The Issue 2 Gap Narrows

The Issue 2 ad barrage continues, and polling indicates the onslaught may be moving public opinion.  The question for Issue 2’s backers and opponents is:  how far, and how fast?

According to the latest Quinnepiac University poll, 51 percent of Ohioans say they would vote against Issue 2, and thereby repeal legislation that will affect collective bargaining and other work conditions for public employees.  That’s still a majority, but it reflects a significant shift in opinion since the prior Quinnepiac poll on that topic, which was taken in July.  In two months, the gap between those who favor repeal and those who oppose it has closed from 24 percent to 13 percent.

Although the news reports on the polling data are focusing on the erosion in the support for repeal, I’d say the odds still favor repeal.  Ads on Issue 2 have been running for weeks now and the people who were easily persuaded have already been persuaded.  In short, the low-hanging fruit has already been picked — and unlike a presidential election, there won’t be highly publicized debates or the possibility of gaffes that might have a discernible effect on voter preferences on Issue 2.  Unless there is some blockbuster ad campaign ready to be rolled out between now and the election, those who seek to uphold the public employee collective bargaining law probably will have to bank on voter turnout working in their favor.  Right now, the law seems likely to survive only if the fact of an off-year election, no statewide races, and a lingering recession operate to depress the turnout of Democratic voters.

 

Alpine Village Revisited

When Kish and I were in upstate New York in June, we decided to visit Alpine Village, the memorable Lake George resort where I worked during the summer of 1976.  I’m glad we visited, because it brought back some memories — but it made me sad at the same time.

I’m happy to report that Alpine Village is still there, ready to provide a great vacation to anyone who visits Lake George.  The resort is owned and operated by an energetic man who refurbished the main lobby pictured here, gave us a tour, and filled us in on fires, new buildings, and other developments in the 35 years since I’d last been there.

A lot has changed,and two changes in particular saddened me.  First, the long tables where guests used to sit for communal meals are gone.  Today’s guests simply will not sit with strangers; they insist on dining at their own tables — and, I think, living in their own, imperturbable worlds.  To me, the elimination of communal meals on the “American plan” eliminates some of the adventure in an Alpine Village vacation, and also reaffirms how Americans continue to withdraw from socializing with their fellow citizens.  This retreat is part of a fundamental change in a people who used to routinely join every imaginable social organization.  (Read de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America if you don’t believe me.)  I don’t think this is a good development.

Second, when I told the proprietor how much I loved working in the dishwashing room, he shook his head sadly and said that he couldn’t find any American kids who were willing to do that job anymore.  The only applicants were immigrants who wanted to wash dishes as a second job.  Have our kids really gotten to the point where they won’t take jobs that are hot and dirty, but yield a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work?  If so, I am sorry for them, for they are missing out on an experience that could help them grow and learn — and have some fun, besides.

The Post-AARP-Card-In-The-Mail Blues

The other day I received another AARP card in the mail.  Immediately my shoulders rounded a bit, I felt an irresistible impulse to hitch my trousers to nipple height, and I developed a keen interest in the weather.

I’ve gotten AARP stuff in the mail before.  On your 50th birthday, you inevitably get an AARP application as a special birthday treat.  At 50, you can laugh it off — but the AARP is persistent.  They keep sending you stuff, and sending you stuff, until they wear you down.  There is a certain grim inevitability to the process.  Once the AARP decides you should be a member, there’s nothing you can do about.  You are caught up, inexorably, in titanic forces beyond your control.

This latest card is heavy cardboard and has the whiff of permanence about it.  Its arrival moved me to verse:

My hair grows grayer

My face is lined

I’m looking older

But I don’t mind.

I ignore the years

Avoid my reflection

As my denial of age

Won’t bear close inspection.

But today my denial

Is impossibly hard

I’ve sadly received

An AARP card.