Until My Magnum Opus on Election, These Random Notes Will Have to Suffice

Friday, November 4, 2016

I’m an outlier.  Most voters are disgusted by now with the race for president and just want the whole thing over with.  I, on the other hand, remain wonderfully stimulated by the never-ending spectacle of presidential politics.  Or maybe I’ve been overstimulated to the point of derangement? 

Earlier this week, I attempted to write an essay summarizing my thoughts on the race.  Many have encouraged me to do so.  (Thanks, Mom.)  But, struggling diligently at the keyboard, all I was able to produce were these meager jottings:
-If lightning hits the outhouse on Tuesday and Trump emerges as our next President, I have a suggestion for our governor on how to get in the good graces of The Man: Hire one or more of his obnoxious sons as lobbyists for the Commonwealth in D.C.  When it comes to friendship, the Donald has always been a transactional kind of guy.

-Senator Elizabeth Warren, I predict, will remain perpetually unsatisfied with Charlie Baker for not denouncing enough “the cheddar-colored billionaire,” as the New York Times’s Maureen Dowd has dubbed the Donald.  As recently as Oct. 10, Warren was complaining that Baker’s early disavowal of Trump was “not enough” for a leader in the Republican Party.  That was many months after Baker had stuck his neck out by saying he’d never vote for Trump.  Two days after Trump dies, Warren will be blasting Baker for not having been quoted in the obituaries as wishing for Trump’s eternal damnation.
-Dr. Jill E. Stein of Lexington, the Green Party candidate for U.S. President and a former Town Meeting member in her hometown -- the highest elective office she has ever held -- enjoys the support of 4% of likely voters across the nation, according to an article in yesterday’s New York Times, (“Voters Express Disgust Over U.S. Politics in New Times/CBS Poll”).

-Imagine Dr. Stein was the Democrat nominee for president instead of Hillary Clinton. You would then be forced choose between two political neophytes for the most powerful office in the world.  Most Americans would check the box for a bullying businessman rather than a leftist healer with a heart of gold.  Few could be persuaded that an honor’s graduate of Harvard and Harvard Medical School and a longtime member of Physicians for Social Responsibility is a more worthy adversary of Vladimir Putin than a foul-mouthed, misogynistic real estate tycoon and TV celebrity.  And, I hate to say, they’d be right.

-You must recall this metric from the 2000 presidential campaign: Which candidate would you rather have a beer with?  The thinking was that, in the end, George W. Bush prevailed over Al Gore  because voters perceived him as the more regular, down-to-earth guy, a guy you'd like to have a beer with.  (No matter that Bush was a famous teetotaler by then.)  Given a choice among the four candidates this year -- Clinton, Trump, Stein and Gary Johnson, the Libertarian -- I would have to take Johnson, even though that would mean passing up the opportunity to be able to say forevermore, "I had a stein with Stein!"  Johnson's much less of an actor than the rest -- a looser, more irreverent human being.   

-Given the polls indicating voters in Massachusetts and elsewhere are likely to approve ballot questions legalizing recreational pot, in four years' time we could all be asking: Which candidate would you like to light up a joint with?  (It'll be no contest if Johnson's on the ballot again.)   

-I don't know much but I know this: the booming Massachusetts gun manufacturing sector, centered in the Pioneer Valley, fears a Trump victory.  If Trump wins, the phony fear that Hillary is going to maim the Second Amendment and take away folks' guns cannot be utilized to spur sales in anticipation of a putative gun-grab. 

-In 2010, I was having lunch with a businessman in Westfield, whose operation was adjacent to a huge gun factory.  "They're so busy they had to put on a second shift for the first time in years," he said.  "Why are they so busy?" I asked.  "Obama," he said.  "Everybody wants to get a gun before he makes its more difficult to own one."  If Obama did that, I totally missed it. 

-I imagine the National Rifle Association is also hoping in its heart of hearts for a Hillary win. She'd be good copy for the association's next fundraising and membership drives.
-News flash from the Kennedy School at Harvard: Losing is painful.  The school issued a press release today regarding a new study co-authored by associate professor Todd Rogers, which found that “winning elections only slightly improves the happiness of those affiliated with the winning party, while those on the losing side experience dramatic levels of sadness for as long as a week.”  Professor Rogers et al. learned that “eventually partisan losers recovered” from the blues.  Time heals all wounds.  Glad they cleared that up. 

-Where at the Kennedy School does one apply for a research grant?  I possess some unique insights into the effects of sunset on the utilization of artificial lighting sources at the Massachusetts State House, which I need to flesh out through extensive fieldwork.  With half a million a year from Harvard, I think I could make my case in about three years.  On the other hand, this could become a much longer academic exercise, depending on the availability of additional grant money.
-Princeton University Professor Cornel West, a philosopher, mentioned in an op-ed piece in today’s Boston Globe, (“Spiritual blackout in America: Election 2016”) that he prefers Dr. Stein over Hillary Clinton for president.  West was with Bernie Sanders in the primaries…I enjoyed West’s ruminations and recommend that you read them, if you haven’t already, by clicking on http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/11/03/spiritual-blackout-america-election/v7lWSybxux1OPoBg56dgsL/story.html

-My favorite lines from West’s piece: “The founder of Western philosophy, Plato, foresaw this (spiritual blackout) scenario.  In 'The Republic' – history’s most profound critique of democratic regimes – Plato argues that democracies produce citizens of unruly passion and pervasive ignorance, manipulated by greedy elites and mendacious politicians…For Plato, democratic regimes collapse owing to the slavish souls of citizens driven by hedonism and narcissism, mendacity and venality.”  I don’t think the professor will be adapting this for an address at the next U.S. Chamber of Commerce convention in D.C.

-Email is a perfect medium for spreading all kinds of jokes, and especially political jokes during an election season.  Have you heard the one about Hillary that goes like this:  Hillary Clinton goes to a gifted-student primary school in New York to talk about the world.  After her talk, she offers to answer questions from the kids.  One little boy puts up his hand.  Hillary asks him what his name is.  "Kenny," he says.  "And what is your question, Kenny?" she asks.  "I have three questions," he says.  "First, what happened in Benghazi?  Second, why would you run for president if you are not capable of handling two email accounts?  Third, what happened to the $6 billion that went missing while you were Secretary of State?"  Just then the bell rings for recess.  Hillary tells the students that they will continue after recess.  When they resume, Hillary says, "OK, where were we?  Oh, that's right: question time.  Who has a question?"  A different boy, little Johnny, puts his hand up.  Hillary points to him and asks what his name is.  "Johnny," he says.  "What is your question, Johnny?" she asks.  "I have five questions," he says.  "First, what happened in Benghazi?  Second, why would you run for president if you are not capable of handling two email accounts? Third, what happened to the $6 billion that went missing while you were Secretary of State.  Fourth, why did the recess bell go off 21 minutes early?  And, fifth, where's Kenny?"

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