THR Web Features   /   January 27, 2016

Things to Do Instead of Watching the Debate Tomorrow

B.D. McClay

Detail from John William Waterhouse’s Diogenes (1882). Wikimedia Commons.

It's one of those facts that you learn when you're young and that stick with you in some strange, character-forming way: Ancient Athenians would round up reluctant voters with a rope dipped in red paint.  What a clever way to force citizens to exercise their civic duty and, at the same time, shame them for their reluctance to do so! Citizenship is good! I would be an involved citizen (surely) when I reached my majority (I would not).

Citizenship is good, but the relationship between citizenship and, say, the theater of our seemingly endless pre-primary debates is probably a little dubious. When I asked a friend if she wanted to watch Monday’s town hall with me, she shot me down on the grounds she’d given up drinking. This was a good argument and I have taken some instruction from it.

So skip the debate! Even Donald Trump is doing it. And in that spirit, here are some things you can do instead of watching the Republican debate tomorrow:

Play a game in which you round up reluctant Athenian voters. I don’t know why this game exists, but, let me tell you, the controls are really frustrating and bad. Anyway—it’s an option.

To continue the Athens theme, read The Knights. This is a fun and delightful comedy by Aristophanes about a people wooed by a destructive demagogue. It’s relaxing to read literature about problems that are entirely in the past.

Learn a language. These debates last what? Five hours? A day? That’s surely enough time to get down the basics of German pronouns or something. Or hey, Attic Greek! People spoke that thousands of years ago, so hard could it be? πάθει μάθος, friends.

Fingerpainting. Jackson Pollock was born on January 28. Remember him.

Watch that movie, the bleak Scandinavian thing that you’ve been meaning to watch but not really because you already think about death enough and don't need to be reminded of it at this particular time and also your glasses are bad and the subtitles are hard to read. You know the one.

Deep clean your fridge. This is a good way to spend a lot of time and gain some crucial self-knowledge.

Drink anyway. I probably will.