President of the end of the world

I’m running through a little thought experiment in my head. I always try to do thought experiments, but I always wind up getting stuck on the definition of a thought experiment. I know that Einstein could sit there in his study and just think up crazy scenarios in his brain, and they’d actually run and he’d gain serious wisdom and insight out of them. Me, I can’t really keep things in my head for too long, like images or numbers. It’s always much easier if I have some paper, a pen, something to write everything down and to look at.

But I was thinking about an experiment, let’s call it a situation, let’s say we discover that a gigantic asteroid is on a collision course with the earth, and that it’s scheduled to hit twenty years from now. There’s nothing we can do. We’re just completely outmatched. It’s going to be a guaranteed collision, guaranteed mass extinction, nothing left.

So let’s say that this information goes public. My question is, what would happen with presidential politics? Twenty years is long enough for a number of scenarios. We could have two two-term presidents, four one-term presidents. What would be their pitch to the American public? How do you get elected President of the end of the world?

I’m sure that we’d find some way to divide ourselves into teams of two. And you just know that there would be people willing to run. You might even think that there would be even more than just your usual band of egomaniacs and snake oil salesman, because an issue like the end of the world has so much divisive potential.

Just take the issue. Will the world end in twenty years? All of the scientists are saying yes. They’re the ones that alerted us in the first place. It’s crazy to think that everybody would listen to the scientists. Can you imagine if both parties of a presidential race came out on a serious subject and agreed? But no, they’re always too scared that if they speak the truth, the other one will point his or her finger and call it all nonsense.

That was a little confusing. I just think that we’re so divided today, that if something huge like World War II came around, nothing would get done, because both parties would be too scared to make a move, to disrupt the status quo. Look at the big issues of the day. We’re in severe need of some modern gun control laws. We have global warming to deal with, which is obviously a real problem. But what are both parties talking about? They’re talking about nothing. Because the first person who goes out against what’s normal, the other guy will be able to point his finger and call the other side un-American.

OK, I’m kind of veering off course into an unexpected political rant here, but that’s OK, I’m just going to go with it and hope it all ties in together at the end. You’d be surprised at how often that works, honestly. Anyway, the asteroid is coming. Finally, under serious pressure from the scientific community to at least acknowledge the fact that we’re all about to get blown up, one of the presidential contenders gets up on stage and offers a plan of how we’re going to spend our last two decades. Let’s try and see if we can’t abolish war, poverty. Let’s see if we can’t feed everybody, tend to all of the sick. Let’s make these last twenty years twenty of the best years in human history.

And the other guy would point his finger and laugh. He’d say, “Listen to this clown. We’re not going to die. We’re not going to get hit by that asteroid. We’re Americans. We’re the greatest country in the world. Nothing can stop the human spirit. Nothing can stop us. We just have to believe. We just need faith.”

And that would be it. And so the original guy would come back and say, “You know what, I was just kidding. I don’t believe we’re going to get hit either. Just elect me President. I really want to be President.”

And that would be it. President of the end of the world. I really got off track here. I had originally wanted to make a funny story about two guys campaigning a really crazy campaign to be president during the earth’s final days. But then I realized that all of those threatening stuff and political nonsense sounded a little too true to be made up. And then I started just writing amateur political commentary. And now here is this last paragraph, I’m really just writing for the sake of typing words, giving a terrible explanation as to how and why we’ve wound up at this sentence. And I think I’ve already done this exact ending to a rambling blog post like maybe two or three times already. But I’m not even going to try to find which ones I’m talking about, because there are so many, and that would take forever.

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