A collage of an Elephant painted like the American flag in front of the White House and the Kremlin

That’s What She Said

Can We Please Talk About the Corrupt Elephants in the Room

Harris, Warren, Gillibrand—the prospect of anyone else in the White House is enough to make a voting gal giddy. But swooning for change won’t fix our broken democracy.

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As we get excited by the growing crop of Democratic contenders announcing their bid for the 2020 presidential election, there’s just a few minor details from 2016 that we still need to discuss—like how one side cheated with the aid of a foreign power and rather than being penalized for it, they are rewarded with the Oval Office and carte blanche to do it again. Can we dive into another presidential election without acknowledging that the last one was illegitimate and that Hillary Clinton should be the one addressing Congress this week? We need to talk about the Russian bear in the room.

I cannot be the only one who feels like they just caught their significant other cheating, only to receive a trip to Paris in return. Don’t get me wrong, I will take the trip to Paris. It’s not Paris’s fault you cheated. I will eat the fuck out of croissants and drink all the first growth Bordeaux and go HAM campaigning for Kamala Harris, or Kirsten Gillibrand, or Elizabeth Warren. But don’t we need to talk about a few things first, such as your cheating and how you’re going to assure me you’re not going to do it again?

As we allow ourselves to fall in love again, we cannot help but worry about everything that went wrong in our last relationship happening in this one. Who is our partner texting in the middle of the night, and are they calling us a “corporate shill whore” or a “whore corporate shill”? Will I appear to “lack enthusiasm” during sex only to be chastised as “shrill” when I loudly orgasm? And just what will my vagina do when left to its own devices? Vote?

And as we figure out which candidate we’re swiping right on, we also can’t help but think of the one who got away. Or rather, the one who was taken away. Like Love Story or the Fault in Our Stars, our beloved was taken from us by a cancer, and not only is it not in remission, the doctors all seem to be standing around waiting for a seventh and eighth opinion before they’ll even call it cancer or start treating it.

The cancer I’m referring to of course is the Trump-Pence campaign, their subsequent administration, Russia, and every single Republican who is complicit, which is pretty much all of them as far as anyone can tell. To beat the cancer metaphor like Hillary beat Trump in the popular vote, the body of the Republican Party seems to be very low on white blood cells, which is odd because if there’s one thing they’re into, it’s anything white. And our elected officials, those who swear to uphold the Constitution, seem to be very slow to do anything concrete about it. While they wait for the ninth, tenth, and eleventh opinion, we are being ravaged. They seem to think they can just turn it all around in 2020 with a juice cleanse. And even if that proves to be true, even if the Republicans decide they got away with cheating once, best not push their luck and do it again, what irreparable harm will have been done? How can we be sure they will never do it again? Are we just a Neil Simon joke now, whispering words like “cancer” and “treason” for fear if we say them out loud they’ll come back?

Can we please just start saying out loud, as reasonable people, that the 2016 election was not legitimate? We have known since the summer of 2016 that Russia was interfering in our election. We are watching indictments rain down on members of the Trump-Pence campaign like pee from a prostitute on a Kompromat video. We already know that Russian bots created an influencer campaign to sow distrust in Hillary Clinton while boosting her challengers, fomenting hate, misogyny and the most bizarre of conspiracy theories. And we know that they were aided by data provided by Cambridge Analytica, a firm employed by the Trump campaign, founded by Breitbart super villain Robert Mercer, and that shared said data with companies and executives linked to Russian intelligence. But we also know that Russia hacked election-related computer systems in at least 21 states, and that some publications have that number as high as 39. We are told they did not change voter tallies, but can we even be sure? And even if they didn’t, they won’t say for sure which states had voter information actually removed, making it easier to kick Democrats off the voter rolls in states where the race was tight and voting laws strict.

And every day there is a new sickening revelation. What about the meeting with Putin without a U.S. note taker present? What about the sanctions lifted against Russian oligarch and Putin bud Oleg Deripaska? How about the fact that Trump campaign foreign policy advisor, Carter Page has been the subject of a secret intelligence surveillance warrant since 2014? Like the Fifty Shades of Grey sequels, we can’t even keep up with them anymore and we’re done watching this creepy, abusive relationship play out.

America, we’ve found the condoms in his pocket, the lipstick on his collar, and the sex tape on his hard drive, and still we’re cool saying, “Well, we don’t know exactly what happened so it’s okay if he decides to spend our savings on a timeshare, re-mortgage our house to buy a Tesla, lets his mother move in and gives us chlamydia, from Russia with love.” He’s making decisions that will fuck us for the rest of our lives and still we’re saying, “Maybe he just had to work late. And you know, I really was a bad wife who failed to excite my spouse’s base and it does sound like I’m yelling whenever I’m trying to explain something to an electorate who is so dumb they think I can somehow run a child sex ring out of a pizza parlor with a Secret Service detail on me 24 hours a day. Sure I haven’t been allowed to drive a car on my own since Full House was in the Top Ten, but I found a way to traffick in human beings without them catching on.”

Did we let La La Land take home the Best Picture Oscar just because someone screwed up and called their name first? Do we allow athletes who test positive for drugs to keep the medal? It’s not enough to throw around words like “impeachment” or “25th Amendment.” Not only will both of these never happen thanks to the blind complicity of the Republican Party, but they just give us President Pence, whom the people also didn’t elect. And it ignores the grave crime done to our allegedly free and fair elections. Since when do we let cheaters win? Maybe when the United Nations is done sorting out Venezuela they can give us a hand here.

One argument I hear over and over is that there’s no Constitutional remedy. Wait, WHAT!? We’re going to allow a political party to collude with a foreign government to decide who gets to be president, thus making him their puppet who then supports their interests for four years (at least) because of a clerical error? Because the guys who couldn’t foresee women voting or slaves being people or false teeth not being fucking wooden, couldn’t imagine this kerfuffle happening? There’s no Constitutional remedy for aliens landing in the middle of Yankee Stadium during a play off game either and yet I imagine, were it to happen, our GODDAMN ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES WOULD FUCKING HANDLE IT! They wouldn’t just say, “Well, maybe we’ll beat the aliens in the next election.” Who the hell COULD have seen this coming!? (Besides Hillary Clinton, who warned us, but people didn’t like the font she used or something.) I grew up in a time when the Republican party thought Russians were the bad guys. In grade school, I got asked who the most powerful man in the world was and I said Yuri Andropov because I thought he could kill us and the other kids called me a communist for the rest of the semester because I didn’t say Reagan. So maybe we should cut the Constitution some slack for not intuiting this treasonous quagmire.

No, we really need to talk about the Russian bear in the room. In yet another tragic irony, which seems to be our country’s only export these days, the actual phrase is “the elephant in the room.” The elephant, of course, has also been the symbol of the Republican party for some reason I don’t care to google. But the elephant in the saying, like the GOP itself, has been replaced by Russia. And there’s no indication it’s coming back.

And it’s not enough to talk about it; we need to start asking, “What is the remedy?” Because doing nothing is not good enough. We are allowing a terminal illness to attack our Democracy and doing nothing is going to kill us, if not in two years, then in six, or ten. Doing nothing tells anyone who wants to cheat in the future that they are free to do so; we can be bought off easily with a Kobe Bryant “I’m Sorry” ring. It tells an already disenfranchised electorate that their votes only matter sometimes, and when they don’t no one cares enough to do anything about it. And ultimately that will affect 2020 when voters, rather than take a chance that this new candidate is “the one,” decide to sit out this dance because all men cheat and we’re just going to get hurt again.

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