In April 2015 we received the following press release:
Will Sparrow Run?
Now that Hillary Clinton has officially declared her candidacy, all eyes are on Sparrow, the reclusive poet-mystic of Phoenicia, New York, who has campaigned for President in the last six elections, appealing mostly to dyspeptic anarchists. Sparrow is evasive about whether he will run in 2016: “Maybe six campaigns is sufficient,” he muses, stirring oatmeal in his doublewide trailer at the foot of Mount Romer.
Sparrow initially ran for the Oval Office in 1992, when he first fulfilled the requirement of being at least thirty-five years old. His second campaign produced the classic (and long out-of-print) book Republican like Me. That year Sparrow attempted to secure the Republican nomination. Failing this, he founded the Real-Publican Party. Over the years he has also created the Pajama Party, the Ear of Corn Party, and the Sudoku for All Party.
Sparrow has consistently asked his supporters not to vote for him, and this election is no exception. Why, then, does he run?
“I run for President for the same reason that one runs to the store,” the poet explains: “to pick up a few necessary items I have forgotten.”
Despite the uncertain tone of his press release, we felt safe in predicting that Sparrow would run for president in 2016, and that The Sun would be his primary source of media coverage. With the publication of his campaign journal, both predictions have come true.
Please note that, although we usually lowercase the word president when it stands alone, Sparrow says that he runs only for the “capital-P Presidency.”
April 30, 2015
I’m not sure I want to be President. Perhaps I have grown disillusioned. In fact, roughly sixteen times in my life I have been disillusioned. But each time, almost immediately, I have swiftly become re-illusioned.
I miss those terror alerts under the last Bush administration. It seemed like every day there was a new color to designate our collective level of fear.
I’m going to call my new party the Red Alert Party — to bring back the mild hysteria of the early 2000s, but also to emphasize that there is a crisis.
In this country we live individually but sleep collectively, and in our dreams we meet others as equals, work together, and share pleasures. Sleep is the oldest form of socialism.
Let the other candidates run for the waking Presidency. My goal is to govern the world while everyone is asleep, to rule the Nation of Dreams.
Today I realized that philanthropy literally means “love of humanity.” It does not involve money. A penniless woman who smiles at everyone is a bona fide philanthropist.
In the nineteenth century the U.S.A. seized one-third of Mexico but not one inch of Canada. The Canadians (who were not yet called “Canadians”) beat us back. Never forget that.
Where is Al Gore in this election cycle? Probably he’s drifted to a furnished room in downtown Nashville, where he’s writing (on a typewriter) a long novel about global warming that will never be published. Another tragic loss to American political life.
Today, in the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, I was filling up my bottle at a water fountain when a homeless woman came up behind me.
“I’m sorry,” I said to her, because the bottle was filling slowly.
“Every time I get here, you’re ahead of me!” she replied, chuckling.
Because I wear thrift-shop clothes, have a scraggly beard, and carry scuffed bags, she had mistaken me for another vagabond. Even homeless people think I’m homeless.
This is the first election in which transgender and post-gender voters will be a significant factor. At my parents’ house on Sunday I heard an interview with South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham, who has just entered the race. He was asked his opinion of transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner, and his reply was that he hoped Caitlyn Jenner would vote for him. And he’s a Republican!
To those who have switched genders or are genderless, I say: Join my crusade! Together we will fashion a new America, unburdened by outmoded theories of “opposite” sexes clad in pink and blue. We will become beings.
The last time I was in New York City, my daughter and I ate at a Thai restaurant with lots of mirrors and outdoor seating, like a Parisian cafe. The young maître d’ wore a peace sign around his neck.
Three days later I’m still recalling that peace sign. Without saying a word, this bearded fellow in a pretentious eatery expressed the sentiment that war is evil and useless.
I’d thought I was sick of the peace sign, that cheap, once-ubiquitous hippie symbol. But this young soul revived its meaning for me.
Logically there should be three houses in Washington, D.C.: the Red House, the White House, and the Blue House — and within them, three Presidents. The Red states elect one, the Blue states another, and all the states together elect the third.
Why has no one else thought of this?
Most American-studies textbooks should be reclassified as “historical fiction.”
People sometimes say, “He’s richer than God,” but no one ever says, “He’s richer than Jesus” — because everyone is richer than Jesus. At his death, Jesus’s wealth consisted of one robe.
