Joe’s Journal

Week 32 – A political travesty

Ramblings from an old scribbler
Wed, 10/21/2020 - 7:00am

Thank the Almighty. It won’t be much longer until it’s over. In a week or so, the calendar turns to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. It will be Election Day.

By then, many millions will have voted in person and by mail. Do you wonder how long it will take for us to learn the winner?

You don’t have to be a genius to figure out this is a special election.

Sometimes, in the dark of night, it seems to resemble Christmas. Imagine this: the tree is up and decorated. Under its lowest branches is a brightly colored present with your name on it. Will it be the item you hoped for, asked for, wished for with all you might? Or will you tear off the fancy ribbon, destroy the bright paper, and find a lump of coal?

No one knows for sure. If you are interested in speculation, you can find all you want in the newspapers (yes, they still exist, thankfully) and on TV. The internet is full of it, too.

The truth is, no one knows. Despite all the magical science involving algorithms and other statistical formulae, the polls are just an educated guess. No one, myself included, knows who will win.

We can agree it has been a brutal political season. Not the worst, as most historians agree that honor belongs to the 1860 campaign that elected President Abraham Lincoln and triggered the Civil War. But the 2020 edition will be remembered as a bruising, bare-knuckle battle.

Leaving the presidential candidates aside, here in the Great State of Maine, we have two strong, civic-minded women seeking to represent us in the U.S Senate.

Susan Collins, the Republican, has been around for years and, by most accounts, done a pretty good job bringing jobs and federal dollars to the folks back home.

Sara Gideon, a Democrat, is her main challenger. She has worked her way through the chairs to become the state’s most powerful elected legislator – the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.

Thus, we have a choice between two strong, successful women. It is a contest that should be decided over policy questions. Should we support this program or oppose that one? That should be the choice.

Instead, we have watched the airwaves bombard both women with mud. Not the good Maine coastal mud that, with a bit of work, will yield clams. No, this was the nasty mud you might find downstream from a failed sewage treatment plant. Yuck.

Instead, the TV commercials portray these two candidates, both strong civic-minded women, as harridans, typhoid carriers, or witches of old who lurk in the forest waiting to kidnap young children and cook them for dinner. Nonsense.

If you look at TV ads’ bottom line, you will see they are produced by special interest groups identified only by letters. Who are they? Who or what do they stand for? They offer no rational assessment of the candidates. Instead, they tear them down. Why? Because they have an agenda. They are trying to put in the fix. They are spending millions to promote a candidate they hope (or expect) will support their narrow legislative programs.

If you cruise the internet, both candidates are assaulted by worse posts. The political consultants, bloodsuckers all, tell us it is an effective ploy, especially at this time when we are all semi-isolated due to COVID-19.

Instead of interacting with our friends and neighbors at work, at church, or in other social gatherings to chew over this or that position or candidate, we stay home, becoming passive consumers for their well-funded political vitriol.

In the end, we don’t get straight answers. We see candidates dodge, dance and obfuscate as they attempt to avoid answering questions that might cast them in a bad light and cost them a few votes. But, you ask, what about reality? Shouldn’t the candidates just act like grown ups and shoot straight with the voters?

Years ago, I talked to an old lawyer/politician about justice and fair play. He said: “Kid, in my world, justice and fair play means I win.”

In today’s politics, winning is the only game in town. Anything else is just a game of bean bag. So we are stuck at home hiding from the specter of COVID-19, isolated from formal contact with our friends and family.

The moment we relax and turn on “Jeopardy,” we become spectators at a Roman circus watching in horror as two strong women are ripped to shreds. Their crime? They signed up to serve us all.

Welcome to the Brave New World. If this is the 2020s version of the new reality, I can’t wait for 2021.

Be well. Be safe.