Unpacking the Sausage: A last dance

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(Please take a moment to put on Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.”)

Ok, last column before Election Day 2022. One last swirl around the dance floor, scanning the prom kings and queens and the wallflowers for someone who brings that special spark.

Bre KidmanSurely there’s some hard-hitting issue worth probing deeper before we take to the polls? Is there a gaggle of girls gossiping around a cigarette in the accessible bathroom stall?

No. There isn’t. It’s painfully obvious to people who are paying attention — but who has the energy to pay attention? The folks who try are essentially like some hapless vice principal at this point, trying to get the truth out of a pack of popular kids — all of whom are spending daddy’s money to divert attention back to whatever bullshit story the party cooked up to appease the donors. That’s how the sausage gets made.

(I was a depressed nerd with a newspaper column in high school. How little things change.)

I often think I’m too angry at our failing system to write this column. I keep at it because writing is a more forgiving medium than others in which I dabble. For example: I know I’m currently too angry to return to a full-time law practice. Painting and performance art are mostly okay, but I reserve the right to remain too angry to return to political candidacy forever.

My experience as a political candidate overlapped with early 2020, so a lot of things were shifting at the time. Still, the genuine mindfuck of seeing up close the way information and power bend to corporate money was so horrifying that I had to press pause on my whole life. 

(Has the disco beat dropped yet? If not, hold here until it does.)

In stark contrast, Tiffany Bond is in her third federal race in five years and has maintained an active family law practice throughout. 

That’s three cycles of major political parties hand-selecting candidates and propping them up with unfathomable sums of money. 

Three cycles of politicians claiming to care about campaign finance and small businesses as they spend millions wallpapering over Bond’s “Maine Raising” campaign strategy — which directs campaign dollars back into the pockets of Maine’s small business owners.

Three cycles of watching nonprofits and media do backbends for corporate-sponsored wax dummies while you’re out there in the cold collecting signatures and screaming at the top of your lungs trying to get anybody to acknowledge the problem that’s been sitting on our coffee table so long we don’t even see it anymore. Can you imagine?

Now imagine doing all that while also raising kids and earning a living by helping people navigate the most stressful times of their lives. Can you honestly say you’d be able to look at any sitting member of Congress getting salary-plus-kickbacks to be a human hot air balloon for corporate donors and not feel absolutely sick with rage?

Tiffany Bond doesn’t let it slow her down. Because Bond makes a point to be accessible, I sent her a DM on Twitter to find out how she’s managed to keep pushing multiple boulders up the hill without getting flattened. 

She said: “The only thing that makes the horror/rage/sadness fade is channeling my heartbreak from a broken system into something that gives me hope.”

I asked if she’d run again after this. She said to ask after the election. 

I hope she keeps dancing, though. The sense of kinship I hold for fellow political wallflowers might be rose-tinting my glasses, but I think people like Tiffany Bond — those precious few who channel rage into useful action over and over again without losing steam or convictions — would be prom queen in a less dysfunctional system. Sure, a less dysfunctional system would probably keep most wallflowers from going out in the first place… but the beat is already bumping. 

So, let’s dance the last dance tonight. Here’s hoping the wallflower spikes the punch and leaves the prom kings a hefty hangover to think about in the morning.

Bre Kidman is an artist, activist, and attorney (in that order), and the first openly non-binary person in history to run for the U.S. Senate. They would be delighted to hear your thoughts on the political industrial complex at [email protected].

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