I am conducting my Presidential campaign in part over Twitter (if, indeed, I am campaigning; I haven’t decided yet). Here is one of my tweets: “It’s a hoax: no one can be as stupid as Donald Trump pretends to be.”
In case you’re reading this in the twenty-fifth century: Donald Trump is a sixty-nine-year-old, bullying, clownish, impulsive, racist, headline-grabbing billionaire from Queens (a borough of New York City) who has decided, for the second time, to run for President. Sometimes called “The Donald,” this plutocrat is best known for (1) naming numerous ugly high-rise buildings after himself, (2) owning casinos, (3) being the author of The Art of the Deal, a self-help guide for would-be billionaires, (4) wearing an absurd blond toupee, (5) starring in a reality TV show called The Apprentice (in which his catchphrase is “You’re fired!”), and (6) having a series of attractive wives who seem quietly contemptuous of him.
Last December I went to a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Washington Square Park. Eric Garner, a forty-three-year-old Staten Island man, had been killed by the police for selling loose cigarettes — although on the day he was killed, he hadn’t been selling them. A policeman stopped him, the two men struggled, and the cop put Garner in a chokehold. Though Garner cried out, “I can’t breathe!” the officer continued to choke him, and Garner died. A grand jury decided no crime had been committed. The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, would not go to trial. That was the reason for our protest.
The crowd was large, diverse, and energetic despite the cold December day. I was surprised how many mild-mannered young hipsters had come with handmade signs. Most amazing was the sense of racial unity. Whites and blacks stood bravely together as they rarely had since the civil-rights movement in the sixties. I sat on a bench some distance from the main rally, eating my lunch next to the sign I’d made: RACISM HURTS US ALL. A young black woman with a child took my photograph, then said, “Thank you.” I had tears in my eyes.
I dream my wife, Violet, and I are driving through a post-apocalyptic landscape in a station wagon. Our plan is to reach a deserted military base, where we hope to find food and supplies. Other cars are stopped in front of us, and we slow to a halt. Suddenly someone opens the back of the station wagon and passes a small child to me. I take the boy, who is about seven and frightened. A black man in his thirties crawls in after him. The space in the back of the car is so tight that our faces are almost pressed together. I’m a little afraid.
“You hate me, don’t you?” the man asks.
“No,” I reply, genuinely surprised.
I awaken in my pre-apocalyptic bedroom.
Even in my dreams I’m struggling with racism.
My wife and I recently celebrated our twenty-sixth anniversary. What’s our secret of marital success? Separate blankets. I sleep under seven layers, even in summer, whereas Violet needs only one or two blankets, even in the Catskills winter.
Having separate blankets means we don’t steal the covers from each other at 3 AM. Few other couples have discovered this arrangement, which is why the divorce rate in the U.S.A. is so high.
As President I will offer marital counseling to my fellow citizens, appended to my speeches on tariff reform.
Everyone has faith that time is uniform and predictable, unspooling with an absolute regularity, measurable by any clock. When I am President, I will bend time, squeeze time, form time into figure eights. I will prove, indisputably, that time is a hoax.
It’s a shame no one is allowed to sleep in a museum. Wouldn’t it be nice to awaken surrounded by Vermeers and Kandinskys? Once I am President, I will launch a pilot program allowing six people a night to bed down in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. If no one pees on a Rubens, we will slowly expand the program until thousands of lucky Americans are sleeping every night in our citadels of art.
Yesterday I walked outside with my wife. “The Saint-John’s-wort is flowering,” Violet remarked. She had planted some in the garden: a spindly plant with delicate yellow flowers.
“Wasn’t Saint-John’s-wort a fad a few years ago?” I asked.
“Yes, it’s supposed to cure depression.”
That’s it! For my healthcare reform I will offer all Americans Saint-John’s-wort. It’s a weed that grows freely, so there’s enough for all. A little sprig in boiling water is all one needs. Most likely the tea will have no effect, but it can’t hurt, and the gesture of imbibing a weed is health-producing in itself.
Capitalism is the opposite of love. It’s a system that says: “No one is truly selfless. People must be rewarded, or they will do nothing.”
Suppose there were another way, a social order governed by love. Let’s call it “amorism.” (Amor means “love” in Spanish.) In this system you become prominent not by swindling others but by loving the most. The more kindness you show, the higher your social status.
