A Candidate to Save Us From Fried Chicken and Janet Jackson

Crispin Sartwell's most recent book is "Six Names of Beauty" (Routledge 2004).

Closing statement of Crispin Sartwell, the Nihilist candidate for president, at Wednesday’s debate on domestic policy:

My fellow Americans. As president, I will have only one commitment, one concern, indeed only one thought, if that: to keep America safe.

Safety has been the overriding theme of American life, and the founders, far from being interested in freedom or resenting confiscatory taxation, were concerned only to keep from injuring themselves. They managed to achieve this admirable goal by drafting our beloved Constitution.


Back then, we were immune from pain, privation and death. Essentially immortal, we flitted hither and yon in our suburban neighborhoods, strumming golden harps. There were, of course, a few injuries associated with the Civil War, but for the most part complete safety was maintained.

By Sept. 10, 2001, our inner cities were places of shelter and rest, where dignified addicts shared their crack with one another. Our school shooters fired harmlessly into the air, in a pure celebration of education. Our highways were accident-free. There were no hurricanes or tornadoes, no earthquakes or cancers.

Then came the fateful events of Sept. 11, 2001, which changed America forever.

On that fateful September day, we came face to face with danger. And we quailed. We became, my fellow Americans, a nation of cowards.

I am proud to lead such a nation, for I myself am a coward. I am afraid of my own shadow, which is why I favor equipping all Americans with a raking overhead light rig that would simulate the noonday sun. As president, I will strengthen our alliances in order to find someone -- it may have to be a Muslim -- willing to hunt down the terrorists in the holes where they hide and kill them. I will inspect everything all the time, from cargo containers to your very underwear.

I will secure our borders by enclosing the United States within high electrified walls. As a proud American, I swallow a variety of medications every day, which is why I support a prescription drug plan for all Americans. I would start by instructing my broker to buy stock in Upjohn and then we will provide Xanax for all. And you will take it, because then you’ll be a little less scared.

I have a bold new plan for tort reform that can be captured in two words: warning labels. I will place warning labels on all the stuff you might trip over: chairs, cats, cracks in the sidewalk, toddlers. I will put warning labels on fried chicken, Arabs, Janet Jackson’s breasts and John Ashcroft’s forehead. Warning: In event of wind, this tree may fall down and crush you like the meaningless insect you are. There is no reason that every American cannot be fitted with air bags, because there’s no telling, really, what you might reel into next in your medication-induced euphoria. Many Americans have asked me, ‘How will you pay for all these programs, to the tune of a thousand-trillion dollars, while still cutting taxes for the middle class? But that kind of thinking represents the outmoded politics of the past. I have no idea how to pay for all this. I only know that it must be done and it can be done, for we are the greatest nation in the history of the world, and we must march forward together into our glittering destiny.


But we must do so carefully.