Sunday, October 31, 2010

When Something Wicked This Way Comes

If ever there were a year to sell elections by the pound, this would be it, so far, as our Democracy continues to roll on. I've seen some rather frightening numbers thrown against the wall as the campaigns enter their last weekend, but all of them have one thing in common, mind-boggling huge dollar totals.

The big money seems to have been expended on the West Coast in California to include over one hundred and sixty million dollars by someone seeking to become the Governor. Ever since a Supreme Court decision equated free speech with campaign contributions (= you can't limit the latter without muzzling the former) some folks have been writing checks until writer's cramp sidelines them for the duration.

But here's the thing, said the guy from a tiny Northeast state where we have a moneybags campaign being mounted to be elected Senator by a woman who helped start the WWE (make your own joke here, I'm fresh out; and NO mothers, okay?), all across this country Tuesday we'll be voting for friends and neighbors trying to be elected to selectmen, burgesses, county commissioners, state senators, sheriffs, and a partridge in a pear tree (or not; that one may be an appointed position). Most of those running have full-time jobs (or did until the economy nailed them) and they do local government in their spare time.

You probably attended a forum in your local firehouse like the ones I've attended with those seeking your vote. At those events nobody called anybody else names, or accused them of being the Red Menace, the Black Death, the Yellow Peril or the White Christmas (I'm kinda tired and that's the best I can do). People do behave civilly, and there are NO TV cameras and no one getting her head stomped or any of the other rotor wash masquerading as campaign rhetoric. My brother, Adam, who was in DC this weekend with most of his family may feel differently about the Stewart/Colbert Rally (and I'll defer to him about it) but what I watched on line and read about it, was FINALLY someone is saying aloud what so many of us have been thinking.

For at least a score of years, American elections have just gotten stupider and stupider (sorry, Jill, but I love that word) and more strident with every ballot contested. Reasonable debates and measured discussions have been replaced by soundbytes that grow shorter by the news cycle until they seem little more than drive-bys. You could be elected a State's Attorney General with one thirty- second TV spot and this: "Fillet of a fenny snake, in the cauldron boil and bake. Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog. Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing--for a charm of powerful trouble, like a hell-broth boil and bubble. Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble!" (Sorry, Christine; btw, we are NOTHING like one another).

The day after tomorrow is Election Day and we get to take back our own lives and governments from the pollsters, the spin meisters, the handlers and the bloviating talking TV heads and chart our own course for our own destinies as we are finally able to return to our own lives. "'Cross this evil land, ill winds blow. Despite the darkness, mushrooms glow. All will rot and decompose, for something wicked this way grows." But only if we let it, so don't let it. Oh yeah, I approved this message.
-bill kenny

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