Amorism has never been tried, perhaps because we’ve been tricked into believing the “free market” is the only feasible system. But one day we’ll discover that capitalism, for all its cynical certainties, is quite brittle. And the opposite of brittleness is love.
I have a theory that the word God is actually the beginning of a word that continues endlessly, like the mathematical value pi.
I am the only Presidential candidate to demand the release of the POWs from the War on Drugs.
I used to run for President as a clown, but the Republicans now have that covered. So my new plan is to run as a sage.
An expert on MSNBC says, “The polls show that Americans don’t like any of these candidates. There is a reaction against the ‘political class.’ ”
This could be my big chance!
I watched the Republican debates three days ago. Ten candidates were arrayed in a semicircle, all of them pledging to return America to its former greatness.
Personally I am delighted that America is no longer great. If elected, I will gently nudge our nation toward a mildly befuddled humility.
Americans smile entirely too much. It’s painful to see people who haven’t been happy in years grinning maddeningly in the aisles of Target, like robots programmed to display a simulacrum of joy.
When I am Chief Executive, I will set a better example, staring into the camera day after day without facial falsity. And I will invite other frowners to the White House: botanists, junkies, ranch hands, jazz musicians.
Last Tuesday my friend Norman was visiting from Brooklyn. As we walked across a bridge over the Esopus Creek, he looked down and pointed a finger in awe. Below us on the shore was a full-grown black bear. With one swift motion the animal jumped into the river, where it resembled a floating rug. On the other side the bear climbed out to explore a campsite. It prowled around with a frustrated look, as if thinking, Where are the damned Fritos?
Is this bear a shamanic sign, telling me to run for President? (Or possibly for President of Russia?)
Yesterday, walking to the hardware store, I passed a flag I had never seen before. It was an American flag, but on the edge was written in big black letters: PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN — as if no ordinary American flag conveyed that triumphal message.
This flag infuriated me. (I am easily offended politically.) I decided to manufacture a series of flags with these messages:
EMBARRASSED TO BE AN AMERICAN BEWILDERED TO BE AN AMERICAN ASTONISHED TO BE AN AMERICAN TOO POOR TO BE AN AMERICAN
Donald Trump wants to build a wall along our border with Mexico. Has anyone explained the Mexican-American War to him? The southwest portion of our nation was stolen from our neighbor. In other words, Trump wants to build a wall between Mexico and Mexico.
Today I was interviewed for a program on WBAI, a progressive nonprofit radio station in New York City. My friend Jack Shalom, who conducted the interview, slyly said: “I know you have run for President in the last six elections. Perhaps you have an announcement for our listeners today?”
I wasn’t expecting this. In a moment of reckless abandon I announced my candidacy for President of the United States.
Immediately I feared I’d made a mistake. This is the drawback of meddling with the media — you get excited by the attention and blurt out spontaneous nonsense.
I sometimes earn extra income by writing bumper stickers such as who will bury the last bee? or free range, grass-fed hippie. I would write the bumper sticker DONALD TRUMP FOR DICTATOR, but too many people wouldn’t realize it was a joke.
Bernie Sanders, the U.S. senator from Vermont who announced his candidacy with little fanfare four months ago, has become a serious challenger for the Democratic nomination.
Moses said: “I set before you today a blessing and a curse.” Clearly this was a prophecy about Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
Why have a President, Trump’s supporters think, when you can have a CEO? The Donald promises action unencumbered by debate and compromise. After all, a CEO is closer to a feudal lord than to an elected official. If he wants to build a two-thousand-mile wall between the U.S.A. and Mexico, he issues the order, and his workers act. It’s bold, it’s efficient, it’s moderately insane. But it’s the opposite of gridlock.
I received an e-mail from Jack Shalom informing me that my interview will air this Thursday. I have three more days until I am publicly in the Presidential race. For the time being I’m still an undercover candidate.
People always ask me: “Why are you running if you don’t want votes?”
There’s a lot more to a campaign than a few melancholy electoral affirmations. There are torchlight parades, anti-racism carnivals, quilting bees. I run for the pageantry, not to convince a couple of lonely weirdos to pull a lever with my name on it.
Here’s a new idea: I’ll start the Selfie Party. Instead of voting for me, sympathetic citizens will just take a selfie with me. This could revolutionize our democracy. I’ll lose the election but win on social media, where it really counts.
