A Vote For Harvey Wallbanger Is a Vote For Satan
As the current election cycle in all its exquisite perversity has thus far illustrated, disillusionment with the political process can manifest itself in unexpected ways, ranging from the bizarre (large swaths of people supporting an abrasive, rug-headed rutabaga’s bid for the GOP nomination) to the downright terrifying (the very real prospect of said Charmin-coiffed mangelwurzel being elected President).
Throughout our nation’s history, people have vented their political frustrations through protests, rioting, boycotting elections altogether and, in recent years, taking it out on everyone you know on social media. (I get it, Aunt Betty. Hillary Clinton is a robot Nazi lizard sent from the future to suck out the soul of every living being. Now enough already with the Benghazi memes. Isn’t there a Planned Parenthood Twitter account you can troll?)
Back before social media
ruined humanity saved us all, those who didn’t want to riot or boycott engaged in the time-honored tradition of casting a vote for someone whose name does not even appear on the official ballot. And while no write-in candidate has ever been a serious factor in a presidential election, that doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining on a sociological level.
For instance, in 1972, faced with choosing between incumbent president and child-eating hobgoblin Richard Nixon and the far-too-much-sense-making Democratic challenger George McGovern, over 9,000 voters put pen to ballot representing for an array of alternate chief executives, including Jerry Garcia, Mickey Mantle and famed TV canine Lassie.
But none of those upstanding mammals stood a chance in the nihilistic horse race of the 1972 write-in derby. In fact, it’s apparent that the burden of choosing the leader of the free world drove many Americans to drink. How do we know this? Because the leading write-in vote-getter turned out to be the ultimate outsider—outside the realm of living, breathing creatures. The most common choice of the people who chose not to have a choice was one Harvey Wallbanger.
For those not currently living in 1972, Harvey Wallbanger is not a person. It is a cocktail made with vodka, orange juice and Galliano (the canary-colored stuff in the tall skinny bottle that sits behind every bar but sees about as much action as Neil Patrick Harris at the Miss America Pageant). The Wallbanger was invented in the 1960s by a booze importer desperate to unload a surplus of this weird vanilla liqueur no one wanted. He hid it where no one would notice: in a screwdriver. An early ad campaign by the McKesson Imports Company targeted young surf enthusiasts with the tagline “Harvey Wallbanger is the name. And I can be made.” It made no sense, but surfers were either too stoned to notice or just stoned enough to really get it, man. And for a hot minute, in the hot summer of ‘72, the drink was a cooling balm to the sizzle of political intrigue and flaring tempers.
Harvey Wallbanger’s appeal to the joint-toking, “Take It Easy”-listening, not-fond-of-war-and/or-showering demographic was undeniable, but it proved no match for Tricky Dick. Still, if you think getting trounced in ‘72 put an end to Harvey’s political aspirations, you aren’t thinking like a brand marketing team.
In an effort to feed off the teat of the slow-motion train wreck that is the U.S. electoral process, the folks at Galliano are attempting to revive their lost libation by launching the “Vote 4 Wallbanger” campaign. You might point out that a quixotic run for the White House by a strange facsimile of a person is ridiculous, but Mitt Romney would beg to differ. Still, we have a feeling that Wallbanger’s 2016 bid, which promises to “Make America Chill Again,” is a stone cold loser. For evidence, look no further than this...
In the interest of full disclosure, I live in LA, where you accumulate out of work actor friends like Dick Cheney’s basement accumulates the skulls of young children. Two of these actor friends—Dave and Aidan—have parts in the above video. Hey, they needed the work, they took it and their rent got paid. That part I like.
However, the fact that my classically trained thespian friends had to resort to doing a crappy Harvey Wallbanger revival spot is a reminder that advertising is, as the late Bill Hicks put it, “the ruiner of all things good,” including Dave and Aidan’s poor souls.
The Harvey Wallbanger is a singularly obnoxious drink. It is to cocktail culture what the selfie is to actual culture—a vapid amusement that would have ceased being a thing a long time ago if we as a society weren’t so willing to celebrate the banal at the expense of the consequential.
Rather than face the awful reality of, say, Donald Trump and the dark yearnings that have suckled his toxic candidacy, it seems most people would rather stare at themselves making duck faces into their smartphones over and over and over again. This is the same #vileshallowness and #blitheapathy that is the lifeblood of crap like the “Make America Chill Again” campaign, with its breezy embrace of the DGAF ethos at a time when such apathy could get us all killed, or at the very least, into a shooting war with whomever President Cheeto decides has slighted him this week.
So a fascist demagogue with a Snapchat-short fuse has a legit shot at commanding the nuclear codes. What? Me? Worry? Galliano certainly isn’t sweating it. Nor is the anthropomorphic cocktail they’re hawking.
The “Vote 4 Wallbanger” site celebrates the candidate’s belief that “it’s every American’s right not to be bummed out, and that’s something he will fight for once he is the commander in chief. To wake up in Harvey’s America is to wake up… and then hit the snooze button and go back to sleep for a few more hours. That’s the America Harvey believes in.”
That blasé attitude worked to Nixon’s advantage in ‘72. And I’m sure Trump is counting on there being enough slumbering slugs out there who’ll keep hitting the snooze button until they wake up one day to find their neighbors being rounded up and tossed over a giant wall.
Look, I know some of you are probably thinking, “Lighten up man. It’s just a stupid internet ad campaign for a cheesy cocktail.” You’re right. And Henry Kissinger was just an accounting major who won a Nobel peace prize and said cute stuff like, “Power is the great aphrodisiac,” and, “The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer.”
So I’ll be good and goddamned if I vote for Harvey Wallbanger. Because if we’re going to elect a cocktail to the presidency, we should at least make sure it’s a good one. Naturally, I’ve been over and over this, and I think I have a candidate. Old-Fashioned is too stuffy. Martini is in bed with Wall Street. Manhattan practically screams top one percent. No one takes Pina Colada seriously. Zombie just scares people.
To me, there’s only one choice: Rusty Got-damn Nail. Now there’s a cocktail that doesn’t suffer fools. One that makes you take stock of yourself and reminds us that greatness doesn’t come without sacrifice. Because let’s face it: Beyond a sense of civic duty, there’s really no reason to ever go near Drambuie.
“But wait!” I hear you screaming, “Rusty Nail wasn’t born in the good ole U.S. of A.!” In response, I’ll remind you that that little technicality didn’t stop Barack Hussein Hitler Obama. (Much to the chagrin of my Aunt Betty and her friend the mangelwurzel).
We’ve got a few months to go here, people. There’s still time for the Dump Wallbanger movement to take hold. The guy’s done enough damage. Hell, if I had my way, we’d just toss Rusty and Harvey into Thunderdome and stream the whole thing on pay-per-view for $100 a pop. Debt problem solved. Because, no matter what happens, it’s looking like we’re all going to have a hangover on Nov. 2. We may as well have a little fun along the way.
Dan Dunn plans to vote for Lassie again. Check out his latest book, American Wino: A Tale of Reds, Whites and One Man’s Blues. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram