This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
The US presidential election cycle is a guilty pleasure of mine. Some people have the Olympics: I have this. Every four years or so the siren call of primary bluster, dirty tricks, shameless attacks and risible debates calls me back. I put Politico back on my RSS feed; I start frequenting corners of the Internet I can’t be bothered with under other circumstances to get that sweet politics gossip going. It’s kind of like having a sexual fetish which, whilst entirely legal and harmless when practised between consenting adults, is still not really socially acceptable to air in public, and which your enthusiasm for comes in fits and starts. When it’s dormant, all’s well, but when it wakes up your habits change, your daily routine shifts, and the craving is unquenchable.
Hunter S. Thompson summed this craving up when he described himself as a politics junkie. Politics would be a regular feature of his writing, and he would comment on enough presidential elections with enough enthusiastic venom that people have said it’s a shame he didn’t live to see this current appalling horror show of a race. Then again, Thompson already gave us his definitive take on a presidential race some 44 years ago in the form of the articles compiled in Fear and Loathing On the Campaign Trail ’72, next to which his subsequent coverage of presidential campaigns was somewhat more modest in scale.