In ancient Ireland bards were spiritual leaders. If today’s Presidents were chosen for their poetic skills, I’d probably win. I occasionally write a pretty good poem, such as:
A Paradox Birds fear me though I’ve never hurt one.
I’m not a pacifist — I don’t oppose every war — but I am against the vast majority of state-sponsored blood baths.
In 1967 I was against only one war, the war in Vietnam. (I was thirteen years old.) Over time I have come to oppose many wars, some of which occurred 1,200 years ago — for example, Charlemagne’s conquest of Lombardy. I am also against future conflicts, such as all the wars of the thirty-seventh century.
I never drink alcohol, for two reasons: I don’t like the taste, and it makes me woozy. But I sense disapproval whenever I mention this. Once, the U.S.A. had Prohibition; now we have its opposite: the social pressure to drink a beer. It’s time for a new temperance movement: a coalition of 12-steppers, Muslims, born-again Christians, straight-edge punks, yogis, and ordinary people who happen to dislike alcohol. We’re not against Budweiser; we just demand our right to sip seltzer without feeling antisocial. We may not drink, but we can still dance in a frenzy, tell dirty jokes, strip off our clothes. Our slogan will be: “You don’t have to get drunk to act nuts!”
The more security guards I see, the more insecure I feel.
People often think my Presidential campaign is a joke. In fact, it’s the one serious thing I do. Every four years I write what I believe with as much clarity as I can.
And what do I believe about the U.S.A.? That we are an empire, which means we see the world as a diorama to construct. Most of us made dioramas in third grade. We would begin with a shoe box and transform it into a small room — perhaps a log cabin circa 1839. We’d make a bed out of Play-Doh, and a desk out of a little wooden block. For a protagonist, we might set out a Lego person. Our nation rearranges the world as if it were a diorama: we invade Afghanistan, build air bases in Scotland, spread McDonald’s to the four corners of the earth. But our diorama is drenched in blood — real human blood, not the blood of Lego people.
Why is Bernie so successful? Because prolonged exposure to Donald Trump has transformed 40 percent of Democrats into socialists.
Abraham Lincoln’s position on slavery is difficult for us to understand today. Lincoln, a Republican, personally hated the “peculiar institution,” but he didn’t want to abolish it, or force slave masters to be more humane, or even make it easier for slaves to buy their freedom. The Republicans had only one demand: that slavery not extend into the new western territories. This doctrine seems absurdly limited, yet it is the position of today’s liberals toward prisons. America has the largest prison population of any nation — around 2.2 million, with black men more than six times as likely as white men to be incarcerated. Is there a movement to abolish prisons? Yes, a movement with about 122 members. Most progressives simply oppose new prisons being built.
Meanwhile many Republicans wish to put more people behind bars. Is this disagreement enough to start a new Civil War? Probably not. But the Civil War itself was largely unforeseen.
The 2008 election of Barack Obama was a crisis for racists: How could an African American be commander in chief? Soon they came up with an answer: he was not a real African American but an immigrant from Africa (and also a Muslim). He wasn’t their President at all.
On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced the start of the Space Race, an epic endeavor to put a man on the moon before the Soviets. It’s time our nation united again around a single goal. On my first day as President I will announce the “Inner Space Race”: a battle to achieve Total Cosmic Illumination faster than other nations. I guarantee that an American will be the first to attain true enlightenment — as certified by the Dalai Lama — through a strenuous regime of meditation, fasting, prayer, tantric study, and alternate-nostril breathing.
Donald Trump says he wouldn’t rule out a database of Muslims in the U.S.A. I say we keep a watch list of billionaires, in case they are all as xenophobic and screwy as Trump.
Some have complained about the number of Republicans running, but not me. I want even more Republican candidates. I’d like to see a debate among 141 right-wing creationists in blue suits.
Meanwhile membership in the Republican Party is in decline. The fewer Republicans there are in America, the more Republican candidates we get. By 2166 the Republican Party will be all candidates.
Donald Trump is like an aging man you meet at a bus stop and aimlessly begin conversing with. Then, to your horror, he makes increasingly malicious remarks about Muslims, gays, and Puerto Ricans. You can’t stop him; you’re afraid to disagree with him; you’re in a kind of purgatory, desperately hoping the bus will come.
