Natasha wrinkled her nose at the computer.  It was another e-mail from that annoying Eurobrat chick, inviting her to yet another lame party.

There would be many selfie-worthy parties around town this weekend, but this wouldn’t be one of them.  It would be an event for a good cause and it would be full of the depressing people who cared about good causes.  Beers For Prairie Dogs!  the e-mail proudly proclaimed.  Natasha had seen enough.

She was about to delete the e-mail, when something caught her eye.  Could it be?  Was one of the Kardashian sisters really going to be calling into the event live?  And who knew she cared so much about prairie dogs?

***

Her plan was to hang out in the corner of the room, close enough to hear that sultry Kardashian voice, but far enough not to have to interact with any of the political dorks.  It might have worked–except that, unfortunately, Eurobrat was there.  She spotted Natasha’s hiding place and came running over.

“Oh, I’m so glad you could make it!”  Eurobrat gushed.  “This is such an important night for us.  Have you signed our petition?”

“Yes,” Natasha lied.

“Great!  Wow, it feels like I haven’t seen you in forever!”

“No, you haven’t,”  Natasha mumbled.

“Well, you should join me tomorrow.  I’m going to go door-to-door canvassing for Representative Funkhousen.  It’s going to be so much fun!”

Natasha had no idea how to respond to such a pathetic statement, so she remained silent.  During the awkward moments that followed, she had plenty of time to examine the sweater which Eurobrat was wearing.  It had a giant embroidered owl on it.  Her eyes then wandered to a table with a bowl of chips, which the young activists were ravenously attacking.  At the far side of the room, people were waving their arms and excitedly yelling out answers to trivia questions.  Zoning Laws Quiz, the sign above them read.

A few of Eurobrat’s friends had gathered around them.  They were all equally bright-eyed and enthusiastic.  One of them, a pony-tailed guy who had been entertaining everyone with tales of his tree-climbing protests, gave Natasha a careful once-over.

“Hey, how’s it going?  Have you seen the latest poll results?”  he asked her.

“Oh, I don’t keep up with that stuff.”  She shrugged.  “I hate all politicians, anyway.”

He shook his head.  “This isn’t about you liking them.  It’s bigger than you or me.  One wrong choice in the election, and the country could end up moving backwards.  We could go to a very dark place.”

She stared at him with interest.  She didn’t believe anything scary would actually happen to the country.  And what difference did it make who was President?  She never noticed any.  This guy sounded like he was into conspiracy theories.  But if he cut off that long hair, he could be pretty attractive.

She smiled at him.  “Wanna go out for drinks after this?”

He smiled back.  “No, but I’ll be at a rally for the new corporate tax Sunday.  I would love to see you there.  You could help raise money for our income equality organization?”

Her face fell.  She hated doing sales and asking strangers for money.  What was it with these people?

“Is this the only thing you ever do for a hobby?”  Her voice was edged with irritation.

“Well, yeah.”  He still sounded unnaturally cheery.  “Why are you here?  Don’t you want to work for the revolution?”

The revolution?  What did that even mean?  She now felt embarrassed that she briefly considered going out with this guy.

“I’m a little concerned that you can’t give me a clear answer.  Are you sure you’re truly committed?”  His cheerfulness was melting away.

“Yeah.”  Her eyes darted back and forth.  When was the Kardashian call going to happen?

“She’s totally committed!”  Eurobrat defensively put an arm around her friend.  “I’ve known her for years and she’s a fabulous person.”

Their conversation was disrupted by a loud voice.

A particularly skinny activist had climbed up on one of the tables.  “Welcome to all my fellow warriors!  Thank you all for being here for this world-changing event.”

Eurobrat and her friends cheered and applauded.

“As some of you may know, a certain Kardashian sister is a supporter of our movement…”

There were scattered boos around the room.

“We had hoped to convince her to call in tonight, but her schedule is a bit crazy.  But I’ve got exciting news.  She did agree to post a picture of a prairie dog on her Instagram.  Please share the picture on your social media, tell your friends to do it too…”

A wave of cold rage washed over Natasha.  So these losers had lied about a celebrity phone call, just to lure people here.  She had wasted her time with a bunch of nutjobs.  Random drunken clubbing would’ve been better.

“Personally, I’m glad that this event will not be tainted by an association with a reality TV star,” Eurobrat sniffed.  “Wanna go take a look at the prairie dog shirts, Natasha?  They’re so cute!”

“A prairie dog T-shirt?”  Natasha asked through gritted teeth.  “What makes you think I would be caught dead wearing such a thing?”

“Um…you seem upset,”  Eurobrat said.  “Can I hold some space for you so that you can work through your feelings?”

“Yes, I would love to tell you exactly how I feel!”  Natasha screamed.  “I can’t believe I even came to this dumb party!  All I wanted was a chance to talk to the Kardashians…”

Eurobrat stepped back.  “But…what about helping us?”

