The Awl Voter Guide for November 3, 2009

DOUCHEBAGChoire Sicha: The purpose of this morning’s editorial meeting is to discuss our endorsements for tomorrow’s election.

Alex Balk: Oh, is that tomorrow?

Choire Sicha: Yes, the world’s quietest New York City election.

Alex Balk: It’s weird, I haven’t even been robo-called. What the fuck is Mike Bloomberg spending $35,000 an hour on?


Choire Sicha: I think I saw a TV ad this one time as I was fast-forwarding on my DVR?

Choire Sicha: Please tell me our official opinion on Ballot Proposal Number 2:

Amendment to article 3 of the Constitution, in relation to authorizing the Legislature to allow prisoners to voluntarily perform work for nonprofit organizations. The proposed amendment would authorize the Legislature to pass legislation to permit inmates in state and local correctional facilities to perform work for nonprofit organizations. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

Alex Balk: I say Yes! If Bernie Kerik wants to affix a penny to charitable solicitations out of the goodness of his heart who I am to stop him?

Choire Sicha: Agreed. Then I will also vote yes.

Alex Balk: Great! That’s it, right? Nothing else on there?

Choire Sicha: Well… Let us discuss the thorny issue of our vote for mayor.

Alex Balk: I thought the mayor was running unopposed.

Choire Sicha: You would be excused for assuming that. But there is some young upstart named “William C. Thompson Jr.” on my ballot.

Alex Balk: Ah, yes, the fellow from the comptroller’s office. He does not seemed to have waged much of a campaign.

Choire Sicha: (The C. stands for “Colridge”!)

Alex Balk: I’m not sure what his strategy has been. I’ve seen suggestions that he doesn’t want to get too nasty because he plans to run for state comptroller next year and he doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers? But, I mean, it’s a goddamned race. Ruth Messinger knew she was gonna get walloped but she was still out there every day.

Choire Sicha: She sure was. That annoying woman!

Alex Balk: Of course, she was running against pure evil, which provides more motivation.

Choire Sicha: Right. So, here is what my weekend thinking was. It runs on two tracks. One is like, about actual governance. (As in: would this person be a good mayor.) The second track was procedural, in a sense. Like: “Is this person too much of a douchebag to vote for?”

Alex Balk: I am having very similar issues. How do you feel about the current mayor’s performance?

Choire Sicha: I am mixed on the matter. On the one hand? The streets are clean, the city is still standing and I live fairly undisturbed by the workings of the government. Also he is fairly entertaining. On the other hand? He invented the corporate welfare bailout through real estate deals, screwed the city out of millions and millions of dollars, and stood idly by-at best!-while a huge swath of the city became unemployed. And procedurally speaking? AKA, the Douchebag Problem? He is a huge douchebag.

Alex Balk: Of course he’s a douchebag. Get over it, as a famous municipal douchebag is wont to say. You know who was a caring and temperate person? David Dinkins. I’m not sure you can do the job without being a douchebag.

Choire Sicha: Right. BUT. What if Bill Thompson is also a huge douchebag? Which I suspect he is!

Alex Balk: I don’t think he’s the RIGHT kind of douchebag. Ed Koch was also a douchebag, but he was a douchebag in the right way. Giuliani transcends douchebaggery and shoots up to a level of dickslappery for which a word has not yet been invented, but he also had something that made for effective governance (not that I’m endorsing what he did, but he was able to push it through). I don’t get any sense from Thompson that he’d be able to utilize his own internal doucebagness to make things happen.

Choire Sicha: I see.

Alex Balk: I mean, say what you will about Anthony Weiner, you at least can sort of see him whining and yapping and cursing his way through. You’d laugh at his empty threats, but in the end he’d be so GODDAMN ANNOYING that he would wear you down.

Choire Sicha: He wears me down just thinking about him.

Alex Balk: Whereas Thompson? You really gonna worry about something someone named Billy wants you to do? Maybe he should go by Colridge.

Choire Sicha: So… is a vote for Thompson actually an acceptable protest vote?

Alex Balk: Me ten years ago would have been all, FUCK NO, let the Democrats know that they can’t run these kind of candidates anymore. A vote for some other party will stiffen their spines next time and they’ll go for someone who will at least make a race of it. But now? What difference is it going to make? Everyone knew Bloomberg was gonna spend a gajillion dollars to win, that’s why anyone who wanted a future as a potential mayoral candidate stepped out. So, sure, vote for Thompson. I’m actually of the opinion that if there are enough people who pull the lever in protest, it’s at least something you can irritate Bloomberg with for the next four years: “You spent the annual GDP of Brazil to run against BILL THOMPSON and you only got 54% of the vote?”

Choire Sicha: That seems to me to be worth it. Okay. I am voting for Bill Thompson, though not particularly in the interest of having Bill Thompson as mayor, though I wouldn’t hate that, I don’t think. It’s basically a vote for Bernie Goetz, minus some of the crazy. And the veganism.

Alex Balk: There is nothing that gives one more faith in democracy than voting for a guy because you know there’s no danger of him winning.