This is the most popular Republican in America.
Thank God there are no trillionaires!
I’m teaching myself to drop a glass, then catch it before it hits the ground. This will give me the dexterity I’ll need for the Presidency.
January 5, 2016
In my lifetime Americans have directed their hatred at many different “others”: the “gooks” in Korea, the “Reds” in America (and also in the Soviet Union), the “gooks” in Vietnam, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Manuel Noriega, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein — and now immigrants and Muslims. There have been about four years since my birth without a national villain — and that’s not counting white Americans’ enduring hostility toward African Americans.
And what’s the cause of it all? Self-hatred. Trump lovers, who are all ultimately immigrants, now direct their immense anger toward immigrants. This is, by definition, self-hatred.
Our nation needs a sensitive and comforting therapist. In the absence of such a professional, I will have to suffice.
At first Donald Trump was funny; it was possible to see him as intentionally absurd. His profuse improvisations had a comedic rhythm. “I’m a builder; I know how to build walls,” he said, contemplating the two-thousand-mile wall he promises to erect between Mexico and the U.S.A. But after the ISIS attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, he wants a “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering our country, and wouldn’t rule out internment camps like those used against Japanese Americans in World War II.
I should have known that fascism would come to America in the guise of stand-up comedy.
Dear Mr. Trump:
Must we build a wall between our nation and Mexico? It seems so paranoid. How about a two-thousand-mile-long window instead?
I have a new economic innovation for my Presidential campaign: The “Drop the Zero” plan. It’s quite simple. We will divide all economic transactions by ten; in other words, drop the final zero. Instead of an apartment costing $1,500 a month, it will cost $150. A loaf of bread will cost thirty-two cents. (Of course, your paycheck will be $62 instead of $620.) For about five years everything you buy will seem unbelievably cheap. The world will feel more manageable. Nothing will change, yet everything will change. Pennies will be useful again. Workers will strike for another five cents an hour. Harvard tuition will cost $5,000 a year. A comic book will be twenty cents. We’ll all feel like we’ve stepped back into 1951.
Once I’m President, I will redesign the Great Seal of the United States, replacing the eagle with a sparrow. I know it’s narcissistic, but, believe me, you need a little narcissism to run for the highest office in the land. Besides, the eagle has been bad news for the U.S.A. This predatory bird has inspired two centuries of unnecessary wars. With the innocent sparrow as our mascot, our karma will change. America will radiate chirpy peacefulness.
Last night Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. It was delightful.
I support Bernie, though our two campaigns are quite different. He is speaking to the general public; I am speaking to you, the quiet but capable reader. He is formulating policy; I am articulating high fantasy. Both approaches are necessary to remake America.
Tonight I walked in a snowstorm to my poetry class and back. Snow covered everything except the river. When snow falls into the Esopus, it stops being snow. The river reminds snowflakes that they’re really water.
Political Question Conservatives love the past. Progressives love the future. But who loves the present?
In my lifetime the Republicans have gone from the Silent Majority to the Insane Minority.
Americans hate government bureaucracy so much, they’ve replaced it with the world’s most intricate and maddening bureaucracy-for-profit: the insurance industry.
I am the only candidate concerned about illegal emigration. Thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — of Americans are wandering around Costa Rica or Portugal without proper visas. Who knows what kind of havoc they’re causing?
Ted Cruz accused Donald Trump of having “New York values.” In his usual evasive way, Trump responded by describing the heroism of New Yorkers after 9/11.
I am the only candidate to declare: “I have nothing but New York values!” I believe in sitting in a subway car with infants, slouching teenagers, octogenarians, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Mexicans, Colombians, Ecuadoreans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans — some legal, some illegal, some eating pizza, some reading The New York Times — all of us speeding through the Stygian darkness of a deep Brooklyn tunnel.
It feels like American democracy is going into extra innings.
Will Donald Trump start a race war? It’s not impossible. His followers have guns. Already audiences at his rallies have grown to resemble angry mobs, shoving and sometimes punching Black Lives Matter activists. Suppose a Trump lover brings a gun? An argument escalates, and an activist gets shot. Maybe next time, the protesters bring guns.
The prelude to the Civil War began in 1854 after the Kansas-Nebraska Act called for a popular vote to decide whether Kansas should be a slave state. Violence broke out between armed slavery advocates and abolitionists. An election can spark a war.
