So far, the 2016 US presidential election has borne an eerie similarity to the plot of my book, The Lafayette Campaign, A Tale of Deception and Elections. Totally improbable candidates have shot to the top of the polls, and then succeeded in the Iowa caucuses. Which raises an interesting question: would you rather think that an election could be hacked, or that Americans really would vote in droves for someone like Donald Trump? If that’s too depressing a question to confront, you can escape from that disquieting reality for a few minutes by seeing how the New Hampshire primary unfolds in my book instead. Here goes.
Dick Fetters sat in his study, clicking through email and polling reports on his computer as he waited for the evening news to begin on the muted television across the room. He’d spent a ton of Barbash’s money over the past two weeks on many fronts – publicists, social media flacks, advertising – the whole gamut of influence garnering techniques. This would be a make or break week in the primary campaign, and each of his efforts had to pay off or the whole strategy would be in jeopardy. Out of the corner of his eye he saw the network logo pop up on his TV. He reached for the remote to unmute the sound.
It had been quite an active day both domestically and internationally; the opening voiceover by the POX News anchor indicated that there would be no campaign news until the end of the broadcast. Well, that was okay. For now, it was what was going on in the trenches in New Hampshire that really mattered. He turned the sound lower and left the room to top off his drink.
Had he done everything possible? The answer had better be yes, with only two days to go until the second contest of the campaign season. He stared into the freezer, forgetting for the moment what he was looking for before dropping two cubes into his glass. What if Wellhead made such a fool of himself in New Hampshire that no one would believe when he won?
Back in his study, he stared out the window into the failing light of the fenced in courtyard behind his house in Georgetown. Before his wife had moved out, everything had been impeccably neat; shrubbery trimmed regularly, outdoor furniture arranged in perfect order. A blade of grass wouldn’t have dared to show its head between the flagstones back then; now he could see withered crabgrass spidering forth everywhere.
Maybe the people who used to take care of things outside had stopped coming? What with being on the road so much over the past year he might easily have missed something from them in the mail. He swirled the scotch in his glass and took a meditative sip.
The words “New Hampshire” caught his attention. He turned to see a newscaster bundled up in a scarf and overcoat, the Greek temple portico and gold dome of the state capitol barely visible behind him as he leaned into the wind, one hand holding a microphone and the other pressing his headphone more tightly into his ear. Large flakes of snow turned from gray to bright white and then back to gray again as they blew through the brilliant circle of the camera lights. Fetters picked up the remote and turned the sound up as he sat down.
Good evening, Troy. As you can see, the weather’s pretty awful up here. And the primary race is looking pretty chaotic, too, with candidates gaining and losing ground in the polls on a daily basis.
Thanks, Jeremy. Of course, that’s not unusual this early in the season. With this many candidates still in the running, I wouldn’t be surprised if the ‘don’t knows’ still hold the biggest percentage.
That’s exactly right, Troy. I don’t think anyone’s going to try and pick a winner on this one until the last votes are counted. The big surprise so far is that Henry Yazzie, the Independent candidate, is making a respectable showing up here in this Yankee stronghold. He’s hardly in the lead, but he’s not in the back of the pack, either.
That is something. Do you suppose that new video game everyone’s been talking about has anything to do with it?
Who knows, Troy? It seems like suddenly a lot of people are using it as a proxy for their political position.
Let’s take a quick look at that game, shall we? I’m sure all of our viewers haven’t had a chance to check it out yet.
The camera cut to a shot of a split computer screen, with what looked like the same game displayed on each half.
We’ve got Donna Pinecliff, our digital media correspondent, here in the studio with us. Donna, tell us what we’re looking at here.
Sure, Troy. This is the hottest new mobile game app these days, and it’s still trending up.
Why two game shots, Donna? They look just the same to me.
I expect they do from where you’re sitting, so let’s pull the camera in for a close up of the left side of the screen.
As the image on the left enlarged, it became clear that a group of Native Americans was huddled around something. Sticking out above them was what looked like the head of a very startled cow. Suddenly, the animal was flying in an arc heading up and to the right, its limbs flailing wildly. The camera panned back just in time to see the hapless beast crash into the lookout tower of a log stockade with an American flag flying above it.
So what you see here is the “Angry Indians” game mode. Let’s zoom in on the other side of the screen now.
The cameraman did as requested, and now viewers saw a group of blue-uniformed men, above which rose the head of an extremely unhappy bison. This time, when the catapult was sprung, it was the largest tent in a circle of tepees that was flattened.
And that, of course, is the Angry Cavalry game mode.
Looks like fun. Have you tried it yet?
I have – and I can tell you, it’s really addictive. I guess it’s not surprising that it’s become sort of a sign of political allegiance to buy and play the game in one mode or another. Henry Yazzie couldn’t hope for anything better than this to come along, and the Tea partyers seem just as happy to embrace the Cavalry version.
The news anchor chuckled.
Well, I guess you never know what’s going to happen out on the campaign trail, do you? Thanks for the update, both of you, and hey, Jeremy! Stay warm up there!
Fetters clicked off the TV, grudgingly satisfied. So far, so good.
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