Office coffee smells like coffee in the little pre-measured pouch, aromatic and enticing, even hopeful. It looks legitimately like coffee when it brews. It even taste a little like coffee in the first few seconds of its existence. But all hope is quickly dashed after having more than a taste, and all that remains is the weak bitterness of dashed hopes and the stale shame of being fooled again. It reminds me of election years.
The similarities between elections and office coffee are many. Both are packaged, filtered and watered down. Inside those packages aren’t the best products either. Neither the coffee nor the politicians being sold would be desired in a free market with many choices. When the thin perceptions are stripped away to reveal the hoax that was lurking behind the mask, disappointment follows. Yet so many of us can be fooled into thinking this next batch, in essentially the same portioned packet with the deceiving aroma of freshness, can offer hope for something tasty and satisfying.
In the 2004 presidential election, I was taken by the hype of Micheal Badnarik and the enthusiasm for this new Libertarian Party candidate. Having never paid much attention to the elections and candidates with any more interest than a spectator (I was always skeptical of the whole process), the hope and rhetoric was infectious. I thought he had a chance (only to make some waves, which is victory enough for a third party in national elections). It was different from years past, better than ever, if the talk was to be believed. Alas, it was more of the same and not even as good as in previous years. My lesson was complete and I ducked off of the political merry-go-round for good.
This year Ron Paul, a former Libertarian Party candidate for president, has the hopeful hype behind him. Using the energy third-party candidates usually expend on actually getting on the ballot, trying to get media attention, and be considered for debates and election events, Dr. Paul has been in several debates already, is automatically on the primary ballots due to his affiliation with the Republican Party, and has raised several times the amount of money that Micheal Badnarik was able to muster. On the surface it seems that liberty has a chance to be elected again, just in time for a big election.
There is always hope, that is until the product is filtered and watered down to generate the most appeal to the largest number of people possible. Don’t be surprised when the brewing is done, all the votes are cast, and the bitter taste of the lowest common denominator is stuck in your mouth. Some people try this charade over and over before they get any kind of eye-opening effect. They brew the same coffee in the same manner several times a day, morning after morning, and they vote the same way for the same people (essentially), election after election. Some coffee drinkers come to like the office coffee, but it is their tastes that change over time and not the coffee. Some voters become happier and happier with results of elections not because the votes are working, but because their desires and expectations adapt to the results and their desires change. Then there are those who think outside of the usual grind and drink tea, or those who decide to not bother trying to vote for their freedom or whatever ends they desire and just make it happen themselves. There will always be another cup of weak, stale coffee in the office pot. Some will continue to drink while complaining every time, trying to add sugar or creamer to dress it up and hide the awful taste. Many more continue to vote, while complaining the whole time, and waiting for someone else to make the changes they would like to see.