After another shooting, Right and Left agree that we need better mental-health services in this country. And we could easily train every police officer to be a therapist — probably for free. (Psychotherapists would volunteer to educate the police force.) But Americans don’t want compassionate cops; they want the Iron Fist.
Non-President Like all Americans (except one) I am a non-President.
How did Donald Trump stumble into pure American fascism? My guess is that it began with the slogan “Make America Great Again,” which unleashes imperial impulses. That’s why my slogan is “Make America Inconspicuous.”
Hillary’s nomination is looking inevitable. Now just one woman (who happens to be under investigation by the FBI) stands between us and a charismatic dictator. It’s like living in Germany in 1932.
I visited my friend Emory Cranston yesterday. “We have to decide where to live if Trump is elected President,” he said. Emory was leaning toward Iceland: “I had a friend who lived there for several months. He said it was like paradise. All people do is have sex and drink. Plus everyone is a published poet!”
A nation of poets seems more like hell to me.
Those sixties leftists were wrong: one can be part of the problem and part of the solution. Take me, for example.
As the patriarchy is dying, it thrashes about like a wounded rat. That thrashing is the Trump campaign.
Ted Cruz was on Fox News last night, being interviewed by Megyn Kelly, a sworn enemy of Donald Trump. Together they were plotting the destruction of the egotistical billionaire. In reference to the malicious tweets Trump sends out, Cruz explained, “When Trump is feeling insecure late at night, he attacks someone. For some reason he’s particularly threatened by strong women; I don’t know why.”
Cruz, a vicious, shifty-eyed totalitarian himself, came off as a compassionate psychiatrist.
My campaign is a satire of satire.
I love New York City; it’s my birthplace and still my favorite town to visit. For decades it’s been an axiom that no New Yorker could be President — we’re too different from most Americans, too much like Europeans, always searching out art galleries and cafes and mixed-media theatrical works staged in East Village basements. None of us longs for the American Dream of a house and a lawn and a swimming pool. We have the Parisian Dream of a meaningful life surrounded by swarms of strangers.
Yet, of the four front-runners in this election, two are from the city of New York, and one, Hillary, is from a nearby suburb. Both of the “angry insurgents” grew up in the five boroughs. Bernie’s from Brooklyn; Trump, from Queens. In fact, I see this election as a battle between Brooklyn and Queens. Brooklyn still has a proletarian vibe; it’s a borough of workers. Queens, with its private homes and driveways, has a touch of the bourgeois. In Brooklyn one awaits the revolution; in Queens one dreams of owning a carwash.
Today is the New York primary. I finally have the chance to vote for Bernie.
I love Bernie and the hope that he offers, but his hectoring, moral superiority, and humorlessness annoy me. As a stand-up comedian I saw said: “Bernie always seems to be giving a speech outside the university that just fired him.”
Trump is constantly astonished by his own good fortune. He is clearly having the most fun of any candidate — including me.
Today I performed at a rock club in Bushwick with the band Mobile Steam Unit. The band’s members and I met a couple of months ago at a benefit for Syrian refugees, and I am now their “guest poet,” reading my poems over two of their songs. In the break between sets I was supposed to give a Presidential speech, but I forgot. Here’s what I’d planned to say:
I know a lot of you think Hillary is the Antichrist, but vote for her anyway. If Trump wins, three years from now I will meet you in a prison camp in Arizona — along with thirty thousand Muslims and every member of the Black Lives Matter movement — and you’ll say to me, “You were right: I should’ve voted Democratic.”
In this country we have abolished the class system. Everyone in America is middle-class. Billionaires are middle-class people with a lot of money; the homeless are middle-class people with nowhere to live.
I recently calculated that I have spent twenty solid months of my life in meditation. (That’s one hour a day times forty-one years.) This alone qualifies me to be President.
We had a mild winter, and now a cool spring. Clearly the global-warming future will be one long, indeterminate season — springsummerfallwinter — with occasional deadly catastrophes.
Now that humans have wrecked the weather, what else can we ruin? Gravity? Time?
