Friday, March 28, 2008

The Dems Come to PA

(News-Herald, March 27) Tuesday’s paper noted that the number of registered Democrats in Venango County is close to surpassing the number of Republicans. I’ll have to check, but I’m pretty sure that’s one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

Of course, they aren’t real Democrats. I don’t begrudge them that—I’m not a real Democrat, either; I realized a while back that being a registered Independent shut me out of the primaries, and in Venangoland, the primary is often the only election that really matters.

These newly minted Dems are intent on enjoying the fun of a Democratic Presidential Primary in Pennsylvania that might actually matter. I’m not sure I share their excitement.

I am what’s called a super-voter; I have voted in every election I ever could, which means I’ll likely vote this time, which means time spent harassing me is better spent than chasing after somebody who’s only going to vote if he’s heading out to buy cigarettes that day and the polling place is on route.

So I anticipate plenty of phone calls, a nice assortment of annoying recorded baloney from the campaigns to mix on my answering machine with the notifications about my car’s warrantee and invitations to timeshare.

But I figured we would mostly be left alone. I figured the candidates would deduce that their time was better spent speaking a rallies of thousands of big-city voters than talking to the fourteen card-carrying Democrats in Venangoland (though I suppose they could cover it by taking us all out to one quick lunch). If we’ve rounded up enough Democrats (real, converted or faux) to attract attention, that would be too bad.

In a way, I can see why this race would be attractive to Republicans.

On the one hand, we have a candidate who feels entitled to office, will pull any political streetfighting tactic to win, and claims that anything thwarting the campaign is the result of a malignant conspiracy between Evil Forces and The Media. On the other hand, we have a candidate whose policies are easily criticized as vague or seriously wrong-headed, but whose rhetoric is inspiring and uplifting, reminding us of all the good things we want to be as Americans.

In other words, Clinton vs. Obama is actually Nixon vs. Reagan.

True, the “First Woman/Black President” marquee muddies the water. It would be nice if we could have the election without gender or race being an issue, but we’re not quite there yet.

It’s hard to tell where we are, precisely. I believe there are plenty of people dumb enough to vote against Clinton because she’s a woman or against Obama because he’s black. But it’s a much smaller number of people dumb enough to say so out loud. So that part of the campaign travels underground, expressed through code, indirection, and internet lies and distortions.

As we settle into our role as the New Iowa, we’ll get to see and hear it all. If nothing else, this election will provide a windfall for media ad sales departments, sign printers and whoever manufacturers those vile, repugnant auto-dialing recorded message deployers.

I do feel marginally better about this election cycle than the decade’s displays of mud-wrestling between two sacks of trained weasels. McCain is the closest thing to an actual Republican we’ve had on the GOP ticket in a while, and I appreciate Obama’s attempts to act like a real grown-up. At the risk of tipping my electoral hand, I will admit that Clinton II embodies pretty much everything I find loathsome about DC politicians (whatever his rather large failings as a man, I thought Clinton I was an okay President).

I feel sorry for local candidates, who will have to try to buy the few seconds of air time not already dominated by Presidential politics. I know there are about 147 guys running for John Peterson’s spot. Somebody has hit the ground running with plenty of tv ads, but all I’ve retained from them is that A) this guy is ticked off about illegal immigrants and oil-rich countries that hate us and B) to my middle-aged eyes, this guy looks to be about twelve years old. I do not remember his name nor the office for which he’s running, so if I’m supposed to be part of the target audience, his handlers may want to refine their message. They don’t have much time before Clinton/Obama have sucked up all the oxygen in the room.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep hoping that the candidates will swing through in person. Maybe they’ll take a ride on the OC & T, or catch a fish on Justus Lake. I would be happy to host a picnic for them and Venangoland’s lifetime Democrats in my back yard. Just call ahead so I have time to get a few extra groceries.

For anyone keeping score, this has seventy-some more words than the newspaper version; the thin-sizing of the paper caught me by surprise and I sent this off before discovering that I would have to adapt to a new, shorter reality. After ten years, I'll be interested to see if I can now write in shorter takes.

1 comment:

Mrs.C said...

Interesting and informative as always. As a fellow independent, but in the state of NC, which has gained considerable interest this election as has PA, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, which were remarkably similar to mine :-)

From my Flickr