“You’re such fucking idiots!  You really think your party’s going to change what the government does?  Nobody cares.  And I don’t give a fuck, either.”

She turned on her heel, leaving everyone with their jaws dropped, and stalked out.

“I told you you should be more careful about those invitations you send out, Eurobrat,” she heard someone behind her say.

Once she was out on the street, she could breathe more easily.  She was, indeed, working through her feelings.  It still wasn’t too late to go somewhere else.  The next party she would go to would have people drinking cocktails, wearing the latest fashions–you know, doing the things that really mattered.

In my fantasy, I’m climbing the barricades.  I’m not sure why I’m climbing the barricades. It’s been a long time since I’ve believed in anything strongly enough to do that sort of thing.

Maybe I’m climbing the barricades because I got tired of playing with my phone.

I’m waving a flag, but what flag could I possibly be waving?  The flag of doing my best to pay my bills?  The flag of 9 to 5 employment?

I’m surrounded on all sides by real fighters–warriors truly engaged in the battle.  Unlike me, they’re not here to march down the alley in slow motion, trying hard to be Beyonce in her Lemonade video.  They actually want to change things.  They’re not here looking for a shiver of excitement, for a reminder that life doesn’t have to be safe and boring.

Me?  I think the truth is I want to belong somewhere.

But speaking of the excitement, where is it?  Where is the smoke?  Where are the tear gas cannisters?  I don’t see any bombs or bricks getting thrown.

For that matter, I don’t see anyone to fight.  The street I’m wandering down is suddenly very empty.  No creepy authorities dressed in black.  I look around, feeling lost.  Nobody to get angry at, to shout at.  And why should there be?

It turns out, the person I’m protesting is myself.

I turn my laptop on in the morning already knowing that the battle continued raging even while I was asleep.  Indeed, shots were fired in the middle of the night.

“You have to ask yourself, are you here for the revolution?  Are you a revolutionary or what?”

I’m definitely a “what.”  And the correct category is…?

“Are you a patriot?  Are you fighting for liberty?  We are continuing our fight against the useless bureaucrats in D.C.”

“How can any liberal support Hillary?”

“How can any conservative support Kasich?”

“Bernie will smash the banks…”

“Trump will keep those illegals out…”

Remember when the Internet used to be all about posting pictures of babies, lunches and kittens?  Believe it or not, I really miss that time.

“You people are privileged and don’t know what it’s like to struggle…”

Hey, everyone!  Here’s a video of Chirpy!

“You people have never had a real job or paid taxes–you don’t what it’s like out there in the adult world…”

“Old and square…”

“Young and dumb…”

Chirpy is a parakeet.  He likes to play the synth…

“Racist…”

“Politically correct sheeple…”

“Fascist…”

“Communist…”

Watch him play the Game of Thrones theme!

“You Nazis should get sent to camps…”

He even whistles along!

“You SJWs should get shot into a ditch…”

And isn’t it hilarious how the cat is watching him from below?

Right?

Guys?

“Let’s burn everything down!”

“Let’s burn everything down!”

It’s not too late.  We don’t have to burn everything down.

 

Somewhere, in the darkest of night, Jeb and Hillary are curled up in a ball, having a panic attack.  If they were not avowed political adversaries, they would be hugging each other to ease the trauma.  I want to find out where they are.  I want to find out where they are, so I can curl up in the fetal position next to them, because I’m just as anxious about the primaries.

This is not going to be a good election year for moderates like me.  I can already tell.  This is not the year of the negotiating, calculating political animal.  I thought America during the early Obama years was not a place for middle of the road compromise, but now it’s even less so.

In a way, we’ve gotten what we deserve.  I remember joking about this with my family a couple of years back.  “Oh, 2016 is going to be so boring!  Bush vs. Clinton!  Yawn!”  Well, we wished for interesting and we certainly got it, did we ever.  We didn’t want another Bush, so instead we get the complete nutjob Trump.  We didn’t want Hillary again, so instead we get a democratic socialist calling for a revolution.

Revolution.  Funny word, that.  It’s a very exciting word to shout at rallies–I can say that from experience.  But when there’s a risk of it actually happening, my resolve starts to wane.  I do realize that Bernie is promising a political revolution, not a literal one with guillotines.  But the truth is, my family and I have built a good life for ourselves here in the States, and I’d rather avoid anything that would disrupt that too much or turn our lives upside down.

So besides the fact that I’ve turned out to be a bit of a fraud as far as my political activism goes, what are my options now?  Bernie’s too much for me, but people don’t seem to like Hillary.  Is Bloomberg really going to be a candidate?  Can we still somehow force Joe Biden to run?

What will most likely happen is quite simple.  If we end up with a Bernie vs. Trump match-up, the alternative of Trump in the White House will be unthinkable for me.  So I’ll hold my nose and vote for Bernie–and hope that someday, somewhere in the course of the election zodiac cycle, the Year of the Moderate will be back.