It’s pretty certain now who the nominees on both sides will be. Though Bernie’s supporters believe they’ve been cheated, Hillary seems unstoppable. And Trump has just plain won the Republican battle. But the two contenders have not yet squared off. Clinton is largely invisible while Trump is ubiquitous. Americans today are like heroin addicts who need the kick of Trump’s bullying quips to feel truly alive. “Politics as usual” bores us. We’d rather build a useless two-thousand-mile wall than struggle with poverty, global warming, the perilous state of our schools, the longest wars in our history.
In this country most of us are taught the evils of communism from a young age. And communism has had its share of failures. But everyone is a communist deep inside. Politeness is communism. Kindness is communism. Waiting in line is communism. Giving up your seat on the bus to an aged woman is communism. Sending money to the March of Dimes is communism. If the human race did not practice communism, it would not have survived.
A fisherman sits on a dock fishing while a ten-year-old boy watches. After two hours the man turns to the boy and asks, “Do you ever fish?”
“No,” the boy replies.
“I don’t have the time.”
For me, pursuing the Presidency is like watching a fisherman: mostly you sit, daydream, gaze upon a lake, without even the responsibility of holding a fishing pole.
The largest mass shooting in American history occurred yesterday. A former security guard named Omar Mateen shot 102 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Forty-nine died. No one I spoke to today mentioned it. Everyone has “terrorism fatigue.” There’s nothing more to say.
Walking through the West Village, however, I came upon a vigil in front of Judson Memorial Church: More than two dozen people stood on the steps singing “We Shall Overcome.” Others gathered in the street — which was blocked off — watching or singing along. I became one of those street singers.
I enjoyed intoning “We Shall Overcome,” but what exactly were we overcoming? Getting shot by angry zealots? Living in a world full of hatred? The beauty of the civil-rights movement was the clarity of its goals: to end segregation in the South and allow blacks to vote. Now the world is tied up in a complex knot that no one can even imagine untying.
The media has rallied around Pulse, and gay nightclubs in general. “These people were just going out to have a good time, and they were brutally murdered,” a blond newscaster on Fox News said. Suddenly, dancing at a gay nightclub is as American as waving the flag or joining the Boy Scouts.
“That’s what makes America great,” a Republican congressman explained on CNN, “that we accept every type of person.” The subtext was: We’re not a bunch of bigots, like the Muslims.
As money increases in value, it becomes less amusing. A nickel is funny; a stock portfolio, deeply humorless.
George W. Bush claimed to practice “compassionate conservatism.” Now Trump has invented “compassionate fascism”: He loves Mexicans; he just wants to deport them. He loves Muslims; he’ll just send them to prison camps.
Trump is ahead in the polls! Hillary Clinton was accused of perjury by the House Oversight Committee, which has pushed the Poor Little Rich Kid into the lead. I may need an exit strategy. As absurd as it sounds, this diary might one day constitute a criminal act.
(Dear reader: If you are reading this while Trump is President, please burn this magazine immediately.)
I don’t adore Hillary Clinton, but it’s hard to be irate about her receiving e-mails on her personal server instead of a government server. I never thought I’d see someone demonized for her e-mails — the most trivial of modern annoyances. What’s next? A scandal involving soda containers? “Can you believe Hillary threw her empty Coke cans in the garbage instead of the recycling bin? Clearly she’s unqualified to be President!”
Come to think of it, it’s ridiculous to think that because Hillary lied, she cannot lead our nation. Lying is one of the main duties of the Chief Executive.
I was at a meeting of the antinuclear movement in 1980 when an elderly woman stood up and announced that if Ronald Reagan were elected President, the world would end. A chill ran through the room.
Reagan was elected, and the world — as you may have noticed — still exists.
What about Trump? Is he a Mussolini-in-training? A secret liberal pretending to be a billionaire reactionary? A self-deluded narcissist with no politics at all? The potential Trump Presidency is unknowable, like God. My Presidency, however, is predictable. It will resemble this journal.
Sparrow’s Presidential Campaigns
1992 — “My Campaign Diary” [September 1992]
1996 — “Why Didn’t You Vote for Me? A Diary of My Presidential Campaign” [May 1997]
2004 — “Why I Am Not President” [January 2006]
2008 — “Buy One, Get One Free: A Journal of My Presidential Campaign” [December 2008]
2012 — “Please Don’t Vote for Me” [November 2012]
2020 — “Future Generations Will Thank Me: My Campaign (Sort of) for President” [August 2020]
Portions of this piece previously appeared in the Italian magazine E Il Topo. — Ed.