Tonight, at what’s widely believed to be the last debate that matters, the most important candidate for the Republican nomination won’t be on stage. Instead, it will be somewhere in space, hurtling remorselessly toward our small blue planet for what may or may not be a rendezvous with the destiny of all Americans, and 99 percent of Earth’s carbon-based life forms.
Despite a growing number of endorsements from influential conservatives and strong second-choice polling numbers, unless it crashes the party tonight, we won’t be hearing from the Sweet Meteor of Death (SMOD).
Not long ago, only Democrats and media elites dared portray Republicans as driven by an all-consuming lust for destruction. During the cruel summer of the debt ceiling fight, Annie Lowrey—now of The New York Times—summed up ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi like this: “She believes Republicans are essentially political nihilists, and she has plans to prevent them from winning again.”
Little did Pelosi and American liberals know that, come winter, many rock-ribbed Republicans would take political hardcore to the ultimate level and hatch a revolutionary new agenda: prevent themselves from winning the 2012 election.
“I would have to compromise my intellectual honesty too much to choose any of the remaining candidates,” wrote Erick Erickson, the most influential conservative talking head on a cable network not called Fox. “I put my weight behind the sweet meteor of death.”
Shortly before Erickson’s surprise endorsement, another blogger made of pure conservatism, Ace of Spades, quoted approvingly and at length from the only candidate for the Republican nomination that offered pure obliteration.
I want to stop the partisan sniping and bickering of rivals that characterizes the political process. And I want you to never have to vote for the lesser of two evils ever again.
My platform: Death. To expunge. The annihilation of all life on Earth.
“SMOD,” Ace enthused. “An End to Politics As Usual. Forever.”
At last, Republicans have found a candidate who can outdo Barack Obama in change you have no choice but to believe in.
In a political climate where only the specter of total catastrophe can transform the average Republican primary voter from an Essence-drained podling into a caucusing, door-knocking, precinct-walking powerhouse, SMOD harkens back to a simpler time—when mass-extinction events were occasion for quiet personal reflection and a fatalistically stoic embrace of our cosmic destiny.
Signs of the apocalypse vote are everywhere. Typically ebullient primary nights are now garlanded with the stench of death, as Mitt Romney sings patriotic hymns like the Titanic’s bandleader and Newt Gingrich shamelessly panders to SMOD’s growing suicide-pact constituency. Morbidly low turnout in the early caucuses and primaries reflects a growing preference on the part of grassroots activists for sitting at home waiting for a vast Object from another galaxy to blot out the sun and destroy us all.
And internal polls conducted by at least three campaigns show a sharp drop in popularity for free screenings of conservative staples like Red Dawn, Young Guns, and Running Man, in favor of newer fare like Armageddon and The Fifth Element. Privately, representatives concede that the top response among primary voters answering post-screening questionnaires about their rooting habits is “Against Mankind.”
Republicans are accustomed to drawing life-affirming strength in election years from one faction of the party or another. When the establishment is enfeebled, the base is in a primal froth. When the base is disorganized or dispirited, the establishment closes ranks and runs the show.
Not this time.
Unmet expectations and chronic disappointments haunt every fragment and taint every flavor of Republicanism. After dispatching each rival thrown at him, Romney now seems unable to convince conservatives that he should not be replaced with Rick Santorum. After paddling his way through wave after wave of grassroots favorites, Rick Santorum now seems unable to convince the conservative media that he isn’t the third coming of Bush-era big government. Newt Gingrich, who once seemed as supple and dangerous as a spitting cobra, is now the horserace’s ourobouros.
Outside the field, things are no different, except where they’re worse. No mortal being seemed capable of sidelining New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, but he proved it was possible by sidelining himself. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is a heartbreaker. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal endorsed Rick Perry. Sarah Palin is in liminal space. Even Ron Paul and his vaunted ground game have underperformed. The Tea Party’s substantial victories now seem like specks in the rearview mirror.
The disarray would be shocking if it hadn’t all been predicted long ago by the Mayans. Indeed, from their fully informed, fully doomed perspective, the impact of SMOD is hardly restricted to Republicans alone. In case you hadn’t noticed, the soul of 2008 has been almost fully extracted from the Democrats. A majority of liberals now support drone strikes on American citizens. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, unable to decide whether to laugh or cry, has announced that he sees no need to vote on the president’s new budget, which everyone freely admits is a piece of campaign performance art.
It’s a nice symmetry, if nothing else: the left supports Obama because he is better than nothing, and the right supports SMOD because he is better than Obama. In an era of endless stimulus, 2012 is set to bring us the most exhausted electorate in our lifetimes. Poor Republicans: they can’t even win at nihilism.
James Poulos is a columnist at The Daily Caller. He is on Twitter at @jamespoulos.