Graffiti outside the bar where the Tulsi Gabbard debate watch party was held in Manchester, New Hampshire. Not a poor illustration of the political process, either.
Before we commence the seventh devastating round of these masochistic Democratic debates, we really ought to identify the eponymous masochist in this televised orgy of political sodomy. Is it the shameless politician who prostrates himself before a national audience, vowing his submission to the most ruthless desires of an insatiable electorate? Is it the voter who yields to the candidate’s lust for power, his machtgelüst, and makes himself the vessel whereby the powerbroker achieves his righteous climax? Or is it you, the reader, who, in your obsequious affections for Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, or Bernie Sanders—let us not pretend you are hard-hearted enough to support any of the other contestants—have emerged from the romantic depths convinced that your beloved will inevitably triumph?
Alas, even at their most humbling state, none of these could be as pathetic as I. While the politician degrades himself in the present, he does so only in the pursuit of a dignified future; and although the voters volunteer themselves for another’s service, they, too, do so in the belief that their work will eventually redound back unto them. I, on the other hand, stand to gain nothing at all from my continuous immersion in the squalor, in the swampy spectacle of wealthy warmongers squabbling like drunks at the bar—and not unlike drunks at the bar, bullying the few intellectual adults out of the discussion. Why do I subject myself to such bitter inanity when I lack even the foolhardy hope that good will prevail? Must I do so only out of a suicidal penchant for the grief that poisons my heart? Ridi del duol che t’avvelena il cor? Or is the grief laughing at me?
Masochism remains an unfathomable neurosis. Self-preservation is a straightforward instinct, but to take pleasure in the most convoluted, melodramatic, and unnecessary pageantry of this instinct betrays a depth of suffering that never can be measured. Even my own masochism bewilders me. Is it my way of preparing myself for the worst, a rational pessimism readying me for Gabbard’s inevitable electoral loss? It can’t be, because I take no pleasure in the slow political execution of Gabbard through the hemlock of shadow blocking, and in any case, I know whence this rational pessimism stems: I learned it from my own misguided, ill-fated confidence in Ron Paul’s campaign eight years ago. Meanwhile, the source of my masochism remains a mystery.