Welcome, everyone to the longest-running play in U.S. history: “Voting for the Lesser Evil.” The play’s strength, as you well know, is its easy-to-memorize script, combined with its superb ability to change the essential characters—all while keeping the same dialogue!
Our set design also remains largely the same, although recently we’ve had to highlight red and blue colors and build a swing to denote the characterizations of “states.”
Throughout the decades, our show has been labeled a melodrama, a tragicomedy, and even science fiction. The beauty of ““Voting for the Lesser Evil” is that it’s all above the above! Some people have lobbied for the play being renamed “The Greatest Show on Earth.” It does remind one of a circus, doesn’t it?
Others have made a strong case for “Hocus Pocus” or “The Big Con.” But since “Voting for the Lesser Evil” is so ingrained in the public discourse, it’s best to stick with that.
As with prior productions, our largest audience remains those who vote for the Democratic Party, which is unsurprising since much of the juiciest lines were written by Democrats, particularly the “Reluctant Democrats,” whose numbers are legion. Notable quotable include, “I’m only being realistic,” and “I’m holding my nose but what else can I do?” and the all-time favorite, “I’m not really voting FOR [insert corporate-backed lesser evil Democratic candidate], I’m really voting AGAINST [insert corporate-backed more evil Republican candidate].
A powerful, recurring character, usually depicted as “usually radical,” is the one with the longest monologue, the person who waxes long about their history of fighting for social justice but is just “so angry and sad ”that they’re being “forced” yet again to go kicking and screaming into voting for the lesser evil [insert current election year] because: “Goddamn it, there really isn’t a choice, and we just have to do this because this is the most important election ever!”
Of course, that last line has also been repeated from years past. Nevertheless, it’s hard to beat its raw and compelling power, especially if the actor delivers the line by combining conviction with despair. When done right, it will even make sense.
Theatre critics everywhere have remarked how they’ve either laughed or cried or both at the play’s climax, when voters discover that none of their reasons for voting the way they “have to” are actually available at the ballot box. That there isn’t a way to add an asterisk with your vote shouldn’t how truly remorseful you are. Nor is the ability to write-in “Not so-and-so!” No, they can only vote yes FOR [insert corporate-backed lesser evil Democratic candidate]. That’s what how history will record their vote.
And then there’s the final fade-out moment, where both the winning and losing candidates beam and thank their voters for supporting “The Greatest Democracy on Earth!” confident that no matter how you slice and dice it, corporate, militaristic evil, be it lesser or not, will continue its reign as the longest-running play in U.S. history.
David Perez is a writer, journalist, activist, radio host, and actor, born in the South Bronx in New York City and currently living in Taos, New Mexico.