I figured out what the Florida primary reminds me of: a hurricane.
Think about it: When a hurricane forms, at first you don’t pay much attention, because it’s far away and you don’t think it’s going to affect you. But then, as it comes closer and excitable local TV weather people start tracking it on radar, you become increasingly nervous. Finally you go to Publix and join the hordes of alarmed Floridians buying vital emergency supplies such as canned meat to replace the unused canned meat you bought during the previous hurricane.
Likewise, last year, when candidates started campaigning for the Iowa caucuses, you didn’t pay attention, because (a) Iowa is a distant place that you are always confusing with other flat soybean-infested states such as Kansas, and (b) nobody understands how the Iowa caucuses work anyway. Apparently even the Iowans don’t really understand them; they’re still trying to figure out who won this time around, with the current frontrunner being Gerald Ford.
But then, after Iowa, the candidates moved to New Hampshire, which is a little closer to Florida. Then they moved to South Carolina, and suddenly the horrible truth hit you: They’re coming HERE.
This is where my hurricane analogy breaks down. Because when we know a hurricane is coming, we wisely prepare for it. But when a major political campaign is coming — even when we have plenty of warning — we sit around like morons and let it slam directly into us.
How can you protect yourself from a presidential primary? I’ll tell you. As soon as you know that a campaign is going to hit Florida, you should go to Home Depot and buy sheets of plywood three-quarters of an inch thick. You should take these home, cut them to size, and then, using a hammer and nails, fasten them firmly to every TV screen in your house. You should also fill your bathtub with water, add about a cup of bleach, and drop in all your radios.
These simple steps will protect you and your family from the toxic spew of political attack ads that run nonstop on all media outlets, so that no matter what channel you change to, you hear sneering announcers telling you one appalling thing after:
“... can we really trust Mitt Romney, a Massachusetts liberal who ...”
“... bloat-faced beltway insider Newt Gingrich drank champagne while thousands of Florida homeowners lost their ...”
“... a Massachusetts socialist who ...”
“... raked in millions from lobbyists while Florida homeowners were selling their kidneys to pay for ...”
“... apparently wears some kind of secret cult underwear ...”
“... CLAIMS he never performed a human sacrifice on behalf of Fannie Mae, but can we really ...”
“... a Massachusetts communist who fought for Fidel and ...”
“... CLAIMS he never bludgeoned any of his wives to death with a hatchet, but can we really ...”
And so on. I think you’ll agree that the destruction of your household electronics is a small price to pay for reducing your family’s exposure to these ads. Another option is to call Florida Power & Light and ask them to send out a crew to cut off the power to your house.
The main thing is, you need to have a plan, because it’s only a matter of time before we get nailed again. Finally, we should remember that even though this primary campaign is leaving Florida, millions of innocent Americans still lie directly in its path. We should do what we can to help them. I for one am willing to donate a large quantity of canned meat.
• Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald. Write to him c/o The Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza, Miami FL 33132.