Well, all I can say is Good Grief, Thank the Lord and Hallelujah.
After today, maybe I can watch a YouTube video without seeing Charlie Baker and Karyn Polito at the beginning of it. Nothing against either. I’m sure they’re wonderful people. But I’m seeing way too much of them.
Ditto nurses and hospital executives. I love nurses. My sister’s one. And in my most recent extended stay in the luxurious confines of Salem Hospital, you couldn’t have found better nurses than the ones who took care of me.
But I’ve memorized these ads by now. Thanks to this political season, I know what “holding the wall” means (which is different than “hold that line!”). And of course, driving down Lynnfield Street the other day I saw a giant “Vote NO on Question 1” sign spread out above the Union Hospital entrance. Nice to know Partners cares so much. How does that jibe with its plans to, you know, close Union Hospital?
As anyone who’s paid an ounce of attention knows by now, this could end up being a watershed election in U.S. history. Either we show our approval — en masse — for Donald Trump, or we reject what we have seen over the past two years and indicate our preference that we take a different course.
This is the way it usually works in midterms. They are referenda on the job the administration has been doing, and it’s not uncommon to see either the House, or Senate, or even both flip. It happened during Bill Clinton’s first term, George W. Bush’s second, and Barack Obama’s first.
With Clinton, Newt Gingrich adopted his “Contract for America,” and the resulting revolt led the Republicans into control of Congress. Of course, all Gingrich did was bulldoze the government into a shutdown, and Clinton came out of it smelling like a rose — until, well, you know what.
So if the Democrats win either the House or the Senate, or both, it won’t be unprecedented. But it’ll be significant.
Of course, any gravitas associated with politics in the early 21st century is completely obliterated by all the ridiculousness that goes along with it — the wild, reckless claims, outright lies, distortions, bellicosity, coded racism, insinuation that one side or the other will kidnap your first born and sacrifice him or her to the wolverines. It makes even the ones who can stomach all the bloviating wonder why they do.
If anyone wants to know why more people don’t vote, I’m telling you it’s for the same reason that nobody watches baseball anymore. Both politics and the national pastime are unwatchable.
The Red Sox and Houston Astros played a nine-inning game in the ALCS that took almost five hours. There’s no excuse for that. The games start late, they end later, and any children (aka future fans) who might have been inclined to take an interest are quickly bored to distraction until they’re dead tired and can’t stay awake.
Similarly, why would anyone, except the most hopelessly addicted political junkie, care about half these races? Even the ones deemed important. The rancor is excruciating.
If Elizabeth Warren was not a U.S. Senator and didn’t have people running against her, we’d have never known, or cared, whether she put down “1/235th Barbadian” when asked. But now, I’ll bet there are some people in this country — the ones who don’t really pay attention — who wouldn’t recognize her name, but would know her by the blatantly racist and derisive nickname she’s been saddled with.
Thanks to these midterms, a caravan of stragglers trying to make their way through Mexico to the U.S. — for the most part on foot — has been turned into an invading horde of marauders the likes of which we haven’t seen since Attila the Hun and his army spread across Europe. It’s this type of hyperbole, and the incessant, pounding drumbeat of it, that turns people off to politics, and voting.
And there’s nothing anybody can do about it. The “mass” in “mass media” grows exponentially. It has tentacles that overlap into other areas. Once upon a time, you could smugly say “oh, that’s not us; that’s entertainment. We do news.” Or you could say “you can’t confuse us with the ‘National Enquirer,’ for heaven’s sake. That’s not a newspaper.”
That line that separates the legitimate from the fraudulent is getting dimmer by the day. At the same time, the number of people who don’t even bother making the distinction between a legitimate news outlet and “‘yourmothersbasement.com” grows.
All of this has conspired to take all the gravitas out of politics and turn it into just another sorry spectacle for people to blow off, as if their future doesn’t ride on elections.
They’re wrong, of course. But what’s it going to take for enough Americans to figure that out so the tide can turn back?