the case. If left unchecked, most of the people in power would gladly hand over our contact information so companies could spam our inboxes. That’s the kind of shady move we’d perhaps expect from a disreputable online store, but not a presidential candidate. So what kind of spam could you expect if you were a Huckabee supporter? How about Alzheimer's disease cures from snake oil salesman Dr. Russel Baylock, or stock advice from a financial firm fined for fraud and false statements? So when exactly can we strip him naked and force him through the streets of DC?
Do I even need to explain this? The man is a 21st century proto-fascist and racist. I’m sure I just made someone angry, and I’m sure a few more people just joined the Lion Guard to protect violent Trump supporters from protesters while said supporters manhandle a few more people. He encourages violence, xenophobic behavior, and appeals to the worst in us as a nation, and for that alone, he should be dragged naked through the streets by everyone sane enough to recognize the poison he represents. But he won’t be.
So let’s take a look at his not-horrific campaign platform. Supposedly Trump is not a politician but a businessman, which is why we should take him, his hair, and his incoherent speeches seriously. But he inherited all his money and he’s actually worth less now than he would be if he’d just dumped all his money in index funds. He’s failed with Trump Airlines, Trump Vodka, Trump Mortgage, Trump: The Game, and let’s not forget Trump University. A businessman, Trump is not. And what better way to expose him than by making him take the walk of shame… without his hairpiece.
Clinton spent most of the 2016 campaign cycle showing us how much she doesn’t really care. She expects support because she’s sane and regardless of who she goes up against from the Republican Party, they’re all completely out of their minds. And even though many consider this true, that doesn’t mean she should be any less ashamed of herself.
She’s already apologized for praising Nancy Regan for pushing for AIDS epidemic recognition when neither of the Regans did any such thing. She’s refused to release transcripts for paid speeches for Goldman Sachs, who I’m sure we all remember as folks who helped tank the economy. Oh, and this is going back a ways, but she endorsed NAFTA, a free-trade act that has cost the country thousands and thousands of jobs as well as a crackdown on crime in the 90s that produced the current mass incarceration crisis. I think she needs to acknowledge her failures publicly before I’ll feel anything but dirty supporting her.
Obama’s presidency accomplished far less than anyone hoped. The Republican Party promised to stonewall anyone he put forward Justice of the Supreme Court. And who did he pick? Merrick Garland, a nice, safe milquetoast option designed to show how willing he is to work with the Republican Party. I know, I know. It was a political move designed to show us that the GOP is completely devoted to stopping any kind of progress in the desperate hopes that they might just get one of their own in the presidency. But come on. We already know that.
Anyone paying attention has seen it time and time again, so grow a spine, and let’s go. Two terms of playing nice when everyone in the Senate acts like a howling lunatic—he should be ashamed of himself. He had to be angry and frustrated, but instead of going with the Supreme Court nominee he really wanted, all we got is some middle of the road schmuck—the same thing we’ve were given year after year. If we had any spine left ourselves, we’d drag him out for a walk of shame for all of his broken promises, and haul congress out behind him. Oh hey, that leads into our last politician of the day.
Bernie Sanders deserves The Walk of Atonement, but not as penitence to us. Sanders needs to atone with the American Political System for treating us like actual intelligent human beings. If anyone has ever seen the 1998 movie Bulworth, Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign is the closest we’ll probably ever get to a real life version of that with an actual career politician. If this were the movies, Sanders would have ridden a tidal wave of approval to victory followed by a crude, heartwarming speech where he fixes everything wrong with politics forever. Or, spoiler alert, gets shot by an assassin sent by panicked corporations. But this isn't the movies, and the politicians that everyone expects to win will always win.
And so, I posit that Sanders must recognize his mistake. We are not the downtrodden masses of the silver screen who just need the right hero to rally behind. We’re the downtrodden masses who have just given up. We are willing to accept someone who can’t remember who actually pushed for action on the AIDS epidemic while taking money from companies that caused the recession because we’ve been told that’s what’s going to happen. So take your shame-faced, soul-baring, naked walk back home, Bernie, and apologize. Take some corporate money and try again when you’re willing